Earth day is one of those “holidays” that I have never really payed attention to. But I came across the Earth Day page on National Geographic’s website, and there is actually some cool stuff – Check it out!
Earth Day’s history is rooted in the activist-driven 1960s, when the environment was in visible ruins and people were angry, according to Rogers.
“It wasn’t uncommon in some cities during rush hour to be standing on a street corner and not be able to see across the street” because of pollution, she said.
Despite the anger, green issues were absent from the U.S. political agenda. This frustrated U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, whose campaigns for the environment through much of the 1960s had fallen flat.
In 1969 Nelson hit on the idea of an environmental protest modeled after anti-Vietnam War demonstrations called teach-ins.
“It took off like gangbusters. Telegrams, letters, and telephone inquiries poured in from all across the country,” Nelson recounted in an essay shortly before he died in July 2005 at 89.
“The American people finally had a forum to express its concern about what was happening to the land, rivers, lakes, and air—and they did so with spectacular exuberance.”
Nelson recruited activist Denis Hayes to organize the April 22, 1970, Earth Day teach-in, which today is sometimes credited for launching the modern environmental movement.
By the end of 1970, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had been born, and efforts to improve air and water quality were gaining political traction.
“It was truly amazing what happened,” Rogers said. “Blocks just tumbled.”
If nothing else, let this be a day when you just appreciate the beautiful world we live in. Sometimes we forget how amazing it is, so here are some photos to remind you: