Everyone has probably heard of Earth Day, but what does it mean and where did it come from?
Earth Day is an event held every April 22nd around the world and is used to educate people about the earth and the environment. Gatherings around the world take place and include speeches, rallies, education, and political and environmental activism. Earth Day was a reaction to worries about the climate and pollution. But it takes looking back in history to see why Earth Day became necessary.
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The Large and in Charge 1970s
Now fast forward to the 1970s. The United States was a manufacturing giant and Detroit was at the center of it all. The largest automobile manufacturers in the world were in Detroit and they were cranking out massive vehicles.
These vehicles along with the factories and manufacturing plants around the US were contributing to air and other forms of pollution. Those familiar smog clouds could be seen in major cities across the US. Because of all this, people begin to think that maybe the earth was vulnerable to the mechanizations of man and that all that smog and pollution probably wasn’t good for people either.
The Silent Spring
Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring was published in 1962 and linked pollution to problems with drinking water and overall public health. That coupled with oil spills and an increasing reliance on large gas-guzzling automobiles started people questioning the fate of the earth.
Senator Gaylord Nelson, from Wisconsin along with Pete McCloskey, a Republican Congressman came up with the idea of teaching about the environment on college campuses. They got Denis Hayes, an activist to help organize the effort and decided on April 22nd as the day it would take place. They decided to call it Earth Day.
Earth Day is Born
Earth day gave a voice to a variety of environmental activists who were fighting everything from oil spills to the loss of habitat and wildlife. From this upswelling of support came increased awareness and also political backing. This combination brought about not only changes in the way people thought about the earth but ushered in political changes as well.
In 1970 the United States Environmental Protection Agency was formed and would serve as the watchdog for generations to come against companies that polluted or didn’t follow established environmental laws. The Clean Air and Water Acts would follow as well as the Endangered Species Act along with many others. The humble little day in April became a rallying cry for environmentalists around the country.
From the US to the World
After frequent environmental successes in the United States, the world began to take notice. In fact, Earth Day spread to over 190+ countries and is acknowledged by one billion people around the world. It has led to a worldwide gathering, environmental laws, and an increase in everything from recycling programs to emission reduction plans. Earth Day continues to be celebrated around the globe and has ushered in not only an awareness of environmental issues but has brought about significant change
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