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.