Today in labor history: First Earth Day teach-in held

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The late environmentalist, Sen. Gaylord Nelson, D-Wis., founded Earth Day as an environmental teach-in first held on April 22, 1970.

While this April 23, Earth Day was focused on the United States, an organization launched by environmental activist Denis Hayes took it international in 1990 and organized events in 141 nations.

In 2009, the UN moved to make Earth Day a global holiday. The General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution by Bolivian President Evo Morales to designate April 22 as "Mother Earth Day."

In 2011, Marc Brodine wrote in the People's World:

"The environmental movement is not really a single movement with a unified approach. Some organizations focus on electoral activism (the League of Conservation Voters), others on preserving undeveloped land (the Nature Conservancy), others on legislative action and coalition building (the Sierra Club), others on threats of species extinction, to list just a few.

"Alongside these movements, there are many scientists and inventors working hard at finding new and better ways of accomplishing energy production, manufacturing, agriculture, and transportation.

"Additionally, there are many organizations, including unions, which organize to fight particular health and environmental threats, and there are many millions of people who strive to make better choices for the environment in their own lives."

Union workers are speaking out more clearly and loudly than ever before for "good jobs, green jobs" and a clean energy economy.

The Blue-Green Alliance Foundation unites 14 of the U.S. largest unions and environmental organizations. Acting together, through more than 15 million members and supporters, they are a powerful voice for building a cleaner, fairer and more competitive American economy. Their staff designs public policies, performs research, and runs advocacy and public education campaigns.

One of the major environmental concerns in the U.S. today is the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, a 36-inch pipeline dedicated to carrying diluted bitumen from Hardisty, Alberta to Steele City, Nebraska, ultimately carrying tar sands oil from Canada to refineries in tax free "Foreign Trade Zones" on the Gulf Coast.

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., has this to saypn the project:

Reject Keystone XL; Our Focus Should Be on Investing in a Sustainable Energy Future: "We need to invest in a sustainable energy future. For our children's sake and our grand children's, we must not continue to build massive fossil fuel infrastructure that increases emissions, threatens our climate and makes extreme weather more likely. President Obama should reject this project."

Bill McKibben of 350.org which is assiduously organizing against Keystone XL, says: "There are an awful lot of reasons to oppose Keystone XL, from the danger of spills to the hideous damage the mining does on native land in Alberta.

"Underlying them all, however, is the sheer quantity of carbon that the pipeline will pour into the atmosphere-and a new report provides the vivid numbers.  In a single year, the pipeline will add as much carbon dioxide to the atmosphere as all the cars in California, Washington, Oregon, Florida, Michigan, and New York combined."

The American Society of Civil Engineers recently issued their 2013 report card on America's infrastructure - and it was only a D+.

The Communist Party USA posted a statement today that instead of the environmentally disastrous and economically unsound Keystone XL pipeline:

"We need a real jobs program to create living wage jobs that don't harm the environment!

There are thousands of infrastructure projects which could put tens of thousands of unemployed construction workers to work, hundred of thousands of jobs retrofitting both residential and commercial buildings and cut heating bills, and millions of jobs building the new energy economy and smart electrical grid to have a sustainable future."

Photo: NASA

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