How did Earth Day Start?

It all began in the 1960s

How did Earth Day start? It all began in the 1960s. Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” was published in 1962 and sold over 500,00 copies. This book began to raise public awareness of environmental concerns.

The first Earth Day was April 22, 1970

Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin felt that this country needed to take better care of our environment and he personally led the drive to create Earth Day.  He was motivated by some major environmental disasters, including a massive oil spill off Santa Barbara CA in 1969.   The concept for Earth Day was a national “teach in” to help educate the public about air and water pollution. 

The first Earth Day was April 22, 1970.  This was a rare event that was supported by both Repulicans and Democrats.  Earth Day led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency later that year.

Approximately 20 milion people across the country attended the first Earth Day celebrations and this eventually led to the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and also the Endangered Species Act.  On the 20th anniversary in 1990, people in 141 countries joined in celebrations.

For Earth Day 2000, the internet and social media were used to organize people around the world. Sadly – by 2010 climate change deniers and industry lobbyists were creating challenges to environmental progress. 

Today Earth Day is the largest secular observance anywhere and is still a day of action to change policy and increase environment protection. 2020 will mark the 50th anniversary.


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