The past Saturday, April 22nd millions of people around the globe celebrated Earth Day, an event designed to shine light on the serious environmental issues we are facing, from climate crisis to air pollution and deforestation.
But what is Earth Day? How can you celebrate this year?
Earth Day was started in America in 1970 by Senator Gaylord Nelson, the junior senator from Wisconsin. Senator Nelson was concerned for the overall health of the planet and the deteriorating environment in the United States. Before the early 1960’s, many people were oblivious to air pollution and the effect leaded gas from their automobiles had on the climate and the ozone layer. However, the author Rachel Carson published a book in 1962 called “Silent Spring” and this book represented the spark of interest and public awareness for living organisms, the environment, and the effects of pollution on health.
After a massive oil spill in Santa Barbara in 1969, Nelson took inspiration from the student’s anti-war movement and wanted to infuse the energy of student protests with an emerging public concern about air and water pollution. He announced to the national media about his idea to hold a teach-in on college campuses to better educate the students about the decline in environmental health and inspire the next generation. In order to maximise student participation, they selected April 22—a Wednesday that fell between Spring Break and Final Exams—and they hired young activist Denis Hayes to plan the campus teach-ins.
By the end of 1970, the first Earth Day had resulted in other ground-breaking environmental laws as well as the establishment of the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
Denis Hayes was approached by a group of environmental leaders as 1990 drew near to organise yet another significant campaign for the environment. This time, Earth Day mobilised 200 million people across 141 nations, bringing environmental issues to the forefront of international politics.
What about Earth Day 2023?
More than a billion people worldwide observe Earth Day each year as a day of action to change human behaviour and bring about changes to global, national, and local policy. It is now largely acknowledged as the largest secular commemoration in the world.
Earth Day 23 followed the release of yet another assessment from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) of the United Nations in March, which was referred to as a "final warning" by researchers.
The theme for this year was “Invest In Our Planet”, continuing on the same theme from 2022. It is an appeal for organisations, companies, and people to make investments in the future of the world.