The Evolution of Earth Day

Each year, April 22 marks Earth Day. The annual day of celebration originated in 1970 in the US, but since 1990 Earth Day has been celebrated worldwide. Here are some brief but key facts about the history of Earth Day as well as some other interesting things to know about its evolution.

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1. First Earth Day

Gaylord Nelson founded Earth Day while he was working as a US senator. Nelson was deeply concerned over a lack of interest for environmental issues among priorities within politics. His nationwide grassroots efforts in the spring of 1970 helped promote conservation involvement and awareness, and those demonstrations led to what later become known as the first official Earth Day. More than 20 million Americans participated in this first Earth Day celebration. Nelson was later awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom Award in recognition of his work..

2. Earth Day inspires future progress

The first Earth Day helped inspire the United States Environmental Protection Agency as well as the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species acts.

3. Earth Day to symbolize new beginnings

In 1969, peace activist John McConnell proposed a day to honor both the Earth and the concept of peace around the globe. He chose March 21, 1970, the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere, as the day of celebration. Like all seasons, spring signifies meaningful transition, yet what sets it apart is its representation of renewal and new beginnings. This is one of the main reasons the date was chosen for the original Earth Day.

4. Not your mother’s Earth Day

Today, more than 1 billion people participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it one of the largest movements to take place around the globe. Earth Day Network, the organization credited with building significant support for the Earth Day movement, works with more than 22,000 partners in more than 192 countries worldwide to raise insight for environmental concerns.

5. Bet you didn’t know…

  • On Earth Day in 2009, the Disneynature film company released a documentary film called Earth which follows the migration paths of four animal families.
  • On Earth Day 2012, more than 100,000 people rode bikes in China to reduce CO2 emissions and save fuel.
  • In some elementary schools all over the world, Earth Day is the third largest holiday celebrated (after Halloween and Christmas).
  • In an Earth Day celebration in 2011, 28 million trees were planted in Afghanistan by the Earth Day Network.

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