The History of Earth Day

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Nala Wilson

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The History of Earth Day

Every year, a celebration and a call of awareness for the Earth is held. April 22nd is considered annual Earth Day.

In the year of 1970, Earth Day was created by United States Senator Gaylord Nelson and was inspired by Rachel Carson’s 1962 bestseller “Silent Spring” that spoke of the dangerous effects of pesticides and such. This sparked the conversation of air pollution, the hazards of chemical wastes, and more.  Senator Nelson’s goal was to shed light on the problems of the the world’s health and to hopefully add these concerns to the national political agenda.

Before Senator Nelson made it his mission to convince the world that the planet Earth is at risk, only a small portion of American citizens recycled and many were ignorant to the harm that was being caused on the daily from factories, machines, chemicals, etc.

The creation of many more environmental-friendly laws and companies helped with this day of awareness. The Environmental Protection Agency (or the EPA), as well as acts such as the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Air Act of 1970 and the Clean Water Act of 1972 served very important roles to help promote the ideals of Democratic Senator Nelson.

On April 22, 1970, rallies were held nationwide in some of the country’s biggest cities: Chicago, Illinois, NYC, New York, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Los Angeles, California, etc. Famous actors and actresses were present at these rallies, along with highly political figures. It was estimated that 20 million Americans participated in the first Earth Day from coast to coast. Activist groups were more than excited to finally have a proper outlet and have more attention. At the same time, colleges and universities eagerly organized protests in light of Earth Day.

Earth Day was used as an outlet in the midst of many different things going on. It was a huge outlet for the energy of the anti-war protest movement (towards Vietnam) and it put environmental concerns first.

Earth day is celebrated many different ways and in 1990, it went global — worldwide. Statistics from Earth Day Network (EDN), a nonprofit organization that coordinates Earth Day activities, show that about 200 million people in over 140 different nations participated. In some countries, Earth Day is celebrated through national walks or gatherings, while in some other nations, the celebrations are much more culturally based.

If you ever want to help the Earth or at least help raise awareness, there are many different ways to do so. Instead of driving, you can carpool, ride a bike, or even walk. You can plant trees, recycle, change your mail to online mail instead of paper mail, start a garden, clean your local community, and so much more. Every little act of conservation really does help in the long run, so encourage your friends and neighbors to participate along with you!

Today, it is approximated that more than 1 billion people typically get involved within Earth Day activities, making Earth Day the largest civic event in the entire world.

“The History of Earth Day.” Earth Day Network, www.earthday.org/about/the-history-of-earth-day/.
“EPA History: Earth Day.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, 23 Apr. 2018, www.epa.gov/history/epa-history-earth-day.
History.com Staff. “Earth Day 2018.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 2009, www.history.com/topics/holidays/earth-day.

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