Today, April 22 is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.
It was the idea of Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin who was very concerned about the effects the rapid growth of industrialization was having on the environment in the 25 years following WWII. No one seemed to care about the dumping of waste including newly created chemicals into the water, air and onto the land.
The 1960’s were a decade of protest and challenging the status quo about many social issues including poverty, racism and the Vietnam war.
A huge oil spill in California in 1969 horrified many. Information about the effects of DDT caused many to think about the effects new chemicals and random waste disposal from industry was having on the health of people and the environment.
Senator Nelson decided to make April 22, 1970 a day for citizens to take part in activities to raise awareness about protecting the Earth. Dennis Hayes, a 25-year-old graduate student helped organize many activities. The media spread the word.
An estimated 20 million Americans took part in the first Earth Day. The large crowds got the attention of many including politicians. Environmental regulations were put in place during the 1970’s in the United States and other countries.
The focus has changed in 50 years. One major success story is the world making changes that have greatly reduce damage to the ozone layer.
We still struggle with many issues including garbage and plastics, climate change and the huge loss of wild animals and birds.
More needs to be done.
Jana Stanfield said “You cannot do all the good the Earth needs, but the Earth needs all the good you can do. “