Earth Day | A Brief History

History of Earth Day

In 1970, Sen. Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, inspired by what he had seen following a California oil spill, planned a grassroots demonstration aimed at protecting the environment. In the mode of student demonstrations, Nelson decided to hold a “teach-in” on the environment. Pete McCloskey, a Republican Congressman, was drafted as co-chair and Harvard professor Denis Hayes was tapped as national coordinator. Hayes picked April 22 for the first Earth Day since it fell between Spring Break and final exams and students were available to participate.

The idea spread quickly. By the time April 22, 1970 came, more than 20 million Americans took part in Earth Day events, eventually leading to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The event’s next big day came in 1990 when Hayes organized another Earth Day campaign. That year, more than 200 million people in 141 countries participated in Earth Day events. By 2000, the number of countries with Earth Day activities topped 184 countries with 500 million people taking part. Today, as many as a billion people in 190 countries are believed to mark the day through rallies, tree plantings, clean-up projects or other events.

Source: Leada Gore |