On April 22, 1970, the idea came to Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. 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; persuaded Pete McCloskey, a conservation-minded Republican Congressman, to serve as his co-chair; and 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 1970 achieved a rare political alignment, enlisting support from Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, city slickers and farmers, tycoons and labor leaders. The first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts. "It was a gamble," Gaylord recalled, "but it worked."
Why do we care about Earth Day – What are we doing?
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Why should you care about Earth Day?
Forty years later, April 22 continues to unite those who believe in caring for our world and the people who depend on it. Approximately 200 countries and around 1 billion students, activists, soccer moms and working folks will celebrate this year.
Earth Day is the day you show how much you appreciate mother Earth by "Going Green". That includes: Recycling, Reusing, Reducing the uses of some things [such as electricity] and more.
It is important we celebrate Earth Day because on that day people take extra good care of the earth. It also creates more awareness to our community about caring for the earth.
Know the facts!
Here are a few reasons you should play a role in helping the fight against pollution and why Earth Day should be a day you want to celebrate:
- Pollution is one of the biggest global killers, affecting over 100 million people. That’s comparable to global diseases like malaria and HIV.
- According to a 2012 study from Unicef, 2,200 children die every day as a result of dirty drinking water.
- 14 billion pounds of garbage are dumped into the ocean every year. Most of it is plastic.
- Over 1 million seabirds and 100,000 sea mammals are killed by pollution every year.
- People who live in places with high levels of air pollutants have a 20% higher risk of death from lung cancer than people who live in less-polluted areas.
- The Mississippi River carries an estimated 1.5 million metric tons of nitrogen pollution into the Gulf of Mexico each year, creating a “dead zone” in the Gulf each summer about the size of New Jersey.
- Approximately 40% of the lakes in America are too polluted for fishing, aquatic life, or swimming.
- Americans make up an estimated 5% of the world’s population. However, the U.S. produces an estimated 30% of the world’s waste and uses 25% of the world’s resources.
- Each year 1.2 trillion gallons of untreated sewage, storm water, and industrial waste are dumped into U.S. water.
- While children make up 10% of the world’s population, over 40% of the global burden of disease falls on them. More than 3 million children under age five die annually from environmental factors.
- Recycling and composting prevented 85 million tons of material away from being disposed of in 2010, up from 18 million tons in 1980.
It’s no laughing matter…
Medical research is now linking air pollution to 1 in 8 deaths. According to a new report by the World Health Organization, air pollution is the cause of 7 million deaths a year worldwide, and is the single largest environmental health risk in the world today.
So what are you going to do to start making a difference in and on our planet?
For starters, check out how you can make a change by visiting: