What is Earth Day?
Curious about what 'Earth Day' actually means? We've got the details here.
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There’s no doubt we all take Mother Earth for granted. We have been given a beautiful planet to call home, and sometimes we need a reminder of how to treat her right.
U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin founded Earth Day as a national environmental teach-in — the first one was held on April 22, 1970 — and he was later awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his work. Nelson hoped to raise public awareness of the dangers of pollution. Today, the holiday has turned into something much bigger.
The first Earth Day succeeded in focusing nationwide awareness on environmental issues, and it transformed public attitudes. “When polled in May 1971, 25 percent of the U.S. public declared protecting the environment to be an important goal, a 2,500 percent increase over 1969,” according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
We’ve come a long way since the first Earth Day. By 1990 the holiday had gone global, with 200 million people in more than 140 nations participating. By 2000 the holiday honed in on clean energy, involving hundreds of millions of people in 184 countries and 5,000 environmental groups. Today, the Earth Day Network consists of 17,000 partners and organizations in 174 countries. Approximately one billion people in 192 countries take part in what is the largest civic-focused day of action in the world.
Today, the official Earth Day website describes it as “a day of political action and civic participation. People march, sign petitions, meet with their elected officials, plant trees, clean up their towns and roads. Corporations and governments use it to make pledges and announce sustainability measures. Faith leaders, including Pope Francis, connect Earth Day with protecting God’s greatest creations, humans, biodiversity and the planet that we all live on.”