Earth Day 2012 Marked by Calls for Political Action

WASHINGTON, DC, April 22, 2012 (ENS) – On this, the 42nd annual celebration of Earth Day, the Earth Day Network is urging Americans to contact the White House and Congress asking them to “fully fund environmental education at the federal level.”

To mark Earth Day, President Barack Obama issued a proclamation focused on his Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools recognition award “to encourage more schools to pursue sustainability, foster health and wellness, and integrate environmental literacy into the curriculum,” launched last year.

“In the days ahead, we look forward to awarding the first Green Ribbons and recognizing the accomplishments of green schools across our country,” Obama said in the proclamation.

The Earth Day Network, which helped to create the Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools program, today pointed out that the Obama Administration’s fiscal year 2013 budget “is at odds with its commitment to green schools and environmental education.”

President Obama’s 2013 budget proposal to Congress recommends eliminating nearly $40 million for environmental education programs at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and at the National Science Foundation.

“These proposed cuts – the equivalent to one-fourth of the cost of one F-22 fighter jet – would cripple local and national environmental education programs across the country,” said the Earth Day Network today.

The Earth Day Network praised the administration for announcing a new federal task force on environmental education April 16 at the first White House Summit on Environmental Education, but warned that “these cuts have the potential to seriously hinder support for environmental education and green schools nationwide.”

Across the United States today there are events of every kind: rallies, concerts, cleanups, picnics, hikes and the world’s largest…

On the National Mall in Washington, the Earth Day Network is hosting free music, entertainment, celebrity speakers and an Eco-Village despite the rain.

The Explorers Club entertains the crowd on the National Mall, April 22, 2012 (Photo courtesy Earth Day Pictures)

On stage, Cheap Trick, Dave Mason, Kicking Daisies and The Explorers Club will entertain the hundreds of thousands of people on the Mall. Grammy winning jazz artist Esperanza Spalding will present the world premiere of the music video for her song “Endangered Species” at the event.

Chart-topping R&B singer Ledisi joins the event as a special guest performer. “I’m happy to do my part in helping educate and promote green initiatives to make the world a better, healthier place,” Ledisi said.

Saxophonist Ron Holloway will perform with the Chad Hollister Band; the band The Press and teen singer-songwriter Kate Diaz will also take the stage.

Gene Karpinski, head of the League of Conservation Voters called on the crowd to support President Obama. Earlier this week the League of Conservation Voters endorsed President Obama for re-election in a joint announcement with the Sierra Club, Clean Water Action, and Environment America.

“Elections are about choices – and for those who care about building a clean energy economy and confronting the climate crisis, the choice is clear: President Obama is a clean energy champion and Mitt Romney is a climate denier,” said Karpinski. “While President Obama has fought to put Americans in control of our energy future, Mitt Romney and his Big Oil buddies would take us back to the failed dirty energy policies of the past.”

To encourage people to enjoy the outdoors, The Nature Conservancy is attempting to set a world record for the number of picnics held in a 24 hour period.

The Center for Biological Diversity is marking Earth Day by giving away 100,000 free Endangered Species Condoms around the country. The condoms arrived this week in the mailboxes of 1,200 volunteer distributors who will hand them out at hundreds of Earth Day events and more than 80 college campuses.

“What better day than Earth Day to get people talking about overpopulation and its environmental impacts?” said Amy Harwood, coordinator of the Center’s human population campaign. “The world population has doubled since the first Earth Day 42 years ago, and yet today that rarely gets talked about. But the fact is that we add 80 million people to the planet each year, leading to pollution, habitat destruction, and the prospect of extinction for thousands of species already living on the brink.”

To demonstrate city-wide support for making Austin, Texas the Clean Energy Capital of the World, this Earth Day, hundreds of Austinites will take part in the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign’s largest-ever aerial photo. Mayor Lee Leffingwell and City Council members unanimously pledged to move the City of Austin off the Fayette coal plant and the event will showcase support for the initiative.

National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis this week released the Green Parks Plan to focus the bureau on sustainable management of national parks and key environmental issues ranging from reducing energy and water consumption to limiting waste to lowering emissions of greenhouse gases.

“The Green Parks Plan is a comprehensive approach to sustainability that will reduce the National Park Service’s carbon footprint through actions taken in every park and office,” Jarvis said during a news conference at the Lincoln Memorial. “It addresses how we will reduce our energy and water consumption, limit the waste we generate, mitigate the effects of climate change, change what we buy and how we manage facilities and integrate sustainable practices into every aspect of our operations.”

Americans as a whole favor a wide-ranging set of proposals for dealing with the nation’s energy and environment situations, but support varies markedly across party lines, reports the most recent Gallup Poll on the environment. Results released April 9 show Republicans are more likely than Democrats to favor opening up federal lands for drilling, and expanding the use of nuclear energy. Democrats are more likely to favor each of six different proposals, including emissions-control measures, spending government money on alternative sources of energy, and increasing enforcement of environmental regulations.

SodaHead.com, which bills itself as the web’s largest opinion-based community, polled its users to find out sentiments on topics surrounding the environment, recycling, organic products and hybrid cars. Overall, 85 percent of respondents said being “eco-friendly” is very important or moderately important. However, only 14 percent think the planet is improving, as 86 percent feel the planet has gotten worse or stayed the same.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2012. All rights reserved.