– 51 Year History –
Earth Day is the largest civic observance participated by more than 1 billion people. Earth Day has been celebrated for over 50 years and although it began as an environmental day of awareness, it has turned into educating the population to save our planet.
The first Earth Day began in 1970 with a topic concern about industrial air pollution. Automobiles were less then efficient, passing large amounts of leaded gas into the atmosphere. Industries continued to pipe smoke into the sky without any thought about any damage that might be occurring.
Earth day was inspired by Senator Gaylord Nelson, a young politician with a passion for the environment, who wanted to get students involved in learning about the air and water pollution problem. He recruited help from his peers as well as a young activist named Denis Hayes. The goal was to unite students at a “teach-in” at college campuses. The date April 22 made sense to them because it was a weekday in between spring break and the start of final exams. This ensured an opportunity to gravitate the largest amount of students to participate in the first Earth Day.
April 22 continued to be observed. By 1990, just twenty years after the inception of Earth Day, the civic minded observance led once again by Denis Hayes who was contacted to lead the awareness by a group of environmentalist leaders. This event went global with 141 countries involved and 200 million people. This world event highlighted the need for recycling. This opened the doors for the United Nations Earth Summit in 1992. It was at that time when Senator Nelson received the Presidential Medal of Freedom for founding Earth Day.
By the time the new millennium arrived the focus was turned to global warming as well as the continued message regarding the importance of recycling. Efforts continue for climate change on a global scale.
“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference and you have to decide what kind of a difference you want to make.”
Addressing the world’s pollution problem has been a continuous effort. The message is clear, there is no alternative except to do your part. Join Earth Day 2021, with the theme of “Restore Our Earth”. Leaders from all over the world will meet to discuss green technologies and new ideas for restoring ecosystems. There is no action to participate that is too small.