AC Alert for April 16, 2012 Earth Day in the Army

Apr 17, 2012 3:15 PM ET AC Alert for April 16, 2012 Earth Day in the Army

"Earth Day" has always generated its share of controversy. Over the 40 years since the first Earth Day celebration, despite the overwhelming public support for the event, some well-known newspaper commentators and talk show hosts have been very critical of the Earth Day movement, even labeling it a farce or hoax. 

Back in 2009, the conservative-leaning Washington Times contrasted Arbor Day with Earth Day, claiming that Arbor Day was a happy, non-political celebration of trees, while Earth Day was a pessimistic, political ideology that portrayed humans in a negative light.

Even writer Alex Steffen, proponent of bright green ideas, believes that the celebration itself has outlived its usefulness.

Despite this type of criticism, the observances of Earth Day continue to grow, from coast-to-coast -- and around the world. Our editors were overwhelmed as we reviewed the number of activities planned for this year’s observance. One item that stood out to us was the observance planned for Earth Day in the United States Army:

“The U.S. Army celebrates Earth Day at approximately 200 installations, major commands and organizations in the United States and around the world. The Army's 2012 Earth Day theme, "Sustaining the Environment, for a Secure Future," reflects the Army's commitment to meet the current and future needs of Soldiers, their families, and the nation through the sound stewardship of environmental resources.

"The Army is vigilant in protecting over 200 endangered or threatened species that make their homes on military installations worldwide. In addition, we are focusing on managing America's natural resources with a goal of "Net Zero" installations.

"Using Earth Day as a tool, the Army is creating a culture that recognizes the value of sustainability measured not just in terms of financial benefits, but benefits to maintaining mission capability, quality of life, relationships with local communities, and the preservation of options for the Army's future. Events for this year vary from Earth Day fairs with educational exhibits, to tree plantings, to other initiatives that actually sustain installation operations.” (Source: US Army official home page)

(Note that the US Army published a comprehensive sustainability report this year that follows the GRI framework. Information can be found at on G&A Institute's GRI USA Data Partner Report Database & Repository)

It may be hard to believe, but the Earth Day observance turned 42 this year! The first Earth Day -- held April 22, 1970 -- was a modest event and attempted to instill a consensus among citizens that we needed to place environmental concerns front and center.

U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, who is largely credited with starting Earth Day, believed that by focusing more public attention on the problems being caused by air and water pollution, it would force environmental protection onto the national political agenda. He forged a bipartisan group of officials to plan the day and enlist public support.

Earth Day 1970 achieved a rare thing in politics: support from Republicans and Democrats, as well as the rich, poor and middle class. (We seemed to all more closely unite in common causes in those bygone days!) The first Earth Day also led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts. Earth Day observances became an annual springtime event, which continues to this day.

AC’s pages are filled this week with news, commentary and research about Earth Day and the many issues connected with this worldwide movement. Look for the Earth Day Logo that highlights each of the Earth Day stories in the Environment news section.    Here are a few examples:

Earth Day 2012 - Mobilize the Earth
(Source: Earth On April 22, more than one billion people around the globe will participate in Earth Day 2012 and help "Mobilize the Earth" People of all nationalities and backgrounds will voice their appreciation for the planet and demand its protection. This article explains how local community groups and organizations can participate in Earth Day activities.

A Billion Acts of Green
The Earth Day Network is hosting "A Billion Acts of Green" in 2012. The goal is to register one billion environmentally friendly actions in advance of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development happening in Rio de Janeiro in June, 2012.

NASA Celebrates Earth Day 2012 in the Washington Area
(Source: NASA) NASA is taking part in the celebration of Earth Day's 42nd anniversary on the National Mall in Washington from April 20 through April 22. The agency's involvement includes three consecutive days of activities and exhibits open to the public. Additional activities are scheduled at nearby NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Earth Day Parks Clean-up April 14
(Source: The California State Parks Foundation will embark on 19 environmental improvement projects at parks statewide in April as part of its 15th Annual Earth Day Restoration and Cleanup presented by Pacific Gas and Electric Company. This year the parks foundation is providing grants up to US$15,000 (a combination of cash grants and in-kind donations) to parks, allowing for the completion of larger projects that would otherwise be on maintenance backlog.

Earth Day: From Grassroots Campaign to Global Phenomenon
(Source: Earth Day began as a small movement that grew into a worldwide campaign for a greener, cleaner environment for all living organisms. This article outlines how the day has expanded over the years.

Our Bay: Earth Day events abound
(Source: Hometown Annapolis) For more than 40 years, residents of all ages have been celebrating Earth Day designed to make people aware of the effects they have on the world around them. The day is usually marked with cleanups, tree plantings and educational events. Anne Arundel County in Maryland is no different this year, with several Earth Day events scheduled in the coming weeks.

Earth Day promotes protecting environment
(Source: Lancaster Gazette) Environmental education related to Earth Day has done much to instill balanced, sound and responsible environmental decision-making. Residents of the Lancaster, Ohio region will celebrate Earth Day April 21 at Alley Park. Activities include eco-crafts, fishing, displays, tree seedling give-away and door prize drawings starting at 8 a.m. and ending by 11:30 a.m.

This is just a sampling of the information in our Alert. Go here for the full text of this alert, and more information on Sustainability, and other Accountability related topics.