Today, 22 April, is Earth Day. First held in the US on April 22, 1970, it was opened up to the rest of the world in 1990 and now includes a wide range of events coordinated globally by EarthDay.org (formerly Earth Day Network) including 1 billion people in more than 193 countries. On Earth Day 2016, the landmark Paris Agreement was signed by the United States, the United Kingdom, China, and 120 other countries. This signing satisfied a key requirement for the entry into force of the draft climate protection treaty adopted by consensus of the 195 nations present at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris. Many communities engaged in Earth Day actions: an entire week of activities was focused on the environmental issues that the world faces. On Earth Day 2020, over 100 million people around the world observed the 50th anniversary in what has been referred to as the largest online mass mobilisation in history.
52 years on, the message is more vital than ever. The official website leads with this statement:
“This is the moment to change it all — the business climate, the political climate, and how we take action on climate. Now is the time for the unstoppable courage to preserve and protect our health, our families, our livelihoods… together, we must Invest In Our Planet.
Because a green future is a prosperous future.
We need to act (boldly), innovate (broadly), and implement (equitably). It’s going to take all of us. All in. Businesses, governments, and citizens — everyone accounted for, and everyone accountable. A partnership for the planet.
And while there is still time to solve the climate crisis, time to choose BOTH a prosperous and sustainable future, and time to restore nature and build a healthy planet for our children and their children, time is short.
For Earth Day 2022, together, for everyone, everything, every day…
As you may have noticed, I post a fair bit of music here and was rather taken by the official song for today, which is shown on the website. Although it is sung in Ukrainian its powerful message comes through loud and clear:
There is an English translation of the lyrics on YouTube. They are:
My child’s an open book, we sang “All creatures great & small”
This means as we see the light, for me to stand, you won’t fall
I’ve been weak, now I feel strong I know what it is like not to belong
Through many dangers, toils n’ snares, I have grown
Grace brought me thus far, love will lead me home
To judge a man, look at his creed
How does he treat those he does not need?
I’ll respect you, as you will me
We’ll fight but still be friends; that’s our victory
Through many dangers, toils n’ snares, we have grown
If Grace made us all, love – In this Earth we share, love –
Love must lead us home.
You don’t really need to understand the lyrics to get the feel of that, do you? The grace that has got us this far and love for our planet are so important for its survival. There is much more about this on the website, explaining the importance of this issue and why we should all take an interest and do what we can, whether that be as individuals, as part of businesses, or as governments. It is vital for the future of the planet that we do, or else what are we going to be leaving for our children and grandchildren?
Last November I posted Tuesday Tunes 81: Environment, the theme of which was songs of protest against the way we are treating our planet. I won’t repeat the whole piece here, but you can follow that link if you’d like to see which songs I chose. Several of them were of similar vintage to the beginnings of Earth Day, and whilst some progress has been made in the fifty years since then there is still so much more we can and need to do. It was no coincidence to me that I shared those songs three weeks before my second granddaughter was born: whilst I’m 68 and have to accept that my days on the planet are more behind me than ahead of me, what kind of future will she have? What will the world be like by the time she reaches my age – in 2090 – if it still exists?
My small contribution to today is to share again the two songs which bookended that piece, as a reminder to us all. The first is from a Cat Stevens album released in 1970, Tea For The Tillerman, which was reworked in 2020 to mark its fiftieth anniversary:
This is some of what I said when I played it before: “The song’s message is even more powerful now than it was fifty years ago, and the video is terrific. This is one that has never been released as a single, so may not be familiar to you, but I think it deserves to be heard. I saw him play live in 2009, as part of a series of concerts to mark the 50th anniversary of Island Records. He began with a track from his newly released album, and then played this: you could have heard a pin drop, apart from the audience singing quietly along with him. We were all word perfect, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house!” I share his concerns for my granddaughters’ future.
And this is the one with which I closed that selection:
Again, this is part of what I said then: “This was the closing track on Queen’s album, The Works. I can still recall the first time I played the album, sitting in stunned silence after it finished until the click of the needle going round and round on the vinyl jolted me back to reality. How much power is there in that two minutes of music? I think we should all play that song on a regular basis, in case we are ever in danger of forgetting its message.” It still has that same effect on me now: the power and beauty of its simplicity really enhance its meaning, to my mind.
I mentioned in that previous post another song which I had thought to include, but shied away from due to the extreme difficulty of getting a version which the record company will allow us to hear. But, on reflection, I’m playing it today in the hope that it will be available to you, wherever you are. It describes how our predecessors have invested in the planet, but not necessarily in ways which would protect and prolong its life, and it is another of those songs which is still just as relevant as a reminder today as it was in 1976 when it was first released:
That video has been on YouTube for nine years so I hope you can see it. If not, maybe this official audio-only version will play for you. That song is, of course, written from an American perspective of history, but those of us in other countries have done our bit to destroy what nature has given us, though we may not have driven out the native population in doing so. This was the closing track on what I still think is The Eagles’ masterpiece album, Hotel California. And the phrase ‘Last Resort’ is a pretty good summation of our chances at solving the climate change issues that the world faces, I think.
You may well see something about Earth Day in the news today. Please don’t let it pass you by. All of the recent news about fossil fuels and our dependence on them, in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, should be reminding of this every day. This isn’t just an issue for the ‘woke,’ cranks and weirdos – it affects us all and will define what kind of planet we bequeath to our dependants, or even if we do leave something sustainable for them. We don’t want this to be our legacy, do we: