Earth Day 2023

I have written about this before, and am adapting a previous post as the basis for this one. No apologies for that: the message is still just as necessary and vital. Tomorrow, 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 (formerly Earth Day Network) involving 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. In recognition of this 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.

53 years on, the message is more vital than ever. The official website leads with this statement:

“This year, we rally behind the theme Invest In Our Planet, which highlights the importance of dedicating our time, resources, and energy to solving climate change and other environmental issues. Investing in our planet is necessary to protect it and the best way to pave a path towards a prosperous future.

When we Invest In Our Planet together, we are supporting healthy, happy, and wealthy communities worldwide.” have produced a brief video to announce the day, which I’m sharing with you:

When I went to YouTube to get that video I found a good many more that had been made by other organisations to support Earth Day. This one from NASA, published in 2021, struck a chord with me:

I think that tagline of Our Planet, Our Home should be engraved on all of our minds. Some appear to have forgotten the message or have never taken it to heart – unfortunately, many of those in a position to do something about the challenges the world faces fall into that category.

A while back 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 or so 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 69 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 three of the songs from that piece, as a reminder to us all. They are all from my usual suspects! 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:

I think that video is absolutely brilliant. 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. 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.

This next one is still one of my all-time favourite songs, almost fifty years since it was first released:

There are many live versions of this song I could have played – a couple of very good ones with Joan Baez in particular – but I chose to go again with the one I played before. Not only does this date from three days before I saw Jackson Browne in concert (though he didn’t play this!) but it was a show he shared with his long-time friend and collaborator, David Lindley (he’s the one on the pedal steel guitar). David died on 3 March, and the outpouring of heartfelt tributes to him has shown how much he was loved and respected. This is by way of my own tribute to his memory, and to how much I enjoyed his part in that concert back in 2010.

Finally – well, almost – this is the one with which I closed that selection:

And 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 ten years so I hope you can see it. If not, maybe this official audio-only version will play for you. The 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 and tomorrow. Please don’t let it pass you by. All the news we see about fossil fuels and our dependence on them, heightened by the continuing effects of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year, should be reminding us 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: