Search Each year, Earth Day—April 22—marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in At the time, Americans were slurping leaded gas through massive V8 sedans. Industry belched out smoke and sludge with little fear of legal consequences or bad press. Air pollution was commonly accepted as the smell of prosperity. The book represented a watershed moment, selling more than , copies in 24 countries, and beginning to raise public awareness and concern for living organisms, the environment and links between pollution and public health.
Earth Day gave voice to that emerging consciousness, channeling the energy of the anti-war protest movement and putting environmental concerns on the front page. Senator from Wisconsin, after witnessing the ravages of the massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California.
Inspired by the student anti-war movement, he realized that if he could infuse that energy with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution, it would force environmental protection onto the national political agenda. Hayes built a national staff of 85 to promote events across the land.
April 22, falling between Spring Break and Final Exams, was selected as the date. On April 22,, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment.
Groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values. Earth Day achieved a rare political alignment, enlisting support from Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, city slickers and farmers, tycoons and labor leaders.
This time, Earth Day went global, mobilizing million people in countries and lifting environmental issues onto the world stage. Earth Day gave a huge boost to recycling efforts worldwide and helped pave the way for the United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. Meet the organizers of the very first Earth Day. Earth Day Today As the millennium approached, Hayes agreed to spearhead another campaign, this time focused on global warming and a push for clean energy. With 5, environmental groups in a record countries reaching out to hundreds of millions of people, Earth Day combined the big-picture feistiness of the first Earth Day with the international grassroots activism of Earth Day Earth Day used the power of the Internet to organize activists, but also featured a drum chain that traveled from village to village in Gabon, Africa.
Earth Day sent world leaders the loud and clear message that citizens around the world wanted quick and decisive action on global warming and clean energy. Much like , Earth Day came at a time of great challenge for the environmental community. Climate change deniers, well-funded oil lobbyists, reticent politicians, a disinterested public, and a divided environmental community all contributed to the narrative—cynicism versus activism. Earth Day had reached into its current status as the largest secular observance in the world, celebrated by more than a billion people every year, and a day of action that changes human behavior and provokes policy changes.
Today, the fight for a clean environment continues with increasing urgency, as the ravages of climate change become more manifest every day. We invite you to be a part of Earth Day and help write many more chapters—struggles and victories—into the Earth Day book.
In honor of this milestone, Earth Day Network is launching an ambitious set of goals to shape the future of 21st century environmentalism.