Apr 22 2010

Earth Day at 40

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Forty years ago Earth Day was created to organize environmental teach-ins, to channel frustrations with nuclear proliferation and burning rivers and to brand a national movement. Earth Day is now a global network powered by a new generation of environmental activists.

More importantly, sustainability has become a household word and a lifestyle practice that impacts both consumer and business behavior. Today, sustainability is as important to the corporate bottom line as it is to the environment.

As such, I intended to write about best practices in green communications—from Brita to Pepsi to Seventh Generation there are numerous case studies in corporate and social responsibility demonstrating how companies are implementing sustainability initiatives and communicating with their stakeholders.

Last night, however, I had the opportunity to attend the Earth Day Eve Leadership Celebration, part of the first Creating Climate Wealth Summit hosted by the Earth Day Network and the Carbon War Room held at the Georgetown McDonough School of Business, April 20 to 22, 2010. What better way to celebrate Earth Day than to share the insights of movement leaders?

Sir Richard Branson, Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke, UN High Commissioner of Human Rights Mary Robinson, Earth Day Network President Kathleen Rogers and Earth Day 1970 Organizer Denis Hayes spoke about the history of the movement and the need for continued action. My @tasj tweets from the dinner at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center follow (with typos for authenticity).

#DenisHayes – I thought in 1980 we were in an energy revolution. It was an information revolution instead #EarthDay

#EarthDay  #DenisHayes Transformation has been stunning. More apps for iPhone than computer in 1970.

#EarthDay  – In early 1970s helped spawn creation of EPA, clean water act, endangered species act, among others.

#EarthDay created a new vocab even though worries about nuclear war and burning rivers already existed.

#EarthDay  – 40 years ago, 20 million people, $125,000. Today #EarthDay is a global movement. Tx #DenisHayes

#GaryLocke need clarity in regulatory envionment for investment and innovation in clean energy technologies

#EarthDay future is the marriage of commerce and the environment. #GaryLocke [jokes he is] opening act for #Melissa Etheridge

# MaryRobinson 1.6 billion without eletricity deserve small solar, clean water and better living conditions

#MaryRobinson Climate Change is not just polar bears. It’s about Climate Justice – providing skills/knowledge for clean energy

#RichardBranson climate change is about creating new technology and changing way we live our lives – as his mobile rings

Photo: Chris Kormis, Deborah Hudson, Tracy Schario