1971: UN Secretary-General U Thant signs a proclamation. John McConnell was born in 1915 in Davis City, Iowa. His father was a traveling Pentecostal evangelist and John grew up with a strong commitment to making the world a better place. He spent his life on causes. He and Albert Nobell, a chemist who worked making plastics, noticed how damaging industry was to the ecological balance of Mother Nature. McConnell advocated for peace on Earth, even during the darkest days of World War II. When Sputnik was launched, he wrote an article for the peaceful exploration of space.
His environmental concerns grew throughout the late fifties and sixties. His Christian upbringing led him to believe humans had a duty to take care of Spaceship Earth for future generations. In October 1969, a National UNESCO Conference was held in San Francisco and John first proposed a global holiday to celebrate Earth, all her life and beauty, and to foster peace among all her inhabitants. Earth Day won strong support in San Francisco and the first celebration of the Day was held there on March 21, 1970. In June of that year, McConnell created the Earth Day Proclamation for worldwide use. It was signed by 36 world leaders. U Thant was one of the signatories.
U Thant was from Burma and was the Secretary-General of the UN from 1961 to 1971 after Dag Hammarskjold was killed in a plane crash. U Thant was the only candidate the US and the USSR could agree on and he took office amid the Cold War super powers animosity. He brokered many different agreements between categorically opposed factions during his terms in office. On this day, he was able to create a worldwide day for peace and understanding between humans of any place and their world. John McConnell’s idea had spread around the globe.
The spring equinox Earth Day is celebrated around the world and has been acknowledged at the United Nations with ringing of the UN Peace Bell. While some of the predictions from the early years have been averted, today we are still in a precarious position on the planet. There are issues of rising populations and destruction of the natural environment to support all the people. There are issues with extinctions of many species, but thankfully not nearly as bad as had been predicted. There was a prediction the world would suffer a new ice age. Instead, we have been dealing with issues of global warming and threat of rising waters drowning out much of the coastal regions of the world. Earth Day will be celebrated in 2017 on April 22.
When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. – John Muir
He that plants trees loves others beside himself. – Thomas Fuller
For 200 years we’ve been conquering nature. Now we’re beating it to death. – Tom McMillan
The earth is what we all have in common. – Wendell Berr