Apr 22, 2015: Earth Day is an annual event, celebrated on April 22, on which day events worldwide are held to demonstrate support for environmental protection. It was first celebrated in 1970, and is now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network, celebrated in more than 192 countries each year.
History: On April 22, 1970, the Environmental Teach-In held a nationwide day of environmental education and activism that it called Earth Day. The event was inspired and organized by environmental activist and U.S. Sen. Gaylord Nelson from Wisconsin. Nelson wanted to show other U.S. politicians that there was widespread public support for a political agenda centered on environmental issues.
Nelson began organizing the event from his Senate office, assigning two staff members to work on it, but soon more space and more people were needed. John Gardner, founder of Common Cause, donated office space. Nelson selected Denis Hayes, a Harvard University student, to coordinate Earth Day activities and gave him a staff of volunteer college students to help.The event was wildly successful, sparking Earth Day celebrations at thousands of colleges, universities, schools and communities all across the United States. An October 1993 article in American Heritage Magazine proclaimed, “…April 22, 1970, Earth Day was…one of the most remarkable happenings in the history of democracy… 20 million people demonstrated their support… American politics and public policy would never be the same again.”
Following the Earth Day celebration inspired by Nelson, which demonstrated widespread grassroots support for environmental legislation, Congress passed many important environmental laws, including the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, as well as laws to protect wilderness areas. The Environmental Protection Agency was created within three years after Earth Day 1970.In 1995, Nelson received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Bill Clinton for his role in founding Earth Day, raising awareness of environmental issues, and promoting environmental action.
Importance: No matter when you celebrate Earth Day, its message about the personal responsibility we all share to “think globally and act locally” as environmental stewards of planet Earth has never been more timely or important.Our planet is in crisis due to global warming, overpopulation, and other critical environmental issues. Every person on Earth shares the responsibility to do as much as they can to preserve the planet’s finite natural resources today and for future generations.