50 Years of Earth Day


Madison Auleman, Staff Writer

On Wednesday, April 20 the United States will be celebrating its 50th Annual Earth Day! The very first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970. The 1970s can be considered the decade that birthed the modern environmentalism movement. Leading up to 1970, America was increasing their pesticide and harmful chemical use, but didn’t understand the true danger. The truths that needed to be heard about their terrible effect on the environment was spread by authors and environmentalists such as Rachel Carson. Carson was the author of Silent Spring that warned Americans of the harmful chemicals that they were using as pesticides on their agricultural products. One of the chemicals that was highlighted in her writing was DDT, which was later banned in America to be used in agriculture. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) came from this same movement and was officially founded in 1970.

Multiple acts were put into place in America in the 1970s such as the Clean Air Act, Endangered Species Act, Montreal Protocol, and the Clean Water Act. These are just a few that can be considered the beginning of the fight to protect our planet. Over the 50 years since Earth Day first began, there have been countless protests, marches, and organizations devoted to spreading awareness about the state of our planet. 

Earth Day was founded by Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin. Nelson saw the disaster that was created from an oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. This national attention that was focused on the environment for a small amount of time caused Nelson to want to spread awareness. Senator Nelson, Congressman Pete McCloskey, and activist Denis Hayes scheduled a teach-in on different college campuses for April 22. As the efforts grew, more groups and organizations were included and the cause gained national media attention. The air and water pollution awareness event was officially changed to Earth Day in 1970.

Earth Day is the day to celebrate all of the triumphs we have had when it comes to our improvement on the protection of our planet. Find a way to celebrate this Earth Day in the midst of these difficult times. There have been improvements in the environment since the start of the quarantines, and maybe this is a gift to use this time to admire the beauty of nature. Use this time to learn how you can start respecting our planet more. Have a happy Earth Day!