Did you know that Earth Day was started right in the United States by a US Senator from Wisconsin named Gaylord Nelson? Having witnessed oil spills and environmental degradation, he used the anti-war movement started by students to join social and environmental consciousness. He enlisted the help of Pete McCloskey (Republican Congressman) and Denis Hayes (Harvard Professor), two very smart guys who were also very different.
On April 22, 1970, the first Earth Day, 20 million Americans joined in events across the country to show their support for a healthy, sustainable environment. Earth Day brought together individual 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. By the end of the year the Environmental Protection Agency was born and with that, the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act. These three pieces of legislation are the cornerstones to environmental protections in the Untied States today.
Twenty years later, in 1990, Earth Day expanded globally to include environmental actions in 141 countries. The 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro was a product of this global awareness. Also then president Bill Clinton awarded Senator Nelson, remember him, the Presidential Medal of Freedom — the highest honor given to civilians in the United States — for his role as Earth Day founder.
Since then and continuing into the future, Earth Day provides citizens, just like you, a forum to voice their concerns about environmental issues like reducing waste, global warming and clean energy. Earth Day is not just a call to world leaders, it is a call to all the inhabitants of the planet, to change their behavior and provoke policy changes. It provides the means for everyone to have power over their own environment. How can you make a environmentally sustainable change – no matter how big or small. Will you make Earth Day happen every day? Join us and learn how.