46 years since the first Earth Day and the momentum continues to build. The movement aims to motivate people to take action against the destruction of our planet. In 1970, the very first Earth Day gave a voice to the shift in consciousness towards environmental friendliness. Groundbreaking ideas and innovative strategies have taken root, so the future looks green for our lovely planet.

The history of Earth Day

Against the backdrop of a raging war in Vietnam, the Beatles ultimate album and the death of Jimi Hendrix a counterculture was beginning to grow. While mainstream America sucked up massive quantities of gas in large V8 sedans and industry choked out toxic fumes, something special was fostering.

Rachel Carson had just published her bestseller Silent Spring in 1962, a book that sought to raise awareness and respect for living organisms and the environment. Earth Day 1970 was the beginning of a collective awakening, a move towards a higher connection with the environment. The idea came from Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, a former US Senator in response to the 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara.

On April 22 1970, 20 million Americans took to the streets to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in huge coast-to-coast rallies.  Universities got involved to protest against the deleterious treatment of the planet inflicted by big business.

In 1989 a group of environmental leaders asked Denis Hayes, coordinator of the National Teach-In on the Environment to organize another large campaign, this time Earth Day went global, mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries.

Earth Day today

Earth Day 2010 came at a time when captains of industry still deny climate change. Well-funded lobbyists and reticent politicians still seek to bury their head in the sand. Despite these powerful forces Earth Day 2010 went ahead and brought 250,000 people to the National Mall to launch the world’s largest environmental service project- A Billion  Acts of Green. This is a global tree planting initiative that grew into the Canopy Project, engaging 22,000 partners in 192 countries to observe Earth Day.

Celebrated by more than a billion people each year, it is a day to remember that we are merely visitors on this planet. Mother Nature has been around a lot longer than us and we should respect that. The future of our planet relies on us becoming more aware of how to live a sustainable life, and to remind ourselves to make the right decision.

2020 marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, so the Earth Day Network will soon announce ambitious goals for the future.

Five inspiring facts

  • One billion people will get involved with Earth Day in 2016.
  • The celebration has a flag with a picture of the Earth taken from Apollo 17.
  • 20 million people took part in the inaugural event in 1970.
  • The source of the name and original date are still unknown.
  • In 2008, Disney launched Disneynature, a channel that celebrates Earth Day.

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