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Earth Day celebrates 35th anniversary

Emphasis on air and water pollution, as well as other global factors, will be brought to the attention of millions today, as Friday marks the 35 anniversary of Earth Day.

Ever since 1970, April 22 has served as a forum for people to voice their concerns and become more environmentally conscious.

On the first Earth Day, “People came together from all walks of life to demand a cleaner, healthier and safer world for themselves and their children,” said President of Earth Day Network Kathleen Rogers at

Throughout the past month, various organizations and even businesses have extended the spirit of Earth Day.

According to , Starbucks is influencing conservation awareness by communicating environmental messages on their coffee cups. Tips printed on the cups include creating an organic garden, reduction in the amount of energy consumed and some new ideas on the importance of recycling.

According to the Web site, this year’s Earth Day events include the first environmental rally in Kiev, Ukraine, and a series of events throughout the United States focusing on air and water pollution in inner-city communities. The Earth Day Network is also working to expand civic action in China and South America and is leading a conference on water sustainability in Israel that is bringing together historically opposed ethnic groups to work together. Just in time for the environmentally conscious day, leaders of the House of Representatives met yesterday to approve an energy bill that will open an Alaska wildlife refuge to oil drilling, an AP story said.

“I think the Artic Wildlife refuge drilling question points out one of the problems with public awareness, which is perhaps why something like Earth Day can be useful,” USF hydrogeologist Mark Stewart said.

Although House Republicans expect to ease the dependence on foreign oil by producing more energy at home, Stewart suspects a different outcome.

“The idea that there’s oil in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge, which can be drilled for does not necessarily mean that it is going to relieve the oil crunch and gas supplies within the U.S.,” he said. “I would predict that most of that oil will end up being sold in either Japan or China, it won’t go into U.S. tanks.” Stewart went on to predict the length of recoverable reserves to last only 4-6 months, based on previous estimates.

Other environmentalist concerns center on the fear that drilling platforms could harm polar bears, caribou, migrating birds and other wildlife.

In the meantime, democrats are planning to filibuster any new bill, which will open the refuge to oil companies.

These issues may seem daunting for the individual to effect change, but the little changes we make in our daily lives can have an impact. To conserve energy, reducing the amount of trips you take by car or even keeping your tires inflated is good not only on the environment, but also on your wallet.

Turning off the light switch and faucet when you’re not using them are some other commonsense tips.

According to Walker, planting trees around the house is also a cool way to reduce the amount of energy your air-conditioning system uses, without having to suffer from heat stroke.

Making these habit changes is important, given the nature of Florida’s growing population. According to a census report, by 2030 Florida is expected to trail Texas and California as the third-most-populated state.

Apart from understanding global concerns, today is also an opportunity to reflect and cherish the natural world.

According to Director of the USF Botanical Gardens Laurie Walker, Earth Day was set aside so people could actually appreciate the world around them, and hopefully recognize and pay tribute to nature.