Did you know that today is the 45th Earth Day? What inspired the first Earth Day? What Earth Day celebrations stand out in your memories?
The concept of Earth Day and environmental awareness precipitated from events of the late 1960’s. We were at war in Vietnam. Political activism and war protests were high. A devastating oil spill affected Santa Barbara, California. The 1970’s energy crisis was on the horizon.
Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson was inspired by these events as well as widespread ignorance and apathy. He worked to establish a day to bring attention to air and water pollution. With the support of Congressman Pete McCloskey, the two worked together to coordinate national environmental education events. The first Earth Day, April 22, 1970, was supported by 20 million Americans who engaged in pro-environment rallies, from coast to coast. Mind you, at the time, “Air pollution was accepted as the smell of prosperity” (Earth Day Network).
Due to these early efforts and focused activism, results included the creation of United States Environmental Protection Agency, and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts.
Earth Day is now celebrated globally. What will you do as a steward of our environment? What Earth will your children and future generations inherit?