Today is Earth Day and a good time to consider the Earth as a
whole. Thanks to an impressive set of videos released by NASA in
celebration of Earth Month, we can take a wide-angle view of the
The first video serves to demonstrate the many images generated
by NASA’s fleet of science satellites and aircraft. The space
agency chose to accompany the video with music rather than
narration, which ties together the images better than a detailed
description. To delve more deeply into the science behind the
images, visit NASA’s “Missions”
The second video shows the beauty of the Earth as seen from the
International Space Station. The third is a blend of Earth images,
computer animations and glimpses of the science behind it all.
Although these videos are not amusing in a humorous way, I hope
you’ll find them worth a look on Earth Day.
If you would like more NASA videos, still images and
explanations, check out NASA’s “Earth
A few quick notes on Earth Day activities this weekend.
First, if you haven’t been to Pacific Science Center
in Seattle lately, you may be surprised by some of the new events
and exhibits on tap for this weekend.
Of special note is “Science
on a Sphere,” a new permanent exhibit that uses computers and
video projectors to animate a globe, which is used to demonstrate
atmospheric changes and the effects of heating and cooling across
the Earth’s ocean and land masses.
Special programs on the sphere Sunday include “Chasing The Rain”
at 10:50 a.m. and 2:20 p.m. along with Oceans, Earthquakes &
Tsunamis. The exhibit, provided by National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration, is similar to spheres installed in about 80
locations throughout the world.
“To the Arctic 3D,” being shown throughout the day in the
Boeing Imax Theater, presents an up-close look at a landscape of
immense glaciers, spectacular waterfalls and snow-crusted peaks
while telling the story of a polar bear and her cubs. Check ahead
Check out the
Earth Day page for other events at Pacific Science Center on
Meanwhile, Orca Network is holding its annual “Welcome the Whales
Day” tomorrow on Whidbey Island. Costume-making and a critter
parade are part of the fun. On the educational side, Bruce Mate,
director of the Oregon State University’s Marine Mammal Institute,
will discuss gray whales and the animals he has tracked throughout
the Pacific Ocean to discover their migration patterns.
For local events, I wrote a piece in the
Kitsap Sun about Earth Day activities in Kitsap County.
To me, Earth Day has always meant two things: education and
action. Of course, I would never object to the entertainment that
accompanies many Earth Day events, because learning and good deeds
ought to involve fun and laughter.
For years, my wife Sue and I drove over to Sequim on the
Saturday after Earth Day to help clean up Dungeness Spit, which
happens to be the place she and I went on our first date many years
ago. We stopped going for health reasons but hope to get started
Tracyton resident Don Larson has organized the Sinclair Inlet
Cleanup twice each year for the past 21 years. Now Don and his
fellow organizer John Denis are a couple of guys who truly
understand the Earth Day spirit and what it means to give back to
Don told me this week that he was impressed with the crew that
showed up at Saturday’s cleanup. He was particularly inspired by
Jim Anderson, a 66-year-old Bremerton resident who regularly picks
up trash along the Bremerton boardwalk as he moves along in an
electric wheelchair, accompanied by his guide dog Raffle.
“He’s a phenomenal guy,” Larson said. “He has these hand-grabber
picker-ups. He and his wife Jackie clean up periodically all year
long as he moves around the waterfront.
“With Jim and Jackie, the human spirit really comes out. You
hear about all the bad stuff in the world, then you meet a person
like that who gets out and helps the community. It just makes you
Two years ago for Earth Day, Lewis Black on “The Daily Show”
turned his sarcasm to what he called “the equivalent of Christmas
for our home planet.” He actually made a few good points. So, with
Earth Day coming up on Friday, I thought it would be appropriate to
share this video with you.
The second video comes from “The Colbert Report,” in which
Stephen Colbert celebrates Earth Day with a little trash talk for
If two men shouting insults in celebration of our “blue planet”
fails to strike a chord, I offer you another view of this “holiday”
from Bea Wildered, a cartoon character on Planet Green.
Environmental education has undergone a revolution since the
first Earth Day 40 years ago, as I describe in a story I wrote for
Sunday’s Kitsap Sun, which I called “The Evolution of
The word “sustainability” is emphasized in the new “Integrated
Environmental and Sustainability Education Learning Standards.”
Unlike other educational standards, this new approach does not
include specific grade-level expectations.
The standards call for an understanding of: 1) Ecological,
social and economic systems, 2) the natural and built environment,
and 3) sustainability and civic responsibility.
I hope you’ll read
the Sunday piece, which includes an interactive map of
environmental programs and projects across the Kitsap Peninsula.
You’ll meet Lisa Hawkins, a first-grade teacher who built an
outdoor classroom — a certified wildlife habitat — in a courtyard
at Poulsbo Elementary School.
This amazing young teacher has a special relationship with her
students, especially when they are exploring freely and finding
connections among living things.
Here are some links for creating habitats to foster
environmental learning at all grade levels.
Dennis McLerran, the new regional administrator for the
Environmental Protection Agency, held his first news conference
today, saying he wanted to touch base with reporters during Earth
This year is not only the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, he
noted, but also the 40th anniversary of the EPA. McLerran said he
was a freshman at the University of Washington in 1970, the year of
the first Earth Day. (That’s the year that I graduated from Mercer
Island High School. Like McLerran, I have been involved in
environmental issues for much of the last 40 years.)
Coming to the EPA from the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency,
said he has had to expand his horizons to take in all environmental
issues. “Wall-to-wall briefings” has been “kind of like drinking
from a fire hose,” he said today.
The regional administrator said he was taking many clues from
his boss, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson — including focusing on
her top seven priorities:
Taking Action on Climate Change
Improving Air Quality
Assuring the Safety of Chemicals
Cleaning Up Our Communities
Protecting America’s Waters
Expanding the Conversation on Environmentalism and Working for
Building Strong State and Tribal Partnerships
Additional notes from McLerran’s comments and responses to
I have to admit a certain fondness for the clay animated
creatures that have come to life thanks to Aardman Animations,
which has fostered a bunch of creative animations, including
Wallace & Gromit.
Since this is the week of Earth Day, I thought I would present
the series of Earth-friendly tips offered by some strange but
lovable animals. The short videos were produced for Animal Planet
in the UK, and I’m not sure if they were shown in the U.S.
Aardman Animations, started by Peter Lord and David Sproxton,
has an interesting history. Starting out with simple projects in
1975, the animations grew more sophisticated through the years. You
may remember their first full-length movie, “Chicken Run,” which
won numerous awards. Continue reading →