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Earth Day: From Grassroots Campaign to Global Phenomenon

Earth Day began as a small movement that grew into a worldwide campaign for a greener, cleaner environment for all living organisms.

How much do you know about Earth Day? Check out some facts below.

  • Earth Day began April 22, 1970.
  • Earth Day is commonly known as the "modern environmental movement."
  • Founder: Gaylord Nelson, former U.S. Senator of Wisconsin.
  • Nelson took action after witnessing the extensive damage caused by the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California.
  • Earth Day was inspired by the student anti-war movement.
  • Nelson, along with Pete McCloskey, a Republican congressman, as his co-chair and Denis Hayes as national coordinator, built a national staff of 85 to promote rallies and events across the U.S. to raise public awareness for the environment and public health.
  • On the first Earth Day 20 million Americans took to the streets and parks to protest for a cleaner, more sustainable, healthy environment.
  • Thousands of colleges across the U.S. organized protests to fight against oil spills, pollution from factories, vehicles and power plants, toxic dumps, raw sewage and the extinction of wildlife.
  • The Earth Day movement caused all types of people—including Republicans, Democrats, upper and working classes—to come together to support a greener planet.
  • The first Earth Day rally sparked the birth of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species acts.
  • Hayes organized a second worldwide campaign in 1990, which included 200 million people in 141 countries.
  • Hayes's second campaign inspired recycling worldwide and paved the way for the United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.
  • Earth Day 2000 was another huge, worldwide campaign that focused on global warming and clean energy. Participants included 5,000 environmental groups in 184 countries. Hundreds of thousands of people gathered at the National Mall in Washington, DC, to show their support.
  • Earth Day 2010—the 40th anniversary—brought 225,000 people to the National Mall for a Climate Rally and began a worldwide program—A Billion Acts of Green, which is the largest environmental service campaign in the world.
  • The 2010 celebration also launched an international program to plant 1 million trees, partnering with James Cameron, director of Avatar.
  • Since 2010, Earth Day Network's online base rose to over 900,000 members.
  • So far, Earth Day has inspired over 800 million worldwide "acts of green," pledges which aim to promote sustainability and reduce mankind's overall carbon footprint.
  • More than 1 billion people participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the "largest civic observance" in the world.

Source: Earth Day Network

For a list of Earth Day related events and activities, go here.

