Monday, April 22, 2013

Earth Day, the Aiken way, 2013

Earth Day, the Aiken way, 2013, Well, it's April 22, Earth Day in the United States, a day that Aiken has remembered for quite a few years (more on that later.) Using Examiner's extensive on-line historical files, we find Earth Day was started in 1970 when Gaylord Nelson, U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, envisioned a national day of public consciousness of air and water pollution issues. Senator Nelson worked with Congressman Pete McCloskey as co-chairs and obtained the services of Denis Hayes and a staff of 85 to promote events across the land in support of conservation and anti-pollution efforts and needs and the first Earth Day was launched.
National Earth Day observances were continued in 1990, 2000, and 2010. Aiken has held a local observation, according to Mayor Cavanaugh, for the last 8 years. This year's Aiken event was held last Wednesday at Hopelands Park. If your town is having an event today, maybe you'd like to compare it with Aiken's.

Exhibitors at the Aiken event included Savannah River Remediation, the Ruth Patrick Observatory at the University of South Carolina-Aiken, the South Carolina Bluebird Society, Aiken County Litter Control, Aiken County Engineering with a display on storm water control, the City of Aiken with its non-polluting electric truck and mosquito control exhibits, Master Gardeners, the Audubon Society, the National Wild Turkey Federation, and the Savannah River Ecology Lab. If there were more, I didn't see 'em.

View slideshow: Aiken Earth Day

The first exhibit the students came upon was Savannah River Remediation's (SRR's.) Along with a number of descriptive exhibitions showing work that is being done to clean up the legacy radioactive wastes from the cold war at the Savannah River Site, SRR was giving away "Vials of Life", a valuable tool that many area homes use to help inform emergency personnel about particular assistance needs that they would have in the event of an emergency at the home.

The Ruth Patrick Observatory brought several telescopes and had them trained on the sun. Students and other participants observed the fingers of light, called "prominences," material that is continually thrown off the surface of the sun in all directions. A "pin-hole" like device was also trained on the sun providing an image that continually moved, slowly, due to the rotation of the earth. A number of bathroom scales were also set up calibrated to provide "what your weight would be on the moon," (not so much) and "what you would weigh on Jupiter," (quite a bit,) for example. While all the exhibits were interesting, Ruth Patrick's was definitely one of the most "hands on," or "feets on," that is, of all the exhibits. And it was fun.

Leaving Ruth Patrick, we ran into Mayor Cavanaugh. We reminded him we had seen him last year, to which he replied, "I've been here every year...This is so enjoyable." That was the extent of the interview (I hadn't called ahead! Also, he had not yet seen some of his "kids" and he was looking for them.) It's always good to see the Boss at these functions. Right after the Mayor left, Councilman Ebner walked up. Talk about being at the right place at the right time. With a little luck, we will see both of these gentlemen at their next City Council meeting on the evening of National Earth Day on the 22nd--tonight. And while no "Earth Day" issues seem to be on Council's agenda, talk about feral cats may bring some lively discussions.

To avoid the necessity of writing thousands and thousands of words (one picture is worth...) about the exhibits, we have taken the liberty of providing a few pictures in the "slide show" area to give you an idea of what was provided and why the bus loads of youngsters that came to the park will be looking forward to Earth Day next year. Snakes and turkeys and trucks, ha, ha, all were there and all were most interesting.

Liquid refreshments were provided by the City, and the students brought lunches which they dug into around elevenish while they watched (and listened to-to) a tom-tom ensemble while waiting on the Mayor to make a brief address. The address focused on Aiken being a "City of Trees," and it was well tailored to the elementary school audience. One thing I'm sure Mayor Cavanaugh would want to see here was what happens when that occasional tree might have to be cut down, usually due to disease. Whenever this is done, the City plants another, often two to replace it. What else would you expect from a "City of Trees?"

Like we said before, Earth Day in Aiken was fun. We're looking forward to being here this time next year. In the mean time, maybe we'll look up a few of the exhibitors. They each provided enough information to your examiner for a whole separate article, between the visits of groups of elementary students. Vehwee, intewesting, as our friend Elmer Fudd would have said, vehwee intewesting, and thanks for visiting Examiner.com.

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