Earth Day is a celebration of our planet as well as a way to raise awareness about pressing issues like climate change. This combination of activism and appreciation is what makes Earth Day unique. Earth Day brings together millions of people across dozens of countries to "take time to appreciate humankind's connection to the Earth and to raise awareness of our environmental challenges”. In this article, we’ll look at the founding of Earth Day, its evolution through the years, as well as how you can contribute to this year’s movement.
Earth Day was created in 1970 by Senator Gaylord Nelson and the activist Denis Hayes. Hayes and Nelson wanted Earth Day to be a nationwide “teach-in” to promote environmental activism and to raise awareness about environmental issues. This initial concept of Earth Day was highly successful with over 20 million people pouring to the streets in the U.S alone. Key non-environmental organizations contributed to the success of Earth Day with the United Auto Workers labor union being an “instrumental financial and organizational supporter of the first Earth Day”. This concept of non-environmental organizations coming together to support the preservation of the environment remains an extremely important aspect of modern Earth Days.
Earth Day became an international celebration of the environment in 1990 when Denis Hayes, one of the original creators of Earth Day, took it internationally and organized Earth Day-related events in over 140 nations. From 1990 onwards, Earth Day, which started as a grassroots movement in the U.S, grew to capture the attention of activists, politicians, and companies around the world.
Earth Day 2016 was special as it marked the landmark signing of the Paris Agreement by the United States, China, and over 120 other countries. The signing of this unilateral treaty to combat climate change was a huge step forward in terms of creating a sustainable future and limiting human impacts on the environment. Earth Day 2020, the 50th anniversary, saw over 100 million people celebrate Earth Day “in what is being referred to as the largest online mass mobilization in history”. Clearly, Earth Day has come a long way from its inception in 1970, and it is a movement that will only gain momentum in the years to come.
While there are many ways you can celebrate Earth Day, the majority of them focus on raising awareness in the community about environmental concerns and how everybody can do their part to reduce things like pollution. There are also a variety of Earth Day-focused seminars, activities, and fundraisers that one can participate in. Here are some of our favorite Earth Day events:
We’ll leave you off with a short video about the initial creation of Earth Day to show how far the movement has come in the last 50 years:
Ultimately, Earth Day is what you make of it. Whether it be planting new trees in your local park, donating to Environmental Protection Agencies, or simply taking a walk along the beach and enjoying the beauty of nature, celebrating Earth Day can be whatever you want it to be.
Shang is a current undergraduate at UC Berkeley studying Economics and Data Science. His hobbies include cooking, hiking, and playing video games. Send him new article recommendations or suggestions at email@example.com