Earth day became a National day from Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin. Founded in 1970, Senator Nelson was inspired after witnessing the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. Following the anti-war movement, Senator Nelson thought that he could bring this to colleges across America with campus teach-ins. Working with Pete McCloskey, a Republican Congressman as co-chair they recruited Harvard student Denis Hayes. Denis Hayes was very interested in what Senator Nelson had in mind for the environment that he directly went to interview Senator Nelson and from the interview, Denis Hayes became the national coordinator building a staff of 85 to promote events, selecting April 22nd as the Earth Day date because it fell between spring break and final exams.
On April 22nd, 1970 over 20 million Americans were lead to streets, parks and large gatherings to demonstrate the need to for a healthy and sustainable environment. Earth Day received such support from both the Republicans and the Democrats that by the end of the first year (1970) the government created the Environmental Protection Agency, Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Acts. By 1990 Earth day became global with more than 200 million people in over 141 countries involved with environmental issues taking the world stage. Recycling efforts became more global leading to the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit. Senator Nelson received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1995 for his contribution of Earth Day.
Now, Earth day is celebrated by more than a billion people ever year. What can you do on Earth Day, April 22nd, 2017?