top of page

What is Earth Day, and why did it begin?

Updated: Apr 2, 2023

For decades Americans have been consuming enormous amounts of leaded gas, industries pumped out smoke and sludge, and air pollution was accepted as a sign of growth. The whole time mainstream America remained oblivious to environmental concerns and how a polluted environment threatens human health.

In 1962, Rachel Carson’s New York Times bestseller Silent Spring raised public awareness of the dangers of pesticides on the environment and the direct link between pollution and public health.

1969 brought to light even more dangers to the environment with the massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California, and the fire on Cleveland's Cuyahoga River.

Inspired by these events, Senator Gaylord Nelson, a junior senator from Wisconsin established the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, to illuminate the issue of environmental responsibility and transform the public’s attitude.

About that first Earth Day, Nelson wrote in the EPA Journal, "It was on that day that Americans made it clear that they understood and were deeply concerned over the deterioration of our environment and the mindless dissipation of our resources. That day left a permanent impact on the politics of America. ... In short, Earth Day launched the Environmental decade with a bang.”

Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against environmental deterioration. Over 20 million Americans participated in demonstrations from coast to coast against the negative impacts of industrial development and pollution.

Earth Day was the push the nation needed. Congress passed at least six major initiatives that would become the foundation of the nation’s environmental laws.

Beginning in 1990, Earth Day went global and, according to, the day mobilized more than 200 million people in 141 countries to bring the fight for the environment to the world stage.

In 1992 the United Nations hosted an Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.

Nelson received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1995 for his role as the founder of Earth Day.

Earth Day continued to grow well into the new millennium.

Earth Day 2000, 30 years later, sent world leaders a loud and clear message: Citizens around the world wanted quick and decisive action on global warming and clean energy.

In 2010, more than one billion people took action for the 40th anniversary of Earth Day.

For the 50th anniversary of 2020 on the Earth Day Network,

tens of millions of people across 193 countries participated in one of the largest online mass mobilizations in history.

More than 1 billion people now participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world. Earth Day activities often last for seven days making it Earth Week!

Check out this video about

What are you doing to celebrate and support Earth Day 2022? #earthday #earthdaycelebration #earthmonth

Kristen and I are hiking the Pinnacles National park basking in the beauty of our land, picking up trash along the way.


bottom of page