We’re so excited here at IRE that Earth Day just happens to fall on Wednesday Blog Day! It’s kismet or karma or maybe just a really happy accident. In any case, we’re thrilled we get to talk about it. Let’s go back to basics, what is Earth Day and how did it get started? The history of Earth Day is more based on a movement than actual event. Back in the early 1970’s protesting of all sorts was a sign of the times, but saving the planet was not the cause. The major protest was of course war and if you were not opposing the war you were opposing the hippies that were. Americans were slurping leaded gas through massive V8 sedans and industry belched out smoke and sludge with little fear of legal consequences or bad press. Air pollution was commonly accepted with the word “Environment” being more of a spelling bee word than a cause found on the evening news. Although mainstream America remained oblivious to environmental concerns, the stage had been set for change by the publication of Rachel Carson’s New York Times bestseller Silent Spring in 1962. Ms. Carson raised public awareness and concern for living organisms, the environment and public health and for this, we thank her. April 22, Earth Day 1970 capitalized on the emerging consciousness, channeling the energy of the anti-war protest movement and putting environmental concerns front and center.
Gaylord Nelson, the founding father of Earth Day, came up with the idea after witnessing the destruction of a massive oil spill in Santa Barbara California. Mr. Nelson was, at the time a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, and was inspired by the student anti-war movement. He realized that if he could infuse that energy with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution, it would force environmental protection onto the national political agenda. Senator Nelson announced the idea for a “national teach-in on the environment” to the national media. With some political finessing and instilling the help of Pete McCloskey, a conservation-minded Republican Congressman, to serve as his co-chair. Senator Nelson then recruited Denis Hayes as national coordinator. Hayes built a national staff of 85 to promote events across the land. As a result, on the 22nd of April, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment. Groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values. Earth Day was born.
Earth Day Today….
In 1990 Earth Day went global, mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries and lifting environmental issues onto the world stage. Earth Day 1990 gave a huge boost to recycling efforts worldwide and helped pave the way for the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. As Earth Day has evolved and grown through the years, Earth Day 2000 combined the big-picture feistiness of the first Earth Day with the international grassroots activism of Earth Day 1990. Earth Day 2000 sent world leaders the loud and clear message that citizens around the world wanted quick and decisive action on clean energy. <— we love this part! We are still recognizing the 2012 Earth Day goal of A Billion Acts of Green®. Striving for an initiative for planting 1-million trees around the world. Happily, this goal was realized in late 2013.
The fight for a clean environment continues in a climate of increasing urgency, as the ravages of climate change become more manifest every day. We invite you to be a part of Earth Day and help write many more victories and successes into our history. Discover energy you didn’t even know you had. Feel it rumble through the grassroots under your feet and the technology at your fingertips. Channel it into building a clean, healthy, diverse world for generations to come. It doesn’t take much to help or do your part. Recycle, renew, reuse! Let’s be intentional about reducing our carbon footprint, lessening our dependence on fossil fuels and implementing renewable sources of energy as often as possible. Happy Earth Day, everyone. Now, go plant a tree!
We like to thank our friends at the Earth Day Network for some facts on Earth Day for our blog today.