Earth Day Celebration 2024

The unwavering flame of Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson’s environmental spirit burns brightly around the world each Earth Day.  Alarmed by more and more shores fouled by oil spills, city air darkened by smog, rivers so polluted they caught fire and burned, and farmland tainted by pesticides, Nelson envisioned a world with clean air to breath, clean water to drink and healthy, clean soil to grow our food in.  The result was the first Earth Day, April 22, 1970, and it unified both Democrats and Republicans, city folk and country folk, rich and poor, business and industry in a common commitment to take better care of planet Earth.


This year, thanks to the Citizen’s Climate Lobby, NAOMI and the City Parks Department, Wausau will celebrate Earth Day for the eighth straight year.  At 10 on Saturday morning, April 27 in Brockmeyer Park we will plant an orchard of fruit trees for the enjoyment of future park goers, whether they be pollinators, wildlife or human.  A Native American ceremonial Talking Circle where everyone can share their environmental concerns will close out the morning.


Since the unity of that first Earth Day we have become a much more polarized country.  For that reason we strive to make our Earth Day a celebration of inclusion with tree planting teams representing our proud diversity.  We weave a rich patchwork made of the many racial, ethnic, religious, gender and political threads that make Central Wisconsin a place to celebrate one another and our common planetary heritage.  We encourage you to join the celebration, you will be welcome.


Much important legislation was inspired by that first Earth Day, including the formation of the Environmental Protection Agency, The Environmental Education Act, the Clean Air Act and shortly thereafter The Clean Water Act.


While the air in our cities is cleaner, while our rivers no longer burn, our environmental challenges remain.  Historical problems, pollution from oil, coal and gas as well as industrial waste, mining waste and pesticides continue to plague us.  Some are new.  It wasn’t until 1988 that climate scientist James Hansen alerted Congress to the threat of climate change – a threat becoming clearer with each passing year.  The dangers of degraded plastics and of the toxic chemicals involved in their production are just now being exposed, as is their presence in our bodies.  And PFAS, the forever chemical, has landed on the environmental stage with clanging alarm bells.


The urgency of the threats to our planetary life support system highlights the need to celebrate this special planet .  Let us come together on April 27 to celebrate Earth Day, to honor her and recommit ourselves to her protection and care.