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Earth Day

by Ryan Loughrey

 

On April 22nd, 2014, students gathered at the Shasta College Quad, and indeed, on campuses around the world, to celebrate the 44th annual Earth Day and to reaffirm their pledge to honor and respect the world we live on.

 

The event kicked off with a small speech by Shasta College Instructor Randy Reed, who gave a brief history of the event as well as a forecast of the day’s events.

 

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Earth Day first hit the world’s spotlight in 1970, when Senator Gaylord Nelson and Congressman Pete McCloskey persuaded Dennis Hayes to channel the collective energy of students throughout the country in a massive day of education about the environment. The idea was that this would engage the public’s consciousness, and bring the idea of environmental concerns to the political table.

 

It worked. The first Earth Day had 20 million Americans involved in some way or another; students would attended rallies, performed inspiring music, protested the poor management of factories and garbage centers, and more.

 

This led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, passage of the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, and today is observed by 192 countries, according to the nonprofit Earth Day Network.

 

On Shasta College, a collection of booths by local organizations and clubs, all geared towards educating the populace on environmental issues. Many focused on water, specifically water stewardship and supply, which is an especially pressing issue this year with the drought affecting local residents.

 

The event started slowly, with the usual crowd of interested parties, students forced to attend, and curious members of the student body who wandered out of the cafeteria and noticed that something was amiss. Soon, however, the event drew in more and more concerned students, eager and concerned about getting involved to help do their part.

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Poems were read early in the day, and folk-type songs were sung later in the day, at one point audience members were even invited to participate in the music.

 

The booths varied, such as one hosted by the Environmental Horticulture Club that gave tips on how to make sure that you are not watering your lawn too much or too little. Another was hosted by the Ag Leadership Club, and told patrons how much of their program was sustainable, such as using leftover oil from the cafeteria as an additive to chicken feed. They also had a live goat present, a hit among the many children in attendance.

 

These events are important reality checks. The first song played at the event was “Bad Moon Rising,” by Creedence Clearwater Revival. Although it sounds upbeat, indeed it has a catchy tune and great guitar riffs, but also eerily haunting lyrics. It forebodes of a dangerous future, rife with natural disasters and warnings. I don’t think it was a coincidence this song was played at this event.
The time for inaction is no more, the time for action is upon us. The underlying message that was subtly and gently massaged into people is that we must be responsible for the caretaking of the earth, and this is absolutely true. As the clichéd yet still poignant statement goes, “We are not apart from nature, but rather, a part of nature.”

 

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