Sunday, April 22 is Earth Day!

This is a day when people around the world come together to celebrate the planet and to take action to protect her. Earth Day was the brain child of United States Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson in the spring of 1970, before the Environmental Protection Agency existed. Senator Nelson got together with Harvard University professor Denis Hayes to put together a national awareness elebration to highlight the fact that there were no laws in effect to protect the Earth from the damage mankind was doing to her.

On April 22, 1970, the first Earth Day, twenty million Americans took to the streets demanding action on environmental pollution. Before the end of that year, Congress established the EPA to ensure environmental protection. That lead to the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act and many other environmental laws.

Earth Day went global in 1990 with more than two hundred million people all over the world putting environmental issues on the world stage. Now more than one billion people in one hundred ninety two countries participate in Earth Day activities.

Even though our current administration has made a mockery of what this day stands for, they will not last. Their impact, while so difficult to accept after all the progress made, will fade and be repaired. Meanwhile, individuals who are still conscious of our living planet and the damage we have done to her (and still do) take action until our government gets its head on straight.

And here are some interesting astronomical (not astrological) items from an article in the March 2018 issue of National Geographic that are tidbits about our Earth to remind us how great she is (covered in the ongoing television series “One Strange Rock”, currently playing on the NatGeo channel).

Thirteen Things That Make Life on Earth Possible

by Manuel Canales, Matthew W. Chwastyk, and Eve Conant

1 Our planet recycles life-friendly carbon over time.

Carbon dioxide is one of many greenhouse gases that trap heat and keep Earth’s surface warm enough to support life. The static surfaces of Venus and Mars keep carbon locked in the air and rocks. But over millions of years, Earth dynamically cycles this vital element through its air, land and sea, due to the constant action of plate tectonics.

2 We have an ozone layer to block harmful rays.

Ancient plantlike organisms in the oceans added oxygen to the atmosphere and created a high-altitude layer of ozone that shielded early land species from lethal radiation.

3 We have a big moon to stabilize our axial wobble.

Earth is tilted with respect to the sun, and teeters as it spins. This tiny wobble can shift the climate from hot to icy every 41,000 years – and might vary more without the moon’s stabilizing pull.

4 Earth’s varied surfaces support many life-forms.

The dramatic effects of plate tectonics formed different surface habitats and terrains. This spurred adaptation, helping life diversify and survive several mass extinctions.

5 Our magnetic field deflects solar tempests.

Sparked by charged particles from the sun, mesmerizing auroras are a visual reminder of our magnetic field, which deflects the bulk of our star’s damaging radiation and solar outbursts.

6 We’re just the right distance form the sun.

Earth orbits in the so-called Goldilocks zone, where it’s not too close and not too far from the sun for water to be liquid on its surface.

7 We’re situated safely away from gas giants.

If the orbits of the solar system’s biggest planets were much closer, tugs from their powerful gravity could cause disastrous fluctuations in Earth’s distance from the sun.

8 The sun is a stable long-lasting star.

Stars more massive than the sun burn hotter and usually don’t live long enough for planets to develop life. Less massive, younger stars are often unstable and are prone to blasting their planets with bursts of radiation.

9 We have the right stuff to host a dynamic core.

The interstellar cloud of gas and dust that gave rise to Earth contained enough radioactive elements to power a churning core for billions of years. This creates a magnetic field that protects the planet from dangers like solar flares.

10 We have giant planets that protect us from afar.

Jupiter’s strong gravity sent water-rich asteroids crashing into early Earth. Today the massive planet thins out the asteroid belt, protecting Earth from overly frequent collisions that might trigger extinctions.

11 Our sun offers protection from galactic debris.

The sun engulfs its planets in a bubble of charged particles that repel dangerous radiation and harmful materials coming from interstellar space.

12 Our galactic path steers us clear of hazards.

The solar system is comfortably nestled in a safe harbor between major spiral arms, and its nearly circular orbit helps it avoid the galaxy’s perilous inner regions.

13 Our location is far from stellar crowds.

There are relatively few stars near the sun, reducing risks to Earth from gravitational tugs, gamma-ray bursts, or collapsing starts called supernovae.

Non-astronomically, the Earth is the heart chakra of our solar system. We live in a symbiotic relationship with her. I once asked her if it would be better for her if mankind was gone and she responded that she would be too lonely so she would never make that happen. She puts up with our learning curve, right now leaving us to ourselves to figure things out. But she’s still here for us, giving us the classroom of time and space, and air to breathe, water to drink, food to eat. She is our mother in all aspects of the word.

Do something for the Earth today, even if it’s just thanking her for providing us with everything we need to live. Plant something, or water something planted. Donate to a charity that helps her, either money or your time. Honor our Mother Earth in some way because she still needs our help.

Happy Earth Day! Wishing you and our Earth a great one!

I offer this with love and gratitude…

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