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Earth Flags

Flags for Earth Day

There is no internationally agreed upon flag to represent the whole planet.

Look Magazine's Earth Day Flag

Look (1937-1971), was a bi-weekly, general-interest magazine from Des Moines, Iowa with an emphasis on photography. For their April 21, 1970 issue, Look magazine adapted Ron Cobb's ecology symbol to create a flag to commemorate the first Earth Day. Patterned after the flag of the United States, this Earth Day flag featured thirteen stripes and a green canton with a yellow Greek Theta symbol that resembled Cobb's original international symbol for ecology. In an article published alongside the flag image, Look magazine explained their symbolism. In classical Athens, the Theta (Θ) was also an abbreviation for the Greek word, thanatos ("death") and was used as a warning symbol, similar to today's skull and crossbones.

Betsy Vogel, a 16-year-old student in Shreveport, Louisiana sewed the ecology flag to fly at her high school during the first Earth Day. When the school denied Vogel permission, she took her case to the Louisiana Legislature where she was authorized by Governor John McKeithen to display the Earth Day flag in time for the historic event.

John McConnell's Earth Day Flag

The founder of the April 22nd Earth Day, John McConnell, also designed a flag for the first Earth Day in 1970. An early leader in the international peace movement, McConnell was inspired by first photos showing a view of the whole Earth from the 1969 Apollo 10 lunar mission. McConnell adopted this historic image to symbolize global unity and peace. Dr. Margaret Mead, a renowned anthropologist, called his Earth Day flag "the flag for the people," and carried it with her wherever she appeared from 1969 until her death in 1977.

According to a more recent court decision, no one holds a copyright or trademark on this first Earth Day flag design.

James W. Cadle's Flag of Earth

In 1970, a farmer from Illinois named James W. Cadle also created a "Flag of Earth." Cadle's version of the Earth flag consists of a blue circle representing Earth in the centre of the flag representing Earth, a segment of a large yellow circle representing the sun and a small white circle for the moon, all on a black background. Particularly popular amongst SETI researchers, this flag still is used by SETI worldwide. When Carl Sagan died, this Flag of the Earth was flown half mast. In 2003, the Flag of Earth became public domain in 2003.

Earth Day Vancouver © 2009. Earth Day Vancouver
Last modified: Apr. 21, 2010
Created: Mar. 18, 2009