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The History of Earth Day

The most helpful way to celebrate Earth Day is by committing to complete eco-friendly actions everyday of the year. Earth day is a reminder, an impetus for us to change our habits to healthier ones for each other and for the environment.

The idea of Earth Day began long before it ever received its name or shape in the mind of Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson in the early 1960s. He attempted to put concerns about the environment on the political agenda and convinced then President Robert Kennedy to travel to ten different states to discuss this as an issue. At that time, only seeds were planted. The late 1960s brought “teach-ins” for peace and it was this model that inspired Mr. Nelson to organize a similar event for environmental education.

Once he announced this mass environmental teach-in to take place on April 22, 1970, word spread and the idea grew. This event, twenty million people large in cities across the United States included rallies, demonstrations, education, and a united voice expressing concern for the environment. All events were organized at a grassroots level. There was no Twitter or Facebook at the time, so the immense number of people who organized and participated via word of mouth, newsletters, newspaper articles and phone networks is even more awe-inspiring.

This event led to the American government recognizing the need for immediate solutions through legislation. The Environmental Protection Agency was formed and the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts were all passed in the early 1970s after the first Earth Day.

For the twenty year Earth Day celebration in 1990, the event went international involving one hundred and forty countries and two hundred million people. In 1995 Mr. Nelson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for beginning such a positive world-wide movement. Earth Day 2000 increased participation around the world to hundreds of millions of people and close to two hundred countries from large cities to small villages in Africa by mobilizing efforts on the internet. The focus was not only on pollution of the air and water, deforestation and more, but also now on clean energy sources.

The last Earth Day saw phenomenal results as the Earth Day Network increased their online community to close to one million people, the discussion of global warming continued to grow, and they launched the Billion Acts of Green and one million tree planting initiatives with an aim of completion by 2012. Other initiatives and ways to get involved include helping women in emerging nations with green jobs, creating more eco-friendly schools, and involving athletes in sending out green activist messages.

To find out how you can get involved this Earth Day and everyday of the year in making the world a healthier place, check out the Earth Day Network website at www.earthday.org. Whether you want to become a full-fledged activist or learn a few green tips, the Earth Day Network will inspire you.

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This content was written by Meredith Ball. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Tracy Hamilton for details.



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