Earth Day History and Facts from Around the World

In case you might be asking yourself, Earth Day is a very real event and now a global celebration. First incepted back in 1970, this special occasion is dedicated to raising awareness of the environment and the relationship between the human race and every other species on earth. In other words, Earth Day is a reminder that for everything we do on this planet, we must also realize that our actions have an impact on every other inhabitant on earth which has just as much right to life as we do.

Although 1970 was an incredibly creative year in America, it was also a period when pollution was just as common as the talented musicians coming through. Around this time, a major oil spill in Santa Barbara prompted a US Senator named Gaylord Nelson to propose a national effort to increase Americans awareness of their impact on the environment. Hence, Earth Day was born.

With this in mind, here are twenty facts about the history and meaning of Earth Day:

17 Facts and Information about the Evolution of Earth Day

  1. The Beginning of Earth Day

The very first Earth Day took place on 22nd April 1970 and consisted of a series of events which coincided with Spring Break. At this time, many universities and colleges led the way by organizing protests against ignorance to the environment while more than 20 million Americans also took to the streets, parks and major centers to promote a more sustainable environment.

  1. Earth Day first day

On the very first Earth Day, the mayor of New York City shut down Fifth Avenue and the adjoining streets. Furthermore, the entirety of Central Park was designated as the main center for Earth Day festivities. At this time, locals took to cleaning the streets, signing petitions and protesting in the name of saving the environment from harm.

  1. Earth Day is now Global

Earth Day was initially confined to America, but there are now 184 nations which celebrate the event every year. As a matter of fact, in recent decades, thousands of organizations have also pledged their time, money and support to this important cause.

  1. “Earth day” is Also Known As…

In 2009, the United Nations decided to rename this annual celebration as “International Mother Earth Day” to better represent the many nations and cultures around the world. However, in America, this holiday is still known as “Earth Day.”

  1. Earth Day has visited the Moon

When Apollo 14 landed on the moon in 1971, one of the lead astronauts brought hundreds of seeds from various trees including redwood, sycamore and pine trees. Incredibly, these seeds would go on the orbit the moon 34 times in a space module known as “Kitty Hawk.”

  1. 2020 and the 50th Anniversary

As you might expect, big plans are being put in place for the upcoming 50th anniversary and the Earth Day Network have launched a list of goals to secure the future of the environment. In this respect, a new theme is announced every year on which the communities are requested to pay special attention.

  1. Earth Day in 2018

As already mentioned, there is now a specific theme every year and plastic is the focus for 2018. As you may know, plastic injures and poisons marine life every day and litters the beautiful landscapes around us. Furthermore, the toxins from this material are especially harmful, and many countries are committed to eradicating any need for the use of plastic.

  1. Mother Earth Day in China

One of the more ambitious events in recent years took place in China, where more than one hundred thousand locals took to the streets on bicycles as a commitment to reduce the amount of CO2 emissions from vehicles.

  1. Afghanistan and the Middle East

Earth Day is celebrated far and wide as seen in Afghanistan deep in the heart of the Middle East. Back in 2001, Afghanistan planted more than 28 million trees across the nation to celebrate Mother Earth Day.

  1. Panama and Central America

On the other hand, in Central America, Panama celebrated Earth Day by planting over one hundred different species of orchids to prevent them from going into extinction.

  1. Impact on Plants and Forests

Scientific studies have shown that rainforests once accounted for more than 14% of the global land surface. However, this figure is now closer to 6%, and some experts insist that rainforests could even disappear within the next 50 years. Furthermore, similar studies have shown that more than 130 plants, insect, and animal species are disappearing on a daily basis around the world. 

  1. 3 Million Harmful Toxins

Factories in the United States are responsible for the release of over 3 million tons of harmful chemicals on an annual basis. In many cases, these toxins are released into the air, but they also lie wasting on land and in waterways throughout the nation.

  1. Earth Day Accomplishments

At the same time, Earth Day has made excellent progress, and many vital acts and landmarks have been established since 1970. For example, the Clear-Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, and the Environmental Protection Agency are all still standing to this day.

  1. 40 Years of Recycling

More than 300 million tons of plastic are produced on an annual basis around the world. While this statistic is no less than shocking, it must also be known that progress is still in effect when it comes to the reduction of this plastic. After all, there was no such thing as plastic recycling as little as 40 years ago.

  1. Reduced Emissions

Catalytic convertors were made mandatory for all vehicles in the United States back in 1975. In case you might be wondering, this has helped to reduce SO2 emissions by more than 40%. Moreover, levels of acid rain have also reduced by an incredible 65% since the inception of these laws.

  1. Earth Day was Initially Criticized

In the beginning, Earth Day was strongly opposed by many conservative groups including the John Birch Society. Incredibly, some of these organizations accused the organizers of Earth Day of honoring the birthday of Russian communist Vladimir Lenin. In other instances, organizations believed that Earth Day was intended as a distraction from the more pressing or essential issues in the world.

  1. How Can You Get Involved and Celebrate Earth Day?

Whether you spend a day in the park, go hiking a mountain trail, pick up litter in the streets or even talk to friends about the importance of this event; Earth Day is easy to celebrate and an opportunity to show gratitude for the beautiful world around us.

Earth Day Resources

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How will you celebrate Earth Day and what do you think should be the focus for the next theme in 2019? Leave your thoughts and ideas in the comments section below.  We would love to hear them.

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Irene Reardon

Irene holds a Bachelor of Science (Applied Psychology), and Certificate in TESOL and a Certificate in the Teaching of Children with Dyslexia. Fifteen years experience in developing education programs and resources for Early Childhood and Primary Educators.

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