Earth Day: From Grassroots Campaign to Global Phenomenon

Earth Day began as a small movement that grew into a worldwide campaign for a greener, cleaner environment for all living organisms.

How much do you know about Earth Day? Check out some facts below.

  • Earth Day began April 22, 1970.
  • Earth Day is commonly known as the "modern environmental movement."
  • Founder: Gaylord Nelson, former U.S. Senator of Wisconsin.
  • Nelson took action after witnessing the extensive damage caused by the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California.
  • Earth Day was inspired by the student anti-war movement.
  • Nelson, along with Pete McCloskey, a Republican congressman, as his co-chair and Denis Hayes as national coordinator, built a national staff of 85 to promote rallies and events across the U.S. to raise public awareness for the environment and public health.
  • On the first Earth Day 20 million Americans took to the streets and parks to protest for a cleaner, more sustainable, healthy environment.
  • Thousands of colleges across the U.S. organized protests to fight against oil spills, pollution from factories, vehicles and power plants, toxic dumps, raw sewage and the extinction of wildlife.
  • The Earth Day movement caused all types of people—including Republicans, Democrats, upper and working classes—to come together to support a greener planet.
  • The first Earth Day rally sparked the birth of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species acts.
  • Hayes organized a second worldwide campaign in 1990, which included 200 million people in 141 countries.
  • Hayes's second campaign inspired recycling worldwide and paved the way for the United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.
  • Earth Day 2000 was another huge, worldwide campaign that focused on global warming and clean energy. Participants included 5,000 environmental groups in 184 countries. Hundreds of thousands of people gathered at the National Mall in Washington, DC, to show their support.
  • Earth Day 2010—the 40th anniversary—brought 225,000 people to the National Mall for a Climate Rally and began a worldwide program—A Billion Acts of Green, which is the largest environmental service campaign in the world.
  • The 2010 celebration also launched an international program to plant 1 million trees, partnering with James Cameron, director of Avatar.
  • Since 2010, Earth Day Network's online base rose to over 900,000 members.
  • So far, Earth Day has inspired over 800 million worldwide "acts of green," pledges which aim to promote sustainability and reduce mankind's overall carbon footprint.
  • More than 1 billion people participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the "largest civic observance" in the world.

Source: Earth Day Network

For a list of Earth Day related events and activities, go here.

Walden Macnair April 12, 2012 at 12:58 PM
Bob, this isn't a case of chicken little saying the sky is falling. Look at what's going on. The sea level has risen, the glaciers are receeding, animals are altering their migration patterns and we're geting more and more severe weather. The sun hasn't gotten any bigger or hotter or closer so that's really not a factor. Yes there are more solar flares this year but they don't have an effect on temperature. Yes living things produce CO2 and in the natural cycle of the earth that CO2 is taken in by plants and Oxygen is returned to the atmosphere. Instead we are producing more and more CO2 in unatural ways and chopping down more and more trees to convert jungles and forests into cities, towns and the occasional lawn furniture. Some day man will no longer be on this planet and the earth will move on to its next phase in evolution but for the moment we are the stewards of the earth and have a moral responsibility to take care of it as best we can. Finally, even if your theory that man has nothing to do with climate change is correct, you must admit that climate change will affect man so why not improve conditions now instead of waiting for the inevitable?
Mary April 12, 2012 at 02:02 PM
Do you really need an "Earth Day" to teach your daughter about protecting the environment? That is something I do with my kids on a daily basis. When we go for a walk around the neighborhood, we carry a garbage bag to pick up the litter around our neighborhood. We also rescue earthworms, use a composting bin and rain barrels in our garden and recycle whatever we can. I don't need a day sponsored by the government to learn how to do the right thing.
Bruce June 20, 2012 at 02:31 AM
so many people so many opinions... I'd urge Issy to read Scientific American and learn some bigger Facts!
Bruce June 20, 2012 at 02:40 AM
BTW Issy, Cows produce more CO2 than humans... Temperature change is a natural occurrence here on Earth. There have been numerous hot times and numerous Ice Ages... Should we pollute less; of course yes. Should we all be vegan; I don't think so. should we ride bicycles more than relying on cars, sure. Can we deliver furniture by Bicycle, not on my back... There are varying degrees of everything. You should go into CO2 reclamation; God knows the soda industry needs all it can get to sell you Bubbly High Fructose Corn Syrup water to keep the undertakers busy and the dentists going on vacation to aid world travel industry alive and prospering... ;))
Issy June 20, 2012 at 10:03 AM
Bruce, We are fortunate to have one world's top climate research facilities in our area, I would suggest you log into their website instead of sprouting nonsense. http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/ Could you link me to a article in Scientific America (or any science journal) that says man is not causing global warming. FYI Cows do not produce more C02 than humans this is just ignorant meaningless rhetoric the flat-earthers like to spout. The actual FACT is that the farming of animals which includes deforestation, creating feed and fertilizers etc does. Please stick to the facts rather than making your own up and then maybe, just maybe, we can work together to solve climate change.


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