United States Senator Gaylord Nelson from Wisconsin created the first Earth Day held April 22nd, 1970 after seeing the results of the three-million-gallon oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara California. The spill created an 800 square mile oil slick visible from Nelsons plane as he flew overhead. The spill also resulted in the death of 10,000 marine animals and birds. That first Earth Day is believed to have had over 20,000 Americans participating in Earth Day events.
Today it is recognized in 192 countries. Earth Day Network is the official organizer and education resource for each years theme and events. The 2019 “Protect our Species” theme was chosen due to recent distressing rates of species endangerment and extinction. Earth Day Network shares the following:
“We are amidst the largest period of species extinction in the last 60 million years. Normally, between one and five species will go extinct annually. However, scientist estimate that we are now losing species at 1,000 to 10,000 times the normal rate, with multiple extinctions daily. Multiple species will disappear before we learn about them or the benefits they bring to our planet”
Species of concern include primates, birds, big cats, marine animals, lizards and insects. On the surface the mass die off of insect species may not appear to be of great consequence, however those little bugs play an intricate and necessary role in all of our existence. Plants that provide us food rely on insects for pollination. Fish, birds, reptiles and small mammals rely on insects as their own food source. If one insect species goes an entire chain of other living creatures goes with it. A recent story from The Guardian titled “Plummeting Insect Numbers Threaten Collapse of Nature”, reports 40% of insect species are declining with 1/3 considered endangered. Both Puerto Rico and Germany are already seeing the collapse of insect species. To learn more and find ways you can help and or celebrate this upcoming Earth Day go to: www.earthday.org