Earth Day is celebrated annually on 22nd April, to demonstrate and show support for environmental protection worldwide. It was first celebrated in 1970, so this year marks its 49th anniversary!
THE HISTORY OF EARTH DAY
Let us set the scene… It is the year 1970, Concord makes its first supersonic flight, 100,000 people demonstrate in Washington DC against the Vietnam War, the US and UK lower the voting age to 18, the Beatles release their last album, and Earth Day is launched.
Whilst many people remained oblivious to environmental issues, the idea behind Earth Day came to its founder, Gaylord Nelson, in 1969 after a major oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. A U.S. Senator back then, Nelson was inspired by the student anti-war movement and realised that he could instil this energy in an emerging conscious community. With the aim of making it a national day, he brought environmentalism into the public eye by announcing the idea to the national media.
On April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans took to the streets to demonstrate for a sustainable future. By various groups joining forces, everyone realised that they shared common values and views, a rare political alignment. In response to this incredible show of support, by the end of that year the United States Environmental Protection Agency was created, alongside the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts. What a result!
By 1990, Earth Day went global, inspiring over 200 million people across the world. It helped to pave the way for the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, and Gaylord Nelson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Bill Clinton in 1995 for his role as Earth Day Founder. It is the highest honour given to civilians in the US!
2010 proved a difficult year with a mix of oil lobbyists, climate change deniers and a divided environmental community, but Earth Day continued, supported by the Earth Day Network. Persevering, the Earth Day Network launched the world’s largest environmental service project – A Billion Acts of Green®, launched a global tree planting initiative, which has grown into The Canopy Project, and formed 75,000 partners in 192 countries who observed Earth Day.