Earth Day founded to teach importance of environmental protection

By Laura Rahill

Many of you may have noticed Google’s doodle April 22, which marked the 44th Earth Day, a holiday celebrated in more than 192 countries around the globe.

Google’s temporary logo featured an animation of six animals from across the globe: a rufous hummingbird, a moon jellyfish, a veiled chameleon, two Japanese macaque, a puffer fish and a dung beetle. This important day is devoted to policies, which support the protection of the environment.

Of course, education is at the heart of this day, encouraging not only schools but communities to implement greener policies and solutions. Educators come together with leaders to emphasize the importance of a greener environment in the hope that engaging tomorrow’s leaders will mean the continued protection of the Earth.

Many consider this day, in 1970, to be the birth of the modern environmental movement. Protest was common at the time, as war raged in Vietnam, but saving the planet was not on anyone’s agenda. The world was somewhat oblivious to the consequences of pollution.

The publication of Rachel Carson’s New York Times bestseller “Silent Spring” in 1962 raised both public concern and awareness for the importance of environmental protection, and so this issue came under the spotlight on the world stage.

It was then-U.S. Sen. Gaylord Nelson, a Wisconsin Democrat, who founded Earth Day when he announced the idea of a “national teach-in on the environment” to the press, and events were promoted around America. Because of this effort, 20 million Americans took to the streets April 22, 1970 to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment.

The rallies gained huge support across the country. Thousands of protesters denounced oil spills, raw sewage, power plants, toxic dumps, pesticides, polluting factories and the loss of habitat for wildlife.

The first wildly successful Earth Day led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species acts.

In 1990, Earth Day went global with a second successful campaign by environmental leaders, in which 200 million people in 141 countries took part. In 1995, then-President Bill Clinton awarded Nelson the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his role as Earth Day’s founder.

In 2000, Earth Day focused on global warming and a push for clean energy with the number of countries participating worldwide rising to 184.

Today, Earth Day continues with great momentum and, of course, is as important as ever. There were many events happening all across the globe in support of this holiday.

In New York, many events are taking place in communities and schools in a bid to spread awareness of a sustainable practices, among many other environmental issues.

Earth Day is the promotion of a cause that affects everyone. After all, we are responsible for leaving this planet in good shape for future generations.

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