Last Saturday, April 22, the world celebrated Earth Day, a day devoted to supporting the environment. Gaylord Nelson, a Senator from Wisconsin, was disturbed that environmental issues were not addressed in politics or by the media in late 1960s. He founded the celebration of the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970 and today more than 193 countries worldwide demonstrate their united support for environmental protection.
In addition to celebrating Earth Day, the University of Maine celebrated Earth Week all throughout last week. On Monday, UMaine Green Team showed how to turn old t-shirts into reusable tote bags. Starting from Tuesday, UMaine Climate Change Institute hosted showings of the entire first season of Years of Living Dangerously—an Emmy Award winning documentary series on global warming. Green team also hosted a showing of Sacred Cod—a documentary about overfishing and the impacts of warming ocean; this film hits home for many New Englanders. Director and professor of the UMaine Climate Change Institute Dr. Paul Mayewski gave a talk on Wednesday titled: Climate Change: Scientific Evidence or Alternative “Facts”?
UMaine students and community members had a chance to be at one with nature through garden yoga and a nature appreciation walk. The biggest event of last week was the March for Science, which was held at the university mall last Saturday. Scientists and others showed support for science and evidence-based research. This worldwide movement rose amid proposed budget cuts by Tump administration which aim at agencies that fund scientific work, such as the Environmental Protection Agency.
Music attracted Jackson Haynes to the Memorial Union bus-stop last Friday. Haynes, a first-year, was on his way to do his homework at Fogler Library when he heard the Cards, a local deep house band, play at the annual EarthFest.
“I had to go see it,” Haynes said.
Put on by UMaine Democrats and the UMaine Green Team, EarthFest brought together five local bands and several organizations such as Maine Students for Climate Justice and Vegan Club.
“You are in an atmosphere where people want change,” Haynes said, describing the festival. “They know what’s happening in the world and they are educated.”
Despite the rain, the festival was held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Memorial Union bus stop patio. Several students came back to the festival in between their classes. Free pizza, ice cream, dirt cake (a dessert made of oreos, gummy worms and chocolate pudding) and potted plants were given away at the festival. Students, staff and even bus drivers got to listen to the bands bring their own sound to the festival.
“They all play such different music, so the atmosphere changed every band,” Jayson Peltier, a fourth-year wildlife ecology student, said. “People were happy, excited, and there was a little bit of electricity flowing through.” Cosa Nostra, Phosphenes, Terra Nova, The Cards, Davey Halfbeard and Jake Prest performed at the festival.
Among the organizations tabling at the EarthFest was Maine for Environmental Advocacy, a newly founded club that is waiting for recognition. Laura Mattas, a second-year earth climate science and chemistry student is the founder and president of the club.
“I wanted to get our club’s name out there, and our mission, which is to advocate for environmental consciousness and climate change through education,” Mattas said. “Events like this give more of an environmental consciousness and awareness, letting people know how to get involved. It brings the community together, when you can see people fighting for the same cause and having the same thoughts as you.”