Wisconsin’s Senator Gaylord Nelson, founder of Earth Day, organized the first event on April 22, 1970. He chose that date, falling between Spring Break and Final Exams on college campuses, to maximize student participation. Senator Nelson wanted to use the energy of students to increase public consciousness about air and water pollution. The first Earth Day inspired 20 million Americans, 10% of the total US Population, to take to the streets, parks and auditoriums to protest against the deteriorating environment. The first Earth Day led to the creation of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and two years later, the Clean Air Act plus other environmental laws.
In 1990, Earth Day went global, mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries placing environmental issues on the world stage. In 2000, 5,000 environmental groups in 184 countries organized groups of activists around the world. Citizens around the world wanted quick, decisive actions on global warming and clean energy. Earth Day is a day of action to change human behavior and create local, national and global changes. The fight for a cleaner environment continues to become more urgent as the effects of climate change become more apparent every day.
The 2021 Earth Day theme is “Restore Our Earth” and focuses on natural processes, emerging technologies and innovative thinking to restore the world’s ecosystems. The challenge is for each of us to restore our earth not just because we care about the natural world, but because we live on it. We need a healthy earth to support our livelihoods, health, survival and happiness.
Visit earthday.org to learn more about Education & Science, Personal & Civic Action and Conservation & Restoration. Each section contains a wealth of information and exciting opportunities to improve the world we live in. From earthday.org: “A healthy planet is not an option – it is a necessity.”
Consider attending our National Garden Clubs, Inc. Environmental Schools, many in a virtual format. See listings on the NGC Website. It is an easy opportunity to increase your awareness about environmental issues in the United States and around the world - taking care of our earth starts in your backyard!