First celebrated in Canada on Sept 11, 1980, Earth Day is an annual, international (but unofficial) holiday staged to draw attention to the need for environmental protection.
Here in Ottawa, Earth Day activities include a tree giveaway by Junk.ca at City Hall and Earth Day yoga at PranaShanti Yoga Centre.
But perhaps the largest happening today was Canada’s environment minister, Peter Kent, and Alberta’s environment and sustainable resource development minister, Diana McQueen, releasing federal and provincial data on the environmental effects of the oil sands to the public through an online portal.
“Today, as the world celebrates Earth Day and showcases commitments to protecting the environment, Canada is contributing and doing its part. We are delivering on our promise to ensure that scientific data from the monitoring activity is transparent and accessible,” Kent said. “With this portal, our respective governments are actively encouraging informed discussions and analysis on the impacts of oil sands development based on high-quality scientific information.”
“Alberta is proud to co-lead the development and implementation of this world-class, science-based monitoring program for the oil sands,” McQueen said. “By openly reporting on our data and our progress, we are ensuring the rest of the world recognizes our commitment to responsible and sustainable resource development.”
Given the fervent opposition to the oil sands and the Keystone XL pipeline in Canada and the US, transparency seems like a step in the right direction. However, the portal may end up giving more ammunition to protesters who will now have concrete evidence that the oil sands are doing more harm than good.
Here are five environment-themed songs for Earth Day that either comment on humans' impact on the planet or question government action (or inaction).
“Kyoto Now,” Bad Religion
“The Last Living Rose,” PJ Harvey
“Never Turn Your Back on Mother Earth,” Neko Case
“The Earth Died Screaming,” Tom Waits
“Big Yellow Taxi,” Joni Mitchell