Earth Day has come a long way since it was born 51 years ago. It has grown from a feelgood grassroots movement to raise environmental awareness and encourage protection to a powerful international phenomenon that continues to reshape our thinking on how we see and engage with our surroundings. It is also now more important than ever given climate change has reached epidemic proportions, a potential crisis that would impact every living creature. So while you’re thinking about what you should or shouldn’t be doing to protect the planet, here are some Earth Day facts to chew on.
Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson got it all started in 1970 when he noticed that protests over the Vietnam War never addressed the environmental impact of the conflict and wider challenges to the planet via contaminants like oil spills, pesticides, and deadly smog.
Earth Day inspired a wave of landmark environmental legislation in U.S. history, including the Clean Air Act, the Water Quality Improvement Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Toxic Substances Control Act, and the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act. It also helped lead to the creation of the federal Environmental Protection Agency under the presidency of Richard Nixon.
Earth Day was a pretty local affair for its first 20 years. In 1990 is exploded into an international event celebrated in 140 countries. Now almost 200 countries and an estimated one billion people come together each year to participate.
The Earth Day mission has inspired millions of people worldwide to get involved in protecting the planet is big and small ways. More than 100,000 people in China, for example, rode bikes to work in 2012. Additionally, 28 million trees were planted in Afghanistan on Earth Day 2011.
Five years ago, more than one billion people worldwide participated in Earth Day festivities. That year’s theme focused on the importance of “Trees for the Earth,” which helped inspire individuals, organizations and governments to plant hundreds of millions of new trees across the planet in that year alone.
What’s your favorite Earth Day fact? Let us know at email@example.com.