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CONVERGE | Community

Celebrating Earth Day's 50th Anniversary

April 22, 2020

Learn what Earth Day is all about and how you can celebrate this year.

 

Changing the world, making an impact and saving the planet—this is Earth Day. Year after year, millions of people across the globe have rallied together to educate and advocate for the preservation of our natural resources. While this year’s celebrations look a little different, typically Earth Day events and entertainment take place in nearly every city across the U.S. and many destinations abroad. Here’s everything to know about Earth Day and the semicentennial celebration.

 

Promising Beginnings

 

Founded in 1970 by Senator Gaylord Nelson, Earth Day was created to teach Americans about the increasing problems of pollution, climate change and overpopulation. It began in the height of the anti-Vietnam War “teach-ins,” which granted students a stage for voicing opinions on political issues. After Nelson introduced the idea for Earth Day at a conference in Seattle, his message spread like wildlife through telegrams, letters and phone calls. From Tulane to Stanford and universities in between, millions of students heard his concept and gathered together to celebrate the very first Earth Day on April 22, 1970.

 

Earth Day Evolves

 

Over the past 50 years, the momentum has only grown, inspiring new organizations and laws to emerge, including:

 

  • The Natural Resources Defense Council in 1970. 
  • The Environmental Protection Agency in 1970. 
  • The Clean Water Act in 1972. 
  • The Endangered Species Act in 1973. 

 

Since the 1970s, Earth Day has reached international lands—like Tokyo and Spain—and has prompted some of the biggest celebrations around the globe. Prior to the Coronavirus, Barcelona typically hosts the Earth Day Market and Fair, Vancouver puts on the Earth Day Parade and Festival, and Rome constructs the Earth Village, also known as the Villaggio per la Terra.

 

Even in the U.S., celebrations have expanded over the years. Typically, Austin hosts an all-day affair filled with bike demos, fitness classes and environmental discussions. New York City holds a guided 5K Green Tour through the city, highlighting eco-friendly spots like the living green wall and the High Line rooftop garden. Even in Madison, Wisconsin, residents band together for a city-wide park clean-up followed by an Earth Day conference held at the local university.

 

Earth Day Achievements

 

Some of the greatest accomplishments of this movement have occurred right here in the U.S. According to the Earth Day Network, the movement has:

 

  • Registered more than one million environmental voters.  
  • Created the largest environmental campaign in the world, Billion Acts of Green. 
  • Planted tens of millions of trees across 32 countries as a part of The Canopy Project. 
  • Sparked a call for action on climate by Pope Francis.  
  • Provided over seven billion dollars in grants to low-income schools in the U.S. 

 

Commemorating History

 

This year, join in celebrating the 50th anniversary of Earth Day right from home with Live TV specials from some of your favorite networks. Catch two world premiere specials from National Geographic, including Born Wild: Earth Day Live as well as Jane Goodall: The Hope. From your TV, web browser or mobile device, you can also watch reruns of PBS films like Wilderness: The Great Debate or exclusive web series like How Does It Grow? 

 

Happy Earth Day!

 

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