Earth Day 2000

By Cynthia Kirk

This is Bill White with the VOA Special English ENVIRONMENT REPORT.

On Saturday, hundreds of millions of people around the world will celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of Earth Day. More than four-thousand organizations are planning events in almost two-hundred countries. Earth Day Two-Thousand is expected to be the largest environmental event in history.

Earth Day is a yearly call for people to work together to save the planet. The first Earth Day took place in the United States on April twenty-second, Nineteen-Seventy. Former Senator Gaylord Nelson started Earth Day because he believed few public officials were concerned about the environment. He organized a nationwide effort to educate people about environmental issues. Twenty-million Americans took part.

The first Earth Day helped make the environment an important political and social issue. It led to the passage of important legislation in the United States. Those laws included the clean air and clean water acts and the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency. Experts say the environment in the United States is better than it was thirty years ago. There are stronger laws and better technologies. And more people are concerned about the issues. But experts say there are major threats around the world. These include overpopulation, the reduction in animal and plant species and the rising temperature of the Earth.

Air and water pollution are still serious problems in many developing countries. The Earth's growing population is putting more pressure on land and water supplies. The destruction of tropical forests threatens rare kinds of animals and plants. And, scientists say that burning fuels such as oil and coal is causing a dangerous warming of the Earth. They say global warming could be affecting the weather, increasing water levels and changing the planet's structure.

Denis Hayes helped organize the first Earth Day in Nineteen-Seventy. He has rejoined the campaign for Earth Day Two-Thousand. He says the goal this year is to work toward the use of cleaner forms of energy for transportation, heating and lighting. The campaign also will deal with global warming and its effect on health, air, water and wildlife.

Some environmentalists question whether Earth Day will be effective. But Mr. Hayes says he is hopeful this year's event will lead to international action on clean energy.

This VOA Special English ENVIRONMENT REPORT was written by Cynthia Kirk. This is Bill White.

Voice of America Special English