Earth Day is an annual event, celebrated on April 22, on which events are held worldwide to demonstrate support for environmental protection. It was first celebrated in 1970, the anniversary of what many consider the birth of the modern environmental movement.
How did Earth Day get started?
Earth Day was started by Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin. Nelson originally tried to bring political attention to environmental issues in 1962-63, when he convinced President Kennedy to venture out on a five-day, eleven-state conservation tour. But as Nelson later said, “For many reasons the tour did not succeed in putting the issue onto the national political agenda.”
Six years later, Nelson got the idea that became Earth Day after watching anti-Vietnam War demonstrations, called “teach-ins,” which had spread to college campuses all across the nation. Nelson used the anti-war protest as a model for a large-scale grassroots protest on environmental concerns.
What was the result of the original Earth Day efforts?
Reports claim that over 20 million people participated in Earth Day 1970. That first protest led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts.
What is “Mother Earth Day”?
In 2009, the United Nations General Assembly designated April 22 as International Mother Earth Day. The resolution says that “the Earth and its ecosystems are our home” and that “it is necessary to promote harmony with nature and the Earth.” The term Mother Earth is used because it “reflects the interdependence that exists among human beings, other living species and the planet we all inhabit.” The designation “Mother Earth Day” has not yet caught on in the United States.
Other posts in this series:
Steven F. Hayward provides a thorough examination of the philosophical presuppositions underlying today's environmentalist movement and the history of policies intended to alleviate environmental challenges such as overpopulation and global warming.