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Mother Earth Saluted

Planet Earth is eons old, but Earth Day held to celebrate - and cherish - the world’s environment, is marking its 37th official observance thi syear on Sunday, April 22.

Once again will celebrate the environment in style with a plethora of events, including a week-long Earth Week observance at UCSD, beach clean-ups at La Jolla Shores and elsewhere in the Jewel, Balboa Park’s annual Earthfair and parade and a new exhibition on global warming opening soon at Birch Aquarium at Scripps.

Mayor Jerry Sanders also joined in the festivities recently, unveiling the city’s new “Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Program,” or EP3, requiring all city departments to use “environmental criteria” for purchasing everything from paper products to street lights and recycling by using retread tires for city vehicles.

The first Earth Day, a day to celebrate the environment, was organized in 1970 to promote the ideas of ecology, encourage respect for life on earth, and highlight growing concern over pollution of the soil, air and water. Earth Day is now observed in 140 nations with outdoor performances, exhibits, street fairs and television programs that focus on environmental issues.

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Balboa Park’s 18th annual Earthfair promises to really be something special this time around. “The theme this year is cool the Earth,” said Carolyn Chase, CEO/co-founder of Earthfair. “We have more exhibitors at this point than we’ve had in any other year. You’re definitely going to see some interesting things: a couple cool new hybrid cars including electric ZEN, zero emissions, no noise, cars, as well as a full electric truck.”

Chase said Earthfair exhibitors will all have something important to say to “try and convince people they have a way to improve the environment, reduce their impacts on it or improve their inner or outer health.”

Earthfair exhibitors represent every type of environmental organization, governmental program and commercial enterprise with goods, services and causes that address the environment and quality of life. Event fees charged are graduated to allow everyone to participate, from the smallest organization to the largest corporation.

Attractions at Earthfair include: traditional conservation organizations, wildlife preservation groups, products made from natural and organically grown crops, organic gardening information, alternative energy vehicles, ecotourism opportunities, many alternative and traditional health care products and services, pet adoption services, clean air and clean water products, rainforest preservation groups, and more.

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“Feeling the Heat: The Climate Challenge,” an interactive exhibition starting Saturday, May 19 at Birch Aquarium at Scripps, ties in neatly with this year’s Balboa Park “cool down” Earthfair theme. The exhibit poses the question, “How will global warming impact your life?” The exhibit answers that question by presenting the science of global warming, highlighting Scripps’ half-century commitment to studying climate change and educating visitors on current environmental changes and those projected for the future.

The interactive exhibit will clue participants in by: fast-forwarding to a television newsroom in 2050 broadcasting California’s weather report; displaying stunning images from around the planet that offer insight into staggering environmental changes under way; magnify microscopic fossils to explore ways scientists track temperature across centuries; test guest’s knowledge of whether everyday items contribute to climate change or help reduce its effects; teach what critical role the oceans play in global temperature; and calculate the various ways humans contribute to climate warming while discovering the latest ideas for reducing carbon emissions.

“It focuses on the scientific knowledge behind climate change, how we’ve come to understandings we have about global warming and how climate change occurs,” said Nigella Hillgarth, executive director of The Birch Aquarium at Scripps.

Hillgarth noted there’s been a tremendous natural variation in Earth’s cyclical climate over the last 800,000 years. Of that, there is no question. What is at issue is the causality of that change, particularly the most notable warming the planet has experienced over the past century. “One thing scientific fact has known for 140 years is carbon dioxide traps infrared heat, the ray’s of the sun,” noted Hillgarth. “If we didn’t have carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, we couldn’t live on this planet. It’s simple physics: add carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and it will trap more heat. There is unprecedented consensus among scientists in the world today that because of all the carbon dioxide from burning of fossil fuels in the atmosphere over the past century, that the world is hotter now than at any time we’ve been able to measure in the last 800,000 years. A lot of that has occurred in the last couple decades.”

UCSD ushers in Earth Day with an Earth Week celebration April 16-20. University students and staff will be showing just how it is “easy being green” during the week-long series of 30 events ranging from a clean car show and a video competition to nightly organic dinners and celebrity author book signings. Also taking place are exhibits of UCSD environmental research, an Eco Job Fair, a garbage sort and tours of the campus cogeneration plant supplying more than 90 percent of the campuses’ electricity.

Chancellor Marye Anne Fox will kick off the week at noon, Monday, April 16 in the UCSD Price Center with a sustainability awards ceremony honoring the campuses’ sustainability leaders. Recycled glass trophies will be presented to the award winners in various categories.

“As stewards of our campus community, we are compelled to address environmental challenges and implement innovative sustainable solutions. The 41,000 of us who populate the campus daily can create the synergy for future innovation - both on and off campus - through our personal commitment to sustainability,” said Chancellor Fox.

Also on April 16, former U.S. Vice President Al Gore’s “Inconvenient Truth” slideshow on global warming will be presented at 4:30 p.m. in the Price Center. The slide show and the documentary film that it is based on refers to the seminal research of UCSD founder and Scripps scientist Roger Revelle and colleague Charles David Keeling, which was the first to demonstrate and measure the earth’s global warming by showing increases over time in carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.

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Student research exhibits during UCSD’s Earth Week will range from evaluating plant-based composite materials for compostable plates and cups to improving our understanding of the nitrogen budget in the earth’s system. In addition to the exhibits, on April 19, UCSD students will present a proposal for a 100 percent biodiesel “Greenline” bus pilot program on campus.

“We’re using the video competition and the research exhibit to showcase the very wide range of research that students are conducting, and how diverse and interdisciplinary sustainability research at UCSD is, among students as well as faculty,” said Lisa Shaffer, executive director of UCSD’s Environment & Sustainability Initiative.

A first-time Eco Job Fair will be held at UCSD Tuesday, April 17 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at UCSD’s Career Services Center. “The purpose of the Eco Job Fair is to bring together socially and environmentally conscious businesses and organizations with exceptional UCSD students who want to apply their skills and enthusiasm in the sustainability arena,” noted Jenny Kressel, employer events specialist. “Participating employers will recruit students for positions across a wide variety of fields including technology, renewable energy, consulting, communications, life sciences, nonprofits and government.”

Organic dinners are scheduled each night of the week at different campus eating establishments.

For more information about UC San Diego’s green practices and the Environment & sustainability Initiative visit: https://sustain.ucsd.edu.

No Earth Day would be complete without beach cleanup activities involving San Diego’s extensive coastline. On Saturday, April 21, the day before Earth Day, scuba divers and Land Lovers will join together for the Ocean Enterprises Annual Earth Day Beach Cleanup. The free event begins at La Jolla Shores at 8 a.m.

Ocean Enterprises will have teams cleaning the La Jolla Shores beach area stretching from the Marine Room to Black’s Beach, as well as La Jolla Cove and connecting beaches to the Children’s Pool. Shuttles will be provided to and from alternate locations from La Jolla Shores. Participants will receive T-shirts and prizes for trash collected, as well as a free barbecue lunch served at 11 a.m. at La Jolla Shores. Participants can sign up for the Ocean Enterprises Earth Day Beach Cleanup by going to www.oceanenterprises.com and submitting their online registration. Participants are asked to sign up by Saturday, April 14.

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