By Patrick Fitzgerald
City College’s Earth Day Fair held at Science Hall Plaza on April 20 featured a restorative theme, “Don’t Be a Bigfoot: Reduce Your Ecological Footprint,” to raise awareness of our individual responsibility for decreasing greenhouse gas emissions and resource depletion.
The event was celebrated with games, poetry readings, a marine-animal-touch pool and numerous hands-on demonstrations. In all, six City College education departments and 12 Bay Area environmental organizations participated in the event.
“Save water, compost and ride a bike to school,” Tiffany Cheng, a civil engineering student, said. “The Earth is a delicate planet.”
Footprints, Sustainability and Education
This year’s theme underscored the notion that our individual actions have ecological consequences—be it driving a car, turning on a light or throwing away a coffee cup and lid. Our simple, everyday choices to use fewer resources and recycle everything have an immense power to mitigate environmental degradation.
Sustainability, an eco-friendly watchword, was another aspect featured at the event. It relates to balancing our current resource consumption enough to avoid compromising future-generation’s ability to utilize and enjoy those same resources.
“The bigger footprint we have, and the more strain we put on the Earth as a whole, the more we are hurting our home,” Bradley Hook, a business administration student said.
City College boasts six associate degree programs and five certificates to prepare for green jobs and/or transfer to complete a bachelor’s degree. Classes range from environmental monitoring, solar panel installation, and running a green business to marine biology, environmental chemistry, and even sustainable fashion, to name just a few.
Many exhibits provided subject-specific information such as safe cleaning products, recycling, composting, identifying native plants species, community clean-up celebrations and much more. There was even information on free K-12 environmental education programs and smoking-related health materials.
The Environmental Protection Agency reports the first Earth Day celebration happened in the United States on April 22,1970, where an estimated 22 million, or nearly 11 percent, of all Americans participated. Earth Day Network reports that Earth Day was inspired by the 1960s anti-war protest movements and has since grown to become an observance celebrated by one billion people around the world.
At the movement’s inception, three pivotal events in the United States helped crystallize this outpouring for the Earth’s wellbeing. The first happened on December 24, 1968, when Apollo 8 took the first photograph of the Earth from space which had a profound effect on humanity’s perception of home.
Next, the Santa Barbara Oil Blowout in 1969 resulted in 200,000 gallons of oil being spilled during 11 days which caused extensive damage to the California coastline. Later that same year was the unforgettably surreal spectacle of Ohio’s Cuyahoga River bursting into flames that reached over five-stories high due to oil and chemicals floating on the river.
During the 1960s and 1970s, twelve major pieces of environmental legislation passed in Congress covering a host of air, water, wilderness and animal-diversity issues. This period of legislation culminated in 1980 with the Superfund Act that required industry to pay for cleaning up contaminated areas.
After the National Environmental Policy Act passed in 1970, President Richard Nixon proposed consolidating many agencies responsible for environmental protection into one that became the Environmental Protection Agency.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that March 2016 was the 11th straight month where the global temperature was 2.20 degrees Fahrenheit above the twentieth century average — the highest ever recorded since records started in 1880. NASA reports that 97 percent of actively-published scientist agree that human activity is the likely reason for the Earth’s warming.
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