‘It was a gamble, but it worked’ recalls Gaylord Nelson, founder of International Earth Day. This week, we celebrate another International Earth Day and bring you all the info on the date and what you can do.
The 22nd April marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement, founded in 1970. In a time of leaded gas, V8 Sedans and the war in Vietnam, prosperity did not factor in pollution, rather it focused on the sight of new builds, oil drills, and cheap fuel. Rachel Carson’s documentation of the detrimental effects of pesticides on the environment was the first of its kind in outrightly stating mankind’s impact on the environment. From thereon in a serious of avoidable events catalysed U.S Senator Gaylord Nelson to organise the first Earth Day, an action that gave a voice to the emerging environmentalist consciousness. After witnessing the ravages of an oil spill in Santa Monica, Nelson wanted to put environmental protection on the American political agenda.
On the 22nd April 1970, 20 million Americans demonstrated together for a healthy, sustainable environment in nationwide rallies. A rare political alignment from the Republicans and Democrats only served to reinforce the case: environmental protection is a state responsibility. By the end of the year, three acts had been passed protecting Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species as well as the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
In April 1990, Earth day went global; 200 million people in 141 countries took the environmental issues to a world stage, concentrating on worldwide recycling efforts and leading to the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. The movement has since only continued to gain momentum.
This Earth Day, we challenge you to make a change. Turn the lights out when you leave the room, save your leftovers, recycle your papers, cans and glass: make a small change this April and help save the planet.
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