Over 40 years has passed since the first Earth Day took place on April 22nd, 1970. Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, announced a national teach-in day on the environment to the national media. In 1969, a horrific oil spill took place off the coast of Santa Barbara California and Nelson was outraged by the devastation and Washington's political disinterest.
This inspired Nelson to emerge public consciousness about air and water pollution and propose a national teach-in day on the environment. This was to be observed by every university campus in the United States.
Over 20 million Americans demonstrated in streets and parks for a massive coast to coast rally against the deterioration of the environment. The degradation on the environment would no longer be a common acceptance to the prosperity of a nation.
The first Earth Day led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Act. In 1990, Earth Day went global reaching 141 countries and 200 million people paving the way to the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janiero.
Gaylord Nelson wrote in a 1962 article that "for several years it has been troubling me that the state of the environment is simply a non-issue in the politics of our country." Currently, more than 175 countries celebrate Earth Day every year with numerous community activities focused on environmental issues.
Gathering public interest to the current environmental events is difficult no matter what era you are in. Nelson commented that "it was a gamble but it worked." His vision led to worldwide yearly events to encourage everyone to learn about environmental issues in their community.
Therefore, as you flip through your local newspaper see what events are taking place in your neck of the woods. Remember, the celebration of Earth Day can take place every day, not just today.