Earth Day draws attention to ecological standing of planet, astronomical effects

By Emily Faerber

The world celebrated our beautiful planet Earth April 22. But how did this day come to orbit?

The idea for Earth Day developed back in 1962 when then Wisconsin Senator, Gaylord Nelson, sought to bring the state of our environment into the political realm. In fact, Senator Nelson spoke about environmental issues to a variety of audiences across America for several years, which eventually led him to the idea of “Earth Day.”

At this time, anti-Vietnam War demonstrations had spread to college campuses across the nation. Senator Nelson thought, “Why not organize a huge protest over what is happening to our environment?”

Several months later, the first ever Earth Day was held April 22, 1970. Millions of Americans took to the streets, parks and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment.

Earth Day achieved a rare political alignment, enlisting support from Republicans and Democrats, the rich and the poor, city goers and farmers, business owners and laborers. American Heritage Magazine referred to it as “one of the most remarkable happenings in the history of democracy.”

Since then, the United States Environmental Protection Agency has been created, as well as the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts. Senator Nelson was also rewarded for his efforts in protecting our environment with the Presidential Medal of Freedom – the highest honor given to civilians in the United States – in 1995.

Today, Earth Day is one of the largest secular observances in the world, celebrated by more than a billion people every year. It’s a day of action that changes human behavior and provokes policy changes.

Now, more than ever, the fight for a clean environment continues as the effects of climate change become more noticeable every day. As April 22, 2020 – the 50th anniversary of Earth Day – approaches, the Earth Day Network is following Senator Nelson’s lead and is preparing to announce an ambitious set of goals to shape the future we need.

Stay tuned, and continue to take care of our beautiful planet Earth.

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