The history behind Earth Day 

Posters presented at an environmental protest in New York. (Photo credit: Fred Murphy Photography)

By Thu Nguyen 

Date April 27, 2022 

SAN JOSE, CALIF. — The first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970, now 52 years later, the movement to demonstrate support for more environmental protection is still active with worldwide participants every April 22. 

The movement started with the energy crisis, which was a period when there was a petroleum shortage in the United States. The shortage was due to the Arab states in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) declaring an oil embargo. 

The crisis led Americans to realize that the Earth’s resources were limited and eventually, it would run out. 

Furthermore, with the publication of biologist Rachel Carter’s book “Silent Spring”, the movement was sparked. The book analyzed how the pesticide DDT had a dangerous impact on the human and natural food chains. More than half a million copies of the text were purchased. Overall, the book brought awareness to the American public about the dangers of polluting the environment and concern about the impact they are leaving on Earth. 

The first Earth Day was started by Senator Gaylord Nelson. It was his way of making concerns about the environment a national agenda. Since the government did not pass any laws to prevent toxic waste from entering our atmosphere nor dumped into the water source, this was a way to make it an issue that the entire nation is aware of. 

Nelson’s thinking worked out. The first earth day was celebrated on April 22, 1970. In December of the same year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was created. Backed by President Richard Nixon, the agency was made to fix the national guidelines and monitor them. 

Soon, legislation that vow to protect the environment followed. The Clean Air Act (1970), the Occupational Health and Safety Act (1972), the Water Pollution Control Act (1972), and the Endangered Species Act (1973) were all passed following the Environmentalism movement. 

Today, celebration of the special holiday is important because it promotes a society that highly values clean and healthy living. It serves as a conscious reminder that we can all do little things that can preserve our resources and help the Earth. 

Kylie Lam, a junior at Silver Creek high school, advises students to reduce, reuse and recycle to, “save the trees.”

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