European Wilderness Society

Why do we celebrate Earth Day?

Exactly on this day, April 22 1970, 20 million people came out on the streets all over the United States (US). The aim behind such action was to raise the awareness about the environmental degradation that our planet faces. Today, we celebrate this event globally and we call it the Earth Day.

What has lead us to the Earth Day?

1962: book written by Rachel Carson called Silent Spring was published. In this work, Carson described the effects that the pesticide DDT (dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane) had on nature. The author specifically suggested how DDT kills hundreds of different kinds of insects and, consequently, the animals that end up consuming such insects.

1968: William Anders took a famous photograph, Earthrise, that was published by NASA. For the first time in history people got the idea about how the planet they live in actually looks like. As a result, environmental consciousness in the society continued to grow.

1969: a terrifying event occurred around the Santa Barbara County coast, US. At least 3 million gallons of crude oil were spilled into the ocean. This, as a result, has killed over ten thousand birds, fish and sea mammals.

Also in 1969: the Cuyahoga River (most polluted river at that time) located in Cleveland, US, was found on fire. Floating pieces of oil were igniting from sparks caused by a passing train. Although similar events had happened before, this time the society demanded real action. As a result, the National Environment Policy Act (NEPA) was signed into the US law the following year. It is worth noting, that it was NEPA that has then established the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Since early 1970, the latter has effectively protected both human and environmental health in the US.

A collective effort for a better planet

Besides the mentioned events, the 1960s in the US in general were filled with numerous protests related to the environmental protection. Most of them were run against the polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, freeways, as well as against the overall loss of Wilderness and the extinction of wildlife. The problem with such events, however, was that they were all organised by the respective groups. Consequently, they did not engage a large number of people.

Understanding both, the catastrophic events of the decade as well as the general immobility around such issues, Senator Gaylord Nelson proposed a great measure. He realised that students were among the most active environmental protection activists and suggested that climate change teach-in practices had to begin on college and university campuses. As a result, the initiative then spread across the whole US, influencing not only students but rather millions of other organisations and groups. Finally, all these groups united under the aim to save our planet.

Where are we today?

Since 1990, the Earth Day has become a global event. Over one billion people around the world take part in this event every year. All the participants are influencing the frequency in which the environmental concerns are discussed and then – taken action upon.

EARTHDAY.ORG, on the other hand, currently serves as the official website for the event. It promotes the idea behind the Earth Day as well as the overall events that everyone can join to improve their knowledge on certain environmental situations.

This year specifically, the focus of the Earth Day falls under the concept of innovative thinking. Such innovative thinking, in turn, needs to be practiced in relation to two aspects. First, it is about driving and supporting the modern technologies that are run in an alignment with sustainable practices i.e., CleanTech/GreenTech. The primary goal of this technology is to minimise the negative impacts that humans have on the planet by utilising the renewable energy sources such as the sun, wind, moving water, organic plant material and the earth’s heat.

Second, it is about acquiring an innovative, transformative and sustainable mindset among all three levels of governance – businesses, governments, and civil society. Each individual within every community should therefore understand their personal contribution to the world environmental crisis and realise that those are the small changes in daily habits that make big impacts at the global level.

Still unsure about the importance of the Earth Day or why it is your actions that can contribute to change? Watch this video!

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