Little Bits of History

February 26

Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 26, 2017

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

Earth Day

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 22, 2013
Earth Day  1970

Earth Day 1970

April 22, 1970: Earth Day is first celebrated. There are two spring dates set aside to honor our planet. The UN sponsors a date at the vernal equinox, a tradition founded by John McConnell. A second date, founded by US Senator Gaylord Nelson, is celebrated worldwide on April 22. Each year, people from around the world stop and look around, noticing the fragile system we call home. They give voice to environmental issues with outreach programs to include schools, churches, and all concerned inhabitants of Mother Earth.

Nelson was an environmentalist with a passion for preservation. He was responsible for keeping many open spaces throughout the US and after 18 years in the Senate, he became counselor of The Wilderness Society where he continued to embrace environmental issues. He was concerned with sustainable populations, clean air, and conservation techniques. He was Chairman for Earth Day XXV in 1995. His last Earth Day was celebrated with his grandson, planting a tree. He died in 2005 at the age of 89.

John McConnell began a push for a day to support stewardship of Earth in the late 1960s. He wrote a Declaration of Planetary Rights “concerning the rights of all people to Earth’s land, sea, minerals, oil and other natural resources.” While the opening line suggests the Earth is for humans, the text repeatedly implores us to remain conscious of conservation of precious resources. He wrote an Earth Day Proclamation for the United Nations in 1973 and it was signed by 36 dignitaries. McConnell also wrote the 77 Theses On the Care of the Earth. He addressed this work to those “who seek to do the things about ecology, economics and ethics that foster peaceful progress on our planet.”

The theme for Earth Day 2008 was “A Call for Climate.” In 2009, we celebrated “The Green Generation” and this year, the day coincides with the World People’s Conference on Climate Change. It is the International Year of Biodiversity. Nothing is without criticism. Earth Day, claimed Alex Steffen (advocate for bright green environmentalism) has come to symbolize the pessimistic, political thinking and portrays humans in a negative light. Arbor Day which was begun in the United States in 1872, he said, was a celebration of trees – something lost to the newer movement.

“There is a sufficiency in the world for man’s need but not for man’s greed.” – Mohandas K. Gandhi

“I’m not an environmentalist. I’m an Earth warrior.” – Darryl Cherney

“I think the environment should be put in the category of our national security. Defense of our resources is just as important as defense abroad. Otherwise what is there to defend?” – Robert Redford

“I am the earth. You are the earth. The Earth is dying. You and I are murderers.” – Ymber Delecto

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: Gaylord Nelson chose the date for his celebration of Mother Earth deliberately. He felt that college students were our greatest hope for a better future and he wanted to include as many of them as possible in the plan. The dates he selected were between April 19 and 25 because students were done with Spring Break and not yet into finals or graduation worries. The theme for Earth Day 2013 is The Face of Climate Change. Their mission statement is “Climate change can seem like a remote problem for our leaders, but the fact is that it’s already impacting real people, animals, and beloved places. These Faces of Climate Change are multiplying every day. Fortunately, other Faces of Climate Change are multiplying too: those stepping up to do something about it. Together, we’ll personalize the massive challenge climate change presents by telling the world these stories through images shown at thousands of Earth Day events around the world.”

Also on this day: One Ringy-Dingy – In 2000 the UK updates the phone system.
Oklahoma Land Run – In 1889, land in Oklahoma was parceled out in a land run.
Remember the Alamo – In 1836, Santa Anna was captured.