Before the Environmental Protection Agency there was no fear of legal repercussion for industries leaking out pollution; dirty air and water were seen as the norm among most people. Mainstream America remained largely oblivious to their surroundings and saw the smoke and sludge as a sign of prosperity.
The father of Earth Day, Gaylord Nelson, and a few other people were working hard to promote environmental protection in the 1960’s. His idea began from seeing how successful “teach-ins” were to college student to protest the Vietnam War.
The official birth of Earth Day was April 22, 1970 and an estimated 20 million Americans marched the streets and demonstrated commitment to a healthy and sustainable environment. Everyone had come together for the idea; Republicans, Democrats, union members, farmers, scientists, etc. The success of the first Earth Day was incredible and had given the environmental issues national and political attention. “It was a gamble,” Gaylord recalled, “but it worked.”
This day influenced the creation of the US Environmental Protection Agency and abundant laws that protect our environment. The laws include: The Clean Air Act, The Water Quality Improvement Act, The Resource Recovery Act, The Occupational Safety and Health Act, The Federal Environmental Pesticide Act, The Safe Drinking Water Act, The Endangered Species Act, etc. This day helped to put environmental issues on the world stage and paved the way for the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit.
Earth Day has reached current status as the largest secular observance in the world and is celebrated by more than a billion people yearly; observed through rallies, conferences, outdoor activities, and service projects.
Today, the fight for a clean environment and global warming continues with increasing urgency as the discussion of climate change becomes more and more popular every day. Earth Day is now more than a day, it’s a message about the personal responsibility we all share to “think globally and act locally” as lovers of planet Earth. Every person on Earth shares the responsibility to do as much as they can to help preserve the planet’s natural resources for both today generation and future generations.