On April 22nd, more than 190 countries, including the United States, will celebrate Earth Day. It is a day to reflect on the impact humans have on the earth, and to demonstrate and reaffirm our support for environmental protection.
The first Earth Day was planned as a Teach-in, a day to inform about environmental issues. Earth Day’s founder, United States Senator Gaylord Nelson, an environmental activist who was outraged by the lack of political response to gross environmental degradation throughout the country, said that he was “convinced that all we need to do to bring an overwhelming insistence of the new generation that we stem the tide of environmental disaster is to present the facts clearly and dramatically. . . Every university should set aside one day in the school year – the same day across the Nation – for the teach-in."
His plan worked: over 20 million people turned up for Senator Nelson’s first Earth Day Teach-in on April 22, 1970. And from then on, the movement grew spontaneously, creating its own momentum with no central organization.
This year, the United States marks Earth Day by highlighting the need to curb the dramatic growth in the world’s mismanaged waste and marine debris.
Mismanaged waste pollutes the terrestrial environment and flows into our ocean, affecting marine health everywhere. Marine debris, including microplastics in the ocean, can lead to declining global fish stocks, and costs billions of dollars to fisheries, tourism, and other industries.
The United States is working internationally to encourage technological innovation in the waste sector, to spur new infrastructure investment and private sector engagement, to collaborate in scientific research, to promote market solutions, and to raise public awareness about the threats of unmanaged waste and marine debris.
On Earth Day 2018 we celebrate the ingenuity of those who are rising to the many challenges to protect our environment and natural heritage while promoting economic growth and shared prosperity.