April 22 marks the 52nd observance of Earth Day and the birth of the global environmental movement. It is an opportunity to celebrate the earth, to resolve to follow more sustainable practices and to engage in protecting the Earth’s wellbeing. This year’s theme is “Invest In Our Planet.”
The roots of Earth Day go back to growing public outrage at the lack of political response to rampant pollution and gross environmental degradation perpetrated around the country. Two events in particular spurred the public into taking action. The first was a massive oil spill off the California coast in early 1969. Then in June of that year, the Cuyahoga River [Kah-yah-HO-gah] in Cleveland, Ohio, caught fire, due to its extreme pollution by industrial waste. It was not the first such incident, but it was the final straw. The 1969 Cuyahoga River fire became a symbol of environmental degradation across the country.
One of the people outraged by the lack of political will to do anything about it was U.S. Senator and environmental activist Gaylord Nelson. He believed that nothing would be done until enough people made a public show of their outrage, so he organized the first Earth Day in 1970. He said that "The objective was to get a nationwide demonstration of concern for the environment so large that it would shake the political arena. It was a gamble, but it worked. An estimated 20 million people participated in peaceful demonstrations all across the country."
By 1990, 200 million people in 149 countries held rallies and participated in activities, promoting recycling and clean environment practices.
Today, Earth Day is the largest secular observance in the world. Around a billion people in over 190 countries engage in activities intended to influence how people see and treat their environment and advocate for national and local policy changes. This year, the emphasis is on addressing and mitigating the causes of climate change through public and private investment in innovation and green technologies.
“More than 50 years ago, a generation rallied to confront the environmental crises they faced. They took action in hopes that those in power would listen,” said President Biden.
“Today, a new generation is sounding the alarm louder than ever, demanding that world leaders act. It is in all our interests to rise to that challenge and let our legacy be one of action.”
Anncr: That was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.