When Is Earth Day And Why Is It Celebrated?

Earth Day is intended to promote environmentalism.
Earth Day is intended to promote environmentalism.

Earth Day is a yearly celebration which takes place on April 22. More than 193 nations organize Earth Day events, and they are coordinated by the Earth Day Network. The objectives for the events include sensitizing the global population on environmental concerns and demonstrating support for environmental protection.

When Is Earth Day?

On April 22 every year, the world observes Earth Day. The observance of this day as Earth Day has been a tradition since 1970. The initial Earth Day celebration took place on the 100th anniversary of Vladimir Lenin’s birthday. This coincidence gave rise to rumors which linked the event to communism. Once the rumors faded, the date was accepted worldwide as Earth Day. The Equinoctial Earth Day falls on the March equinox which is around March 20. This date marks the exact moment of the Northern Hemisphere’s astronomical spring and the Southern Hemisphere’s astronomical autumn

Who Is Considered To Be The Founder Of Earth Day?

The concept of Earth Day was first suggested by John McConnell, a peace activist who attended the UNESCO conference of 1969 held in San Francisco. McConnell envisioned a day where peace and the Earth would be honored, and he proposed the date March 21 the following year. This date was subsequently sanctioned in a proclamation drafted by McConnell and signed by U Thant, the then Secretary General of the UN. A month later, another Earth Day was created by US Senator Gaylord Nelson in the form of an environmental teach-in that was organized on April 22, 1970. Nelson invited Pete McCloskey, a Republican Congressman who gravitated towards conservation, to be his co-chair. Nelson drew inspiration from the student anti- war movements as he sought to make environmental protection a national agenda. Nelson later received the Presidential Medal of Freedom award for his efforts. Denis Hayes popularized the event in 1990 on a global scale and encouraged the participation of 141 nations.

Historical Background

The 1960s was significant for the ecological movement in the US. There was widespread resistance to open-air nuclear weapon tests while in Nassau County, New York, grassroots activism was working in opposition to DDT. Air pollution was the order of the day where American industries released gases and sludge without fear of repercussion or bad press. The need to set aside a day to raise awareness for environmental protection was borne out of several factors. In 1969, an oil well off the coast of the city of Santa Barbara, California, exploded, spewing over three million gallons of oil. The well was a drilling operation of Union Oil Platform A, and the disaster resulted in the death of more than 10,000 sea lions, seabirds, seals, and dolphins. The disaster led to the mobilization of activists whose aims included the establishment of Earth Day in addition to environmental education and regulation. In 1962, Rachel Carson unveiled the book Silent Spring which proved to be influential in the realms of environmental pollution and the health of living organisms, selling over 500,000 copies in 24 countries.

When Was The First Earth Day Celebrated?

The initial Earth Day was observed in 1970 in 2,000 universities and colleges, about 10,000 primary and secondary schools, as well as in hundreds of communities across the US. The celebration brought together Democrats and Republicans, the rich and the poor, farmers and tycoons, and labor leaders. The then Mayor of the city of New York, John Lindsay, supported the cause by making Central Park available for the date and shutting down Fifth Avenue. The New York Times estimated that more than 100,000 people congregated in Union Square throughout the day. In Philadelphia, the crowd met in Fairmount Park where the Senator Edmund Muskie gave an address as the keynote speaker. The initial Earth Day resulted in the founding of the Environmental Protection Agency as well as the adoption of the Endangered Species, Clean Air, and Clean Water Acts. In 1990, over 200 million individuals in 141 nations had joined the cause.

What Is The Purpose Of The Earth Day?

Events are typically held worldwide on Earth Day in support of environmental protection. Earth Day seeks to unite people from all parts of the world in environmental causes and to make them trustees in the elimination of issues such as pollution, conflict, poverty, and wars. Each year, the Earth Day Organization announces a theme for the Earth Day. The focus for the 2017 Earth Day, for example, was "Environmental and Climate Literacy." The campaigns associated with Earth Day include championing for, among other concerns, the creation of green cities and reforestation. The need for an Earth Day is more serious than ever due to climate change. Weather patterns are being disrupted across the world leaving people and flora and fauna more vulnerable to natural disasters. Earth Day events are being used to sensitize people on the rising sea levels, the extinctions of some species, the acidification of oceans, and other concerns linked to climate change.

Interesting Earth Day Facts

  • April 22 was chosen to mobilize college students. Senator Nelson invited Denis Hayes to be the national coordinator, and Hayes was then studying at the graduate program of Harvard University. Hayes subsequently sought young environmental campaigners to promote the event. The team settled on April 22 as the date in many college campuses falls between Spring Break and the final exams. The team wanted to tap into the energy the students had exhibited in their anti-war movements.
  • From its Origins in the US, Earth Day blossomed into the largest secular worldwide event. By 2000, Earth Day had attracted over 5,000 environmental organizations in 183 nations. The Earth Day of 2007 broke new records, and it took place in thousands of places such as London, Kiev, Manila, Venezuela, and Tuvalu.
  • Earth Day is recognized by the UN which renamed it International Mother Earth Day in 2009. However, the US still calls the day Earth Day.
  • The 2011 Earth Day in Afghanistan resulted in the planting of 28 million trees as organized by the Earth Day Network.
  • In 2012, a hundred thousand people rode bikes throughout China on Earth Day in a show of support for Co2 reduction.
  • The 2016 Earth Day resulted in the adoption of the Paris Agreement by over 120 States which advanced climate protection efforts.

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