Camas - Washougal

No more gas masks on Earth Day, just a message

No more gas masks on Earth Day, just a message
Photo courtesy ex_magician on Flickr (Creative Commons).

PORTLAND, Ore. - Monday is a work day for a lot of folks but it's also a day to appreciate the natural environment we live in and take some time to think about what we, as humans, can do to preserve it for future generations.

We're talking about Earth Day, which falls on April 22.

And this year's theme has a much bigger message attached to it - the folks at Earth Day Network hope the world will take note of climate change as well.

"Many people think climate change is a remote problem, but the fact is that it's already impacting real people, animals and beloved places all over the world," said Kathleen Rogers, president of Earth Day Network.

To help spread that message, the Earth Day Network has been working on a photo-mosaic project where they invited people to upload photos from around the world to illustrate this year's Earth Day theme - 'The Face of Climate Change.'

Did You Know?

The original Earth Day was the brainchild of the late Sen. Gaylord Nelson, D-Wis., who called for a nationwide teach-in on the environment in a speech in Seattle in September 1969. His daughter, Tia Nelson, said he decided to launch it after a major oil spill in California, and wrote the speech on airplane napkins.

 In this April, 22, 1970 file photo, a Pace College student in a gas mask "smells" a magnolia blossom in City Hall Park on Earth Day, April 22, 1970, in New York.

The first Earth Day took place on April 22, 1970 and at that time there was no 'green' movement and little talk of global warming.

Instead, the original Earth Day 43 years ago emphasized 'ecology' and goals like cleaning up pollution and litter - along with a more anti-establishment vibe than today.

"Welcome, sulfur dioxide, hello, carbon monoxide," a woman sang from the 1968 countercultural Broadway hit, 'Hair,' at a rally in Philadelphia that day.

Across the country, activists donned gas masks or spread out in grassy parks to hear speeches about overpopulation, smog and dirty rivers.

On the first Earth Day in 1970, the youth-driven movement sparked participation from around 2,000 college campuses and 10,000 elementary and high schools. Congress even adjourned so members could give speeches and tens of thousands of people filled Fifth Avenue in New York City, which was closed to traffic. And millions across the country took part in activities like trash removal and bicycle rides.