Celebrating the History of Earth Day
Care2 Earth Month: Back to Basics
This year, Care2 decided to expand Earth Day into Earth Month, since there is so much to explore when it comes to the environment. Every day in April, we’ll have a post about some of the most important topics for the environment, exploring and explaining the basics. It’s a great tool to help you get started with helping the environment — or help explain it to others. See the whole series here.
Earth Day is a day of action and a celebration of the birth of the modern environmental movement. On April 22nd 1970, the first Earth Day was a day of national protest. US Senator Gaylord Nelson was inspired by the Vietnam War protests on college campuses, and decided to organize a large-scale grassroots demonstration to educate Americans about the important of environmentalism.
It worked. 20 million people across the US participated in the first Earth Day. And the influence of Nelson’s idea didn’t stop there. 1970 saw the founding of the National Resources Defense Council and the Environmental Protection Agency. The environmental advocacy organization Greenpeace was founded soon after, in 1971. Within the next few years, the burgeoning environmental movement managed to pass the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, and Endangered Species Act.
In 1980, Gaylord Nelson lost his seat in the Senate. At this point, he decided to continue his environmental work outside of government, joining The Wilderness Society. He would receive a Presidential Medal of Freedom for his role in founding Earth Day from President Clinton in in 1995 – the highest honor awarded to civilians in the US.
In 1990, Earth Day went global. The 20th Anniversary celebration spanned 141 different countries, with 200 million participants. It boosted recycling efforts worldwide and set the stage for the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit.
The movement reached another milestone in 2000, when Earth Day focused on the pressing issues of global warming and the need for clean energy. 5,000 environmental groups in 184 different countries helped organize the event.
In 2005, Gaylord Nelson passed away at age 89. He lived to see Earth Day grow to a truly global scale – current estimates place the number of participants in this annual celebration at over one billion people worldwide.
How are Care2 readers celebrating Earth Day? Are you participating in an Earth Day event in your city? Or do you prefer to appreciate the beauty of the natural world in your own private way?
Photo credit: DonkeyHotey via Flickr