It on was this day in 1970 that Earth Day was first observed and every year since, on April 22nd, a large chunk of the world focuses on our environment, its condition, and its sustainability.
The movement started here in the United States. One of the pioneers was a Senator from Wisconsin named Gaylord Nelson. He encouraged all to help improve our environment by volunteering or changing a way of life that may be harmful to the Earth. Nelson is quoted in saying, “the wealth of the nation is its air, water, soil, forests, minerals, rivers, lakes, oceans, scenic beauty, wildlife habitats, and biodiversity… that’s all there is. That’s the whole economy.” … this was the thought process behind the now decades-long movement.
CBS News covered the very first Earth Day where in Denver, students rode bikes or walked to various locations around the city to pick up litter. In Boston, students layed in coffins to symbolize the problems with airport and airplane pollution. In New York City, volunteers cleaned up areas around 5th avenue for an Earth Day rally. Thousands demonstrated in Chicago and Los Angeles.
The message they wanted to send was loud and clear… to protect, enrich, and sustain our Earth.
These demonstrations sent a shockwave through our government quickly. That same year as the first Earth Day, President Richard Nixon proposed the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency. A government agency created to develop and maintain standards for our environment.
In 1990, Earth Day went global with over 120 countries lifting environmental issues to the world stage. This new effort brought recycling around the globe and in 1992, helped pave the way for the United Nations Earth Summit in Rio De Janeiro. Today marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day with now over one 190 countries and over a billion people recognizing this day with volunteerism and civic engagement.
There are several businesses marking this day as well. Apple has released a video about Earth Day, Best Buy is even selling products to support sustainable living and NASA has released several online educational activities they’ve branded #EarthDayAtHome.
Here’s the link to NASA’s Earth Day education: https://www.nasa.gov/content/earth-day-2020-50th-anniversary-toolkit
If you’re wondering why April 22nd was picked as the date for Earth Day, it was strategic to increase student engagement. April 22nd wouldn’t interfere with either Spring Break or Finals.