Earth Day, celebrated April 22, is a day designed to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth's environment. It is held annually during both spring in the northern hemisphere and autumn in the southern hemisphere. It was founded by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach-in in 1970 and is celebrated in many countries every year.
The United Nations celebrates an Earth Day each year on the March equinox, a tradition which was founded by peace activist John McConnell in 1969. n September 1969 at a conference in Seattle, Washington, U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin announced that in spring 1970 there would be a nationwide grassroots demonstration on the environment. This occurred during a time of great concern about overpopulation and when there was a strong movement towards "Zero Population Growth." Nelson viewed the stabilization of the nation's population as an important aspect of environmentalism and later said: "The bigger the population gets, the more serious the problems become ... We have to address the population issue. The United Kingdom, with the U.S. supporting it, took the position in Cairo in 1994 that every country was responsible for stabilizing its own population. It can be done. But in this country, it's phony to say 'I'm for the environment but not for limiting immigration.'" Senator Nelson first proposed the nationwide environmental protest to thrust the environment onto the national agenda.” "It was a gamble," he recalls, "but it worked." Five months before the first April 22 Earth Day, on Sunday, November 30, 1969, The New York Times carried a lengthy article by Gladwin Hill reporting on the rising hysteria of "global cooling": "Rising concern about the environmental crisis is sweeping the nation's campuses with an intensity that may be on its way to eclipsing student discontent over the war in Vietnam...a national day of observance of environmental problems...is being planned for next spring...when a nationwide environmental 'teach-in'...coordinated from the office of Senator Gaylord Nelson is planned...." Senator Nelson also hired Denis Hayes as the coordinator. April 22, 1970, Earth Day marks the beginning of the modern environmental movement. Approximately 20 million Americans participated, with a goal of a healthy, sustainable environment. Denis Hayes, the national coordinator, and his old staff organized massive coast-to-coast rallies. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment. Groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values. Mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries and lifting the status of environmental issues onto the world stage, Earth Day on April 22 in 1990 gave a huge boost to recycling efforts worldwide and helped pave the way for the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. As the millennium approached, Hayes agreed to spearhead another campaign, this time focused on global warming and a push for clean energy. The April 22 Earth Day in 2000 combined the big-picture feistiness of the first Earth Day with the international grassroots activism of Earth Day 1990. For 2000, Earth Day had the Internet to help link activists around the world. By the time April 22 came around, 5,000 environmental groups around the world were on board, reaching out to hundreds of millions of people in a record 184 countries. Events varied: A talking drum chain traveled from village to village in Gabon, Africa, for example, while hundreds of thousands of people gathered on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., USA. Earth Day 2000 sent the message loud and clear that citizens the world 'round wanted quick and decisive action on clean energy. Earth Day 2007 was one of the largest Earth Days to date, with an estimated billion people participating in the activities in thousands of places like Kiev, Ukraine; Caracas, Venezuela; Tuvalu; Manila, Philippines; Togo; Madrid, Spain; London; and New York. Founded by the organizers of the first April 22 Earth Day in 1970, Earth Day Network promotes environmental citizenship and year round progressive action worldwide. Earth Day Network is a driving force steering environmental awareness around the world. Through Earth Day Network, activists connect change in local, national, and global policies. Earth Day Network’s international network reaches over 17,000 organizations in 174 countries, while the domestic program engages 5,000 groups and over 25,000 educators coordinating millions of community development and environmental protection activities throughout the year. Earth Day is the only event celebrated simultaneously around the globe by people of all backgrounds, faiths and nationalities. More than a half billion people participate in Earth Day Network campaigns every year. Significance of April 22 * Senator Nelson chose the date as the one that could maximize participation on college campuses for what he conceived as an environmental teach-in. He determined that the week of April 19-25 was the best bet. It did not fall during exams or spring breaks, did not conflict with religious holidays such as Easter or Passover, and was late enough in spring to have decent weather. More students were likely to be in class, and there would be less competition with other events mid-week, so he chose Wednesday, April 22. Asked whether he had purposely chosen Lenin's 100th birthday, Nelson explained that with only 365 days a year and 3.7 billion people in the world, every day was the birthday of ten million living people. “On any given day, a lot of both good and bad people were born,” he said. “A person many consider the world’s first environmentalist, Saint Francis of Assisi, was born on April 22. So was Queen Isabella. * April 21 was the birthday of John Muir, who founded the Sierra Club. This was not lost on organizers who thought that April 22 was Muir's birthday. * April 22, 1970 was the 100th birthday of Vladimir Lenin. Time reported that some suspected the date was not a coincidence, but a clue that the event was "a Communist trick," and quoted a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution saying, "Subversive elements plan to make American children live in an environment that is good for them." J. Edgar Hoover, director of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, may have found the Lenin connection intriguing; it was alleged the FBI conducted surveillance at the 1970 demonstrations. The idea that the date was chosen to celebrate Lenin's centenary still persists in some quarters,although Lenin was never noted as an environmentalist. * April 22 is also the birthday of Julius Sterling Morton, the founder of Arbor Day, a national tree-planting holiday started in 1872. Arbor Day became a legal holiday in Nebraska in 1885, to be permanently observed on April 22. According to the National Arbor Day Foundation "the most common day for the state observances is the last Friday in April . . . but a number of state Arbor Days are at other times to coincide with the best tree planting weather." It has since been largely eclipsed by the more widely observed Earth Day, except in Nebraska, where it originated. source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth_Day