April 22nd: Earth Day or Lenin’s Birthday?

Originally scheduled on the vernal equinox, March 21, 1970, the date of the first Earth Day was changed to April 22, Vladimir Lenin’s birthday, the day the communist world engages in house cleaning, gardening, and various environmental projects.

Anti-communists argue that the date selection was intentional and was changed, reflecting the growing communist movement in the country at that time stemming from the war in Vietnam. The War chasm widened between Hawks and Doves and Earth Day became the line of demarcation, leaning toward communist sympathizers.

“I believe the young anti-capitalist students knew precisely what they were doing in selecting April 22,” wrote Robert J. Smith, former director of the Center for Private Conservation, on the blog of libertarian think tank Competitive Enterprise Institute in 2015. “Was it sheer coincidence they would select Lenin’s 100th birthday — out of 365 days in the year — to celebrate the first Earth Day? I find it hard to believe.”

Rather than the land, Earth Day is rooted in politics. Biologist Rachel Carson’s 1962 Silent Spring prompted Senator Gaylord Nelson (D-WI) to take a serious look at environmental issues.

In the post-beatnik/pre-hippie era, the Vietnam War continued to claim the lives of American soldiers and love-ins and sit-ins became standard protest activities. In 1963, Sen. Nelson invited President John F. Kennedy to speak at a teach-in to discuss environmental issues; thus, Earth Day was born.

The Forerunner to the banning of DDT and other pesticides and the initialization of the Environmental Protection Agency by President Richard Nixon in 1972, Earth Day progressed to themes for the health and care of the planet. This year’s theme is Climate Change, a political movement that is not grounded in science and is a far cry from what Earth Day was founded to accomplish.

“Progress has slowed, climate change impacts grow, and our adversaries have become better financed,” said Earth Day Network president Kathleen Rogers. “We find ourselves today in a world facing global threats that demand a unified global response. For Earth Day 2020, we will build a new generation of environmentalist activists, engaging millions of people worldwide.”

Yesterday marked the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day which was conducted on April 22, 1970. Lockdowns and shelter-in-place orders have limited the participation of this year’s events.

The semi-centennial featured events that are designed to bring pressure on the nations of the world to re-enter the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Due to the outbreak of the coronavirus, activities have shifted to virtual scenarios and activities that participants could do at home. Some of these home activities include recycling plastics, eating more plant-based food, and participating in digital teach-ins.

Earth Day, as a concept, pulls at our heartstrings because all people have a stake in what happens to the planet. Climate change is when politics supersedes science; hence, the Green New Deal. It’s all about the money.

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