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26 May 2023
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Earth Day


THE FIRST EARTH DAY

The birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970 is commemorated every year on April 22 through Earth Day. This has led to half a century of mobilization for action, which we can now reflect upon.

ORIGINS OF EARTH DAY

Prior to the first Earth Day, Americans were consuming massive amounts of leaded gas through inefficient automobiles while industries released smoke and sludge without concern for the consequences of either the law or negative publicity. The smell of prosperity was associated with air pollution, and mainstream America was largely unaware of the environmental issues and the potential risks to human health.
However, the publication of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring in 1962 marked a turning point, selling over 500,000 copies in 24 countries and raising public awareness and concern for living organisms, the environment, and the undeniable links between pollution and public health. This was a significant moment in history that set the stage for change.

THE IDEA FOR THE FIRST EARTH DAY

Earth Day was founded in 1970 as a national teach-in on college campuses to raise awareness about environmental issues. It quickly gained national attention, with 20 million Americans participating in events. It led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and several key environmental laws that have had a significant impact on protecting human health and the environment.

1990: EARTH DAY GOES GLOBAL

In anticipation of 1990, a team of environmental leaders approached Denis Hayes, an activist, to lead a campaign for the planet. The Earth Day celebration expanded globally, involving 200 million people across 141 countries and drawing attention to environmental issues worldwide. Earth Day 1990 was instrumental in advancing recycling efforts worldwide and paved the way for the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. 

EARTH DAY 2000

Approaching the new millennium, Denis Hayes took charge of another campaign that focused on global warming and promoting clean energy. Earth Day 2000 involved 5,000 environmental organizations from a record 184 countries and engaged millions of people in global and local conversations. The internet was leveraged to organize activists worldwide, while a drum chain made its way from village to village in Gabon, Africa. Additionally, hundreds of thousands of people gathered for a First Amendment Rally on the National Mall in Washington, DC. Earth Day 2000 was a clear message to world leaders that people across the globe demanded swift and decisive action on global warming and clean energy.

EARTH DAY 2010

Like in 1970, Earth Day 2010 faced significant obstacles, such as climate change deniers, oil lobbyists, indifferent politicians, and a divided environmental community. However, EARTHDAY.ORG succeeded in reestablishing Earth Day as a powerful moment for global environmental activism, rallying millions of people worldwide to engage in civic and volunteer activities. Today, Earth Day continues to inspire more than 1 billion people every year across 193 countries to protect our planet.

EARTH DAY TODAY

Today, Earth Day is widely known as the world's largest secular event, celebrated by over a billion people annually as a day to take action towards changing human behavior and implementing policy changes on a global, national, and local scale. The urgency to fight for a cleaner environment has intensified as the effects of climate change become more apparent every day. With the growing awareness of our climate crisis, civil society mobilization is at an all-time high worldwide. Frustrated with international environmental inaction, citizens worldwide are demanding greater action for the planet and its people.

On Earth Day, we can…

There are many ways we can take action to protect the environment and combat climate change. One important step is to push for climate literacy, promoting education and awareness about the causes and impacts of global warming. Another impactful action is to grow trees, which absorb carbon dioxide and help mitigate the effects of climate change. We can also support sustainable fashion, which promotes eco-friendly and ethical production practices. Additionally, helping to end plastic pollution by reducing our use of single-use plastics and attending cleanups can make a significant difference in preserving our planet for future generations. No matter how small or large our actions, we can all contribute to building a more sustainable and livable world.
 

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