UWT celebrates the 45th anniversary of Earth Day with an Earth Day Rally hosted by UWT On The Go on April 22nd at 12:30 p.m. along the UWT station Prairie Line Trail.
The main goal of the UWT Earth Day Rally is to raise awareness. The Facebook page and flier tell students to, “Be a Planeteer and help your community win the battle against climate change.” The reference to the 90’s TV show, Captain Planet and The Planeteers, is not lost on this reporter.
The rally will provide UWT students, staff, and faculty with a variety of entertainment options, with speakers such as former Deputy Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Ron Sims. ASUWT senator and member of the UWT On The GO: UW Tacoma Task Force, Seth Lundegaard, refers to Sims as, “[a] champion for alternative transportation.” There will also be live music by Pacific Northwest native and saxophonist Kareem Kandi. There is even an adult tricycle race scheduled at 12:45 p.m.
The first Earth Day was held on April 22, 1970, founded by United States Senator Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach-in day. The outpouring of support helped to put environmental issues into the political mainstream leading to the establishment of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, and the EPA’s subsequent passing of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts. Environmental activist, Dennis Hayes was the first coordinator of Earth Day. Hayes went on to found the Earth Day Network, or EDN, which in 1990 expanded Earth Day worldwide and organized events in 141 nations. According to EDN, they currently work with 50,000 partners and 192 countries to maintain the environmental movement, saying, “More than 1 billion people now participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world.”
As we approach the 45th anniversary of Earth Day, the environmental issues we face are different than they were in 1970. Senator Lundegaard said, “We fight a different and much more complex beast, non-point source pollution.” Non-point source pollution, or NPS, refers to air and water pollution attributed to diffuse sources. Lundegaard says, “Transportation, industry, energy, and buildings are all releasing greenhouse gas emissions at unprecedented levels, contributing to the global crisis of climate change. Unfortunately, what makes these sector activities so much harder to regulate is the fact that they cannot be easily traced.” This worldwide crisis is prompts action as is seen with the continued support of Earth Day. According to the EPA, “We all play a part. Non point source pollution results from a wide variety of human activities on the land. Each of us can contribute to the problem without even realizing it.”
Realizing the impact of human actions on the Earth is the first step. Lundegaard said, “Earth Day is one day out of the year where we’re supposed to think about the importance of our natural environment.” UWT students, faculty, and staff will have the opportunity to thank about their environment this month. Lundegaard said, “We’re holding an Earth Day event…because we believe UW Tacoma students have a responsibility to at least think about the consequences of their actions.”