Can We Take Earth Day Seriously, While Also Mocking It?

By Keith Kloor | April 22, 2013 10:12 am

As Reuters puts it:

If the environmental movement has a high holiday, Earth Day is it.

After four decades, the annual celebration of good deeds and eco-awareness in the United States is as meaningful to environmentalists as St. Patrick’s day is to the Irish. Both annual events are green and festive. One is a sanctioned feel-good orgy of sanctimony and sacrifice, the other is a sanctioned feel-good orgy of alcohol and excess. Both events have become nearly impossible to parody.

Several years ago, I’m pretty sure a CNN anchor was having some fun with Earth Day when he supposedly confessed his eco-sins. People took him seriously.

I’m not suggesting we shouldn’t take a moment (or several) out of the day to reflect on the importance of clean air and water and the needs of other species that share the planet with us. And I’m not averse to using the symbolism of Earth Day as a means to bring people together for a good cause–stewardship of the environment.

I’m no scrooge. My 8-year old son and I wished each other a Happy Earth Day during our walk to his school this morning. I hope his teachers talk today about why it’s important to care about the planet. I’m happy to reinforce that message at home. At the same time, I’m happy to share this George Carlin classic with the rest of you.

Happy Earth Day.


  • Buddy199

    “SAVE THE WHALES!…save those snails…” Ha!! He’ll be missed, thank God for video (bio-degradable, non-animal tested of course).

  • windy2

    If I only had one day in the year to celebrate it would be Pączki Day.

  • JonFrum

    Earth Day – a holiday for those who believe in neither religion nor nationalism.


Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!


Collide-a-Scape is an archived Discover blog. Keep up with Keith's current work at

About Keith Kloor

Keith Kloor is a NYC-based journalist, and an adjunct professor of journalism at New York University. His work has appeared in Slate, Science, Discover, and the Washington Post magazine, among other outlets. From 2000 to 2008, he was a senior editor at Audubon Magazine. In 2008-2009, he was a Fellow at the University of Colorado’s Center for Environmental Journalism, in Boulder, where he studied how a changing environment (including climate change) influenced prehistoric societies in the U.S. Southwest. He covers a wide range of topics, from conservation biology and biotechnology to urban planning and archaeology.


See More

Collapse bottom bar