Earth Day 2018
This year, 2018, is the fiftieth anniversary of Apollo 8, the first manned mission to the moon. The spacecraft entered lunar orbit on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1968. During the fourth orbit of the moon, Astronaut Bill Anders took the famous photograph, shown here, of the Earth rising against the blackness of space. The photo, titled Earthrise, had a powerful impact on the world and is widely credited with inspiring the first Earth Day in 1970, an event that has been celebrated annually ever since.
The beauty, awe, and grandeur of the Earth rising over the moon created the realization that our planet needed help, and a special day was devoted to increasing understanding of the complex environmental issues facing Earth. This year that special day is today, April 22.
John McConnell (1915-2012), who dedicated much of his life’s work to peace, justice, and care of the earth, was the first to propose an Earth Day concept, but it was Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin who was instrumental in raising awareness about protecting the environment. On the first Earth Day, April 22, 1970, rallies were held in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles and on college campuses across the country. In 1990 Earth Day went global, with 200 million people in over 140 nations participating.
Forty-five years after the first Earth Day, our present Holy Father, Pope Francis, issued his own call to action. In Laudato Si’ (On Care for Our Common Home), addressed to “every person living on this planet,” Pope Francis calls for inclusive dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet and asks the Church and the world to acknowledge the urgency of our environmental challenges.
As Catholics, we live our faith by protecting God’s creation and advocating on behalf of those who face the harshest impacts of environmental degradation and climate change.
Laudato Si’ (On Care for Our Common Home).Encyclical by Pope Francis, May 24, 2015.