Earth Day has been celebrated on April 22 every year since 1970. This year’s celebration marks 50 years since its inception.
The purpose of the event is to show support for environmental protection and give a voice to public consciousness about the state of our planet after decades of uncontrolled pollution. It is now celebrated in more than 193 countries!
The International Earth Day Organization’s mission is:
“To build the world’s largest environmental movement to drive transformative change for people and planet and to diversify, educate and activate the environmental movement worldwide.”
American Peace activist John McConnell proposed a day to honor the Earth while attending a UNESCO conference in San Francisco in 1969. The first Earth Day was held the subsequent year on March 21 (the first official day of spring in the northern hemisphere), after a proclamation was written by McConnell and signed by then Secretary General of the United Nations, U Thant.
A separate Earth Day was founded by United States Senator, Gaylord Nelson on April 22, 1970. This celebration of Earth Day was held mainly in the United States, until its original national coordinator, Denis Hayes decided to go international and organized events in 141 nations.
On Earth Day in 2016, the landmark Paris Agreement was signed by the United States and some 120 other countries, This signing heralded the historic draft climate protection treaty adopted by 195 nations at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris. In a disappointing turn of events for many Americans, the United States became the first major country to withdraw from the Agreement on November 4, 2019.
One of the most significant landmark years for International Earth Day came in 1990, the event’s twentieth anniversary when a huge campaign to boost recycling efforts worldwide helped pave the way for the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.
Earth Day 20 as it was called was also marked by an “International Peace Climb” of the world’s highest mountain, Everest to demonstrate support for world unity and draw attention to environmental issues. The Earth Day 20 International Peace Climb was led by Jim Whittaker, the first American to conquer the peak. Warner Bros. Records even released a chart-topping Earth Day-themed country music single in 1990 entitled “Tomorrow’s World” to celebrate Earth Day 20.
During this millennium, awareness of environmental and climate change has become ever more apparent and International Earth Day 2000 used the internet to help link activists around the world. Five thousand environmental groups came together to connect with hundreds of millions of people in a record 184 countries. Two milestone events in that year included a gathering of hundreds of thousands of people on the National Mall in Washington DC in the US and a talking drum chain which traveled from village to village in Gabon, Africa.
This year, 50th Anniversary Celebrations will include activities such as the Great Global Cleanup, Citizen Science and advocacy and educational events. The Earth Day organization’s goal this year is to educate and mobilize more than one billion people to grow and support the next generation of environmental activists. It’s time to reimagine what we can collectively do for our global environment with activities and events.
One of today’s most well-known figures promoting the spirit of International Earth Day and raising awareness about the devasting impact of pollution on climate and the environment is the young, inspirational Swedish activist, Greta Thunberg.
As this year’s heading on the International Earth Day Organization’s homepage proclaims: “You Have the Power to Change the World.”
To get involved with an International Earth Day Event near you, check out the organization’s site: https://www.earthday.org/
Written by Jon Kuykendall-Barrett, Sales Executive