"Tree of Life" Theme of PEEC's Earth Day 2009

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By The Staff

For the 10th consecutive year, the Pajarito Environmental Education Center (PEEC) is organizing the Earth Day celebration in Los Alamos.

The theme of this year's event is “Tree of Life,” in recognition of the bicentennial of Charles Darwin’s birth and the 150th anniversary (sesquicentennial) of the publication of his most famous book “On the Origin of Species.”

The growth and branching of trees is a metaphor that Darwin used to explain an aspect of his theory of evolution. Species evolve from common ancestors, with more closely related species having branched apart more recently.

As Darwin stated more elaborately, “As buds give rise by growth to fresh buds, and these, if vigorous, branch out and overtop on all sides many a feebler branch, so by generation I believe it has been with the great ‘Tree of Life’....”

While many organizations have events this year that recognize Charles Darwin, and many are also celebrating Earth Day, not many organizations have combined Earth Day and recognition of Darwin into one event.

In fact, when I googled “Earth Day and Darwin” the other day, PEEC's website (www.PajaritoEEC.org) was the fifth in the list of search results.

The first item in this list was a short video about earthworms and Darwin’s last publication “The Formation of Vegetable Mould Through the Action of Worms,” one of Darwin's less well known works and not one that is directly related to his theory of evolution.

This work on earthworms does, however, point to connections between Darwin, PEEC, and Earth Day. Darwin was an inveterate observer and appreciator of nature in all its manifestations.

It is the mission of PEEC to promote this same appreciation and understanding of nature, and it is our belief that knowledge of nature inspires people to be better caretakers of the environment.

 And this belief accords with the reasons Earth Day was founded: to bring attention to stresses on the Earth’s environment and to promote a healthy and sustainable environment.

Earth Day, which is officially April 22, was founded in 1970 by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson and Earth Day 1970 is sometimes hailed as the beginning of the modern environmental movement.

Having started as a relatively small call to community action in America, Earth Day has since grown to a worldwide and year-round movement that supports a sustainable environment on Earth.

Los Alamos’ Earth Day celebration has also been growing in size, with about 1000 attending the Earth Day Festival last year. This year there will be four main Earth Day events in Los Alamos.  

On Wednesday, April 22, during the day there will be tours of the County's new Eco Station. On the evening of April 22 there will be a talk entitled “Evolution and Conservation in the Galapagos: A Window to Worldwide Patterns?” by Prof. Howard Snell of UNM and the Charles Darwin Research Station in the Galapagos Islands.

The Earth Day Festival is on Saturday, April 25, and will feature a return performance of the Renaissance entertainment group Clan Tynker. Finally, PEEC’s main fundraising event of the year, the Party for PEEC, will take place on Sunday, April 26.

For the times, locations, and more information about these Earth Day events, see PEEC’s nicely designed web site www.PajaritoEEC.org and click on the Earth Day link.

There you will also see the names of the many sponsors who are making Earth Day 2009 possible. More information will also be available in the Earth Day tabloid, to be published in the Los Alamos Monitor on Sunday, April 19.

Please join us this year in celebrating Earth Day and supporting your community nature center, PEEC.