jo April 11, 2012 at 12:52 PM
And Bob... why do you need a gov sponsored "Day" to be a good citizen..always a sheep ...
Issy April 11, 2012 at 12:56 PM
You do know 'mother nature' is not real? 97% of climate scientists agree with the evidence that man is effecting the climate. Most of the other 3% work for big oil etc. It does not depend on what side you are on, it depends on what the facts show: They unquestionably show that the earth is warming, C02 levels rising, oceans become more acidic, changes in climate, sea levels rising etc. Now if you want to frame a discussion within the parameters of these facts, then fine, otherwise you are just fooling yourself.
Issy April 11, 2012 at 01:13 PM
Would this be the same Richard Lindzen who testified that there are no links between smoking and cancer?
jo April 11, 2012 at 01:18 PM
"facts" as we now know from some of the so called experts have been doctored and edited for political agenda and gain...there is even a huge dispute some scientist vs. the native Indians in Canada about the polar bear population.. scientist saying their numbers are on decline and the native people saying Not So..
Issy April 11, 2012 at 01:59 PM
No we do not know that. The story has been shown to be a fabrication, documents were not doctored and data from independent sources confirm this including s recent Koch Brothers study http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/richard-muller-koch-brothers-funded-scientist-declares-global-warming-real-article-1.969870 The polar bear population is irrelevant to climate change. However polar bears need summer sea ice to thrive which is declining.
jo April 11, 2012 at 02:18 PM
Issy..you believe the "experts" you want and I will believe the "experts" I trust... millions of folks believe as I do.. sorry.. we are all not wrong..and your side has been screaming for years that the "climate" crisis has been affecting the polar bear population and you say NO.. you can't even agree with YOUR experts.. sorry.. ring no sale with me...
jo April 11, 2012 at 02:19 PM
One more thing Issy..this planet will be around for far more years then you and I have left..
Issy April 11, 2012 at 02:35 PM
Sure the planet will be around, but the question is will mankind? And unless we act the answer is clearly no.
Issy April 11, 2012 at 02:40 PM
Where did I say NO? They are not my experts, it is not about sides, that is the part you seem to not understand,it is what do the facts show? The world is not black and white. Polar bears are very hard to count,given their range. They also live in five separate groups, so it is quite possible that both some groups could be in decline while others thrive.
jo April 11, 2012 at 02:44 PM
I have faith.. we and the world will keep on keeping .. though all things come to an end.. I am not in fear..none at all... humans know the right things to do... I have trust in their good sense..
Joe McKenney April 11, 2012 at 03:20 PM
Issy, please read the Lindzen presentation. The article you posted from the Daily News says that the scientist believes the climate has warmed, but that he doesn't now how much is attributable to man and how much is natural variation. I used to be a big anthropogenic global warming supporter. I realized I had been snookered by scientists who can't help themselves from being political activists. Very sad. for the record, Lindzen never "tesitifed" that there is no link between cigarettes and cancer. Why would he be qualified to do that since he is a climate scientist? It is a libelous smear by Jim Hansen. Please read the following link: http://www.climateconversation.wordshine.co.nz/2011/05/lindzen-dismisses-hansens-defamations/
Bob Ogden April 11, 2012 at 03:32 PM
Your faith in humanity is misplaced. Have you taken a look at the superfund sites right here. The Kotona well that was closed in 1978 when the aquifer was contaminated with dry cleaning run off which was being illegally disposed of via a septic tank? Have you looked at Indian Point 2 and Indian Point 3 or IBM in Yorktown? Add to that what's in NYC, Ulster and Orange County and you just begin to get an idea what little sense these corporations have. Don't misplace your trust, I've never seen a corporation decide to spend money that has no profit because its the "right thing to do". Even BP that negligently caused the worst oil spill in history has spun it so their ads say they brought jobs to the gulf states. These are the people you trust? This isn't a left right issue. When the air is polluted, the animals are dying and the crops all fail, perhaps then you will understand that you can't eat money.
jo April 11, 2012 at 03:57 PM
stop it with the sky is falling routine.. you say not trust humanity.. well You are trusting the gov.. seems to me they are made up of men and woman... duh !!! ..I refuse to buy into the doomsday scenario you dwell in..I live right near IP.. I sleep well.. very well..look.. if it is your nature to stay up nights and dwell on the imperfections of life..you will never sleep.. do what you can in your circle.. just Like I do what I can in my circle
Issy April 11, 2012 at 04:26 PM
Because he was part of a group funded by Exxon and Phillip Morris and stated that the link between anthropological warming was as tenuous as that between smoking and cancer. So you are correct he did not testify, but he is on record as saying it. Question, there is politics in every issue so what specifically changed your mind?
Cadeyrn April 11, 2012 at 04:48 PM
Amen. Do these people ever get out of bed unafraid?
Joe McKenney April 11, 2012 at 05:09 PM
Lindzen took a small fee to speak from an oil group in the early 90s. He has taken nothing since. He doesn't work for anybody. He is not "on the record" saying there is not a link between smoking and lung cancer. Re politics: it had nothing to do with changing my mind. I am a lifelong Democrat. I voted for Al Gore! I read a critique on An Inconvenient Truth that seemed credible. I started looking into it more and learned how the models work (or rather learned they don't accurately predict warming). New facts support the case against CO2 being a source of runaway warming. The warming we have experienced is within the statistical normal range. I realized I was wrong. Painful as a stomach punch, but I had to be honest with myself.
Issy April 11, 2012 at 05:50 PM
I would interested in what new facts support C02 is not the source of warming, because historically high levels of C02 have always resulted in warming. No one has ever claimed models accurately predict warming, only suggest future statistical trends. No the warming is not within statistical normal range, it is at an unprecedented rate, that is becoming clearer with each year. The simple fact that C02 is having a devastating effect on marine life in itself is enough for us to drastically reduce C02 levels. http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/news-events/ocean-acidification-rate-may-be-unprecedented-study-says
Bob Ogden April 11, 2012 at 06:23 PM
Jo, You need to pay more attention when you read. I wasn't referring to IP being a nuclear hazard. I was referring to it as being a Superfund Site due to the contamination it has already caused. But no doubt, they'll clean it up because it's the right thing to do.
