Earth Laughs in Flowers
By Kaya Diebes
How Earth Day started:
1970, a year that was booming with industry while a war raged on in Vietnam which students nationwide were overwhelmingly opposing. With a strong industry comes air pollution; air pollution was becoming the smell of success. Not only was air pollution becoming an accepted status, but the word “environment” was more likely to appear in a spelling bee than in the news headlines. Earth Day 1970 gave way to a new voice that was channeling the energy of the anti-war protest movement and putting environmental issues on the front page.
The idea for the first Earth Day came from Gaylord Nelson, who was then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, who has witnessed the oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. He was inspired by the anti-war protest movement and realized that he could infuse that energy with the emerging consciousness of air and water pollution to further develop environmental protection into the national agenda. The idea gained more and more support from a congressman and a national coordinator at Harvard, further promoting the event across the United States. April 22 was selected as the date seeing as how it fell between spring break and final exams.
On April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans went to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to rally for a healthy and sustainable environment in a massive coast-to-coast rally. Thousands of colleges and universities came together to protest against the deterioration of the environment. People realized that they shared some common ideals regarding the environment.
By the end of 1970, the first Earth Day had led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency. It also gave way to passage of Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts. As Gaylord Nelson said, “It was a gamble, but it worked.”
As 1990 approached, a group of environmental leaders asked Denis Hayes, the national coordinator from Harvard, to launch another big campaign. This led to Earth Day going global. 200 million people in 141 countries fought to lift environmental issues onto the world stage. The Earth Day of 1990 led the way to the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. It also prompted President Bill Clinton to award Senator Nelson with the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1995) for his role as Earth Day founder.
Whether it’s walking to school twice a week, turning off the faucet while you’re brushing your teeth, or using reusable items, every little thing helps keep the Earth clean.
Earth Day events throughout the world:
The United States and elsewhere - The United States has Earth Day celebrations across the country, but the March for Science in Washington D.C. will be the most prominent one. 425 other locations across the world are also taking part in the March for Science.
London, U.K. - The Empower Earth Day Celebration will raise funds for British charities and groups fighting climate change. There Earth Day event features environmental speakers, dance, yoga, shamans, and a vegan cafe.
Tokyo, Japan - The Earth Day Tokyo event is a two-day celebration that takes place in Yoyogi Park. Around 100,000 visitors are expected to attend and take part in family activities and learn about businesses that take part in methods that promote environmental protection.
Lanjaron, Spain - The Global Unity and Regeneration Gathering, a 24-hour event, features presentations and workshops on environmentalism, healing and awakening.