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Celebrate Earth Day 2012

More than 40 years later and Earth Day still has a powerful message to offer people of all ages.

This weekend will mark the 42nd annual celebration of Earth Day.  

First observed on April 22, 1970, Earth Day was founded by United States Sen. Gaylord Nelson. Earth Day is said to be the beginning of the modern environmental movement. It is celebrated around the world in 175 countries each year on April 22. 

Some cities engage in celebrations up to a week in advance, ending with the recognition of Earth Day. It has been estimated that 20 million people participated in the first Earth Day celebration, and that an estimated 500 million will celebrate the approaching Earth Day festivities. 

Today, Earth Day is a massive global effort coordinated by the Earth Day Network to create and engage in activities to help us to better understand and respect our Earth’s natural environment. 

Back when it was first celebrated, the day’s most topical environmental issues were at the forefront of the event. Students protesting everything from nuclear power to air pollution to deforestation latched on to the Earth Day movement and message. As our key environmental issues continue to change and evolve, so does Earth Day. 

This year may mark the biggest international effort to mobilize people into environmental action that we have ever seen. Everything from trying to save the Yasuni National Park Biosphere Reserve to implementing the curriculum of the Green Schools Leadership Center, which seeks to make schools around the world more healthy, sustainable and energy efficient. This Earth Day the message is simple—think globally, act locally. 

So, how can you participate locally? You can start by finding one of several Earth Day activities going on in our area. Check out the Billion Acts of Green site put out by the Earth Day Network. It lists thousands of local and national Earth Day activities for your pleasure. Everything from park and community clean-up days to full-scale festivals with eco-friendly fare and a variety of green demonstrations can be found on this site. And look for Camden County College (CCC) to host its annual Earth Day Celebration at the school's Blackwood campus.

You don’t have to be an environmental activist to enjoy engaging in some Earth Day festivities. It is a great time to simply get out and enjoy nature. It’s a great time to create a dialogue with your children and grandchildren about the simple aspects of caring for the Earth— the things that almost everyone can agree on, such as not littering, recycling, and respecting nature.

Simply put, Earth Day reminds us we all share the same planet. It serves as a much-needed reminder that we should all be taking responsibility for what we use and how we use it. It is a day to think of the environmental challenges we face and how to solve them. It reminds us that protecting Earth is every person’s and every country’s responsibility.

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