jo April 11, 2012 at 07:00 PM
Bob... I read and comprehend well.. I know what you were talking about..don't get uppity..
bob April 11, 2012 at 08:09 PM
Issy, you are a fool ..CO2 the cause its laughable...the Gore hockey stick diagram is complete bull oh and if you look at it CO2 follows the heating it does not precede it, the thing that has actual impact on the climate of the earth is the SUN, yes the SUN...but the political left cant demonize the sun and as always they must have a boogeyman..so they make one up and they will will never acknowledge it...Science is not based on concensus or how many non-climate scientists signed the bogus UN IPCC report ,it is based on the scientific theory. Again every living thing on the earth emits CO2 plants need it to make oxygen but it is a way the left can attack the untimate evil in their stupid little minds..Capitalism. They want to tax cow farts...its a complete hoax, like Eugenics, or when the next ice age was coming in the 1970's or the overpopulation scare...Like I said you can all get together and stop breathing until you pass out then you can feel better that you did not emit any CO2 for that short period of time...you did your part.
William Demarest (Editor) April 11, 2012 at 09:24 PM
I hope Earth Day is helping our children to appreciate the importance of protecting our environment, and that they can indeed help make a difference in the world.
Ryan Buncher (Editor) April 11, 2012 at 09:32 PM
That raises a good point about the importance of Earth Day. It can help make the message easier for children to remember. I know that has been the case with my daughter. The more complex discussions of the issue can come later. For now, she needs to know that protecting the environment is important.
Joe McKenney April 11, 2012 at 10:52 PM
Issy, you seem so much like I was a few years ago. All climate scientists agree that a doubling of CO2 will result in an increase in average global temps of approximately 1 Celsius, with no other forcings. What is disputed are the forcings. The warmists say that the effects will be tripled or quadrupled. There is zero evidence of that. The preponderance of evidence suggests that he forcings are negative (clouds providing an albedo effect) resulting in less warming. Re acidification: The problem is that studies and articles like this aren't proof of anything. They don't know how acidification affected species millions of years ago. There is no causation, even if there may be some correlation. Sea life hasn't been devastated. Life actually adapts better to more acidity than it does to alkalinity. You seem like such a good person, like many if not most environmentally active people. I would encourage you to seek out information that opposes your current views and see what you think. It was an eye-opener for me.
Issy April 12, 2012 at 12:02 AM
I doubt very much I am where you were a few years ago. I talk to scientists, research all avenues, attend lectures and conduct my own research. This is not a matter to be taken lightly, our very existence is at stake. The fact that high levels of C02 correlate with mass extinctions is surely no coincidence? And while you are correct no one knows for certain, we are seeing sea life struggling to survive and with on going increase in C02 things are not getting better. Life can certainly adapt, but the changes are so rapid that many species will not. We owe it to all life to make every effort to reduce C02 levels.
Issy April 12, 2012 at 12:20 AM
Fool? Please? Do some research. Sun activity has remained stable for decades. C02 levels follow temperatures because historically C02 has not been the cause of initial warming, but as temperatures rise C02 is released from the permafrost multiplying the initial warming effect. So really who is the fool here?
Walden Macnair April 12, 2012 at 12:58 PM
Bob, this isn't a case of chicken little saying the sky is falling. Look at what's going on. The sea level has risen, the glaciers are receeding, animals are altering their migration patterns and we're geting more and more severe weather. The sun hasn't gotten any bigger or hotter or closer so that's really not a factor. Yes there are more solar flares this year but they don't have an effect on temperature. Yes living things produce CO2 and in the natural cycle of the earth that CO2 is taken in by plants and Oxygen is returned to the atmosphere. Instead we are producing more and more CO2 in unatural ways and chopping down more and more trees to convert jungles and forests into cities, towns and the occasional lawn furniture. Some day man will no longer be on this planet and the earth will move on to its next phase in evolution but for the moment we are the stewards of the earth and have a moral responsibility to take care of it as best we can. Finally, even if your theory that man has nothing to do with climate change is correct, you must admit that climate change will affect man so why not improve conditions now instead of waiting for the inevitable?
Mary April 12, 2012 at 02:02 PM
Do you really need an "Earth Day" to teach your daughter about protecting the environment? That is something I do with my kids on a daily basis. When we go for a walk around the neighborhood, we carry a garbage bag to pick up the litter around our neighborhood. We also rescue earthworms, use a composting bin and rain barrels in our garden and recycle whatever we can. I don't need a day sponsored by the government to learn how to do the right thing.
Bruce June 20, 2012 at 02:31 AM
so many people so many opinions... I'd urge Issy to read Scientific American and learn some bigger Facts!
Bruce June 20, 2012 at 02:40 AM
BTW Issy, Cows produce more CO2 than humans... Temperature change is a natural occurrence here on Earth. There have been numerous hot times and numerous Ice Ages... Should we pollute less; of course yes. Should we all be vegan; I don't think so. should we ride bicycles more than relying on cars, sure. Can we deliver furniture by Bicycle, not on my back... There are varying degrees of everything. You should go into CO2 reclamation; God knows the soda industry needs all it can get to sell you Bubbly High Fructose Corn Syrup water to keep the undertakers busy and the dentists going on vacation to aid world travel industry alive and prospering... ;))
Issy June 20, 2012 at 10:03 AM
Bruce, We are fortunate to have one world's top climate research facilities in our area, I would suggest you log into their website instead of sprouting nonsense. http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/ Could you link me to a article in Scientific America (or any science journal) that says man is not causing global warming. FYI Cows do not produce more C02 than humans this is just ignorant meaningless rhetoric the flat-earthers like to spout. The actual FACT is that the farming of animals which includes deforestation, creating feed and fertilizers etc does. Please stick to the facts rather than making your own up and then maybe, just maybe, we can work together to solve climate change.

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