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The 50th anniversary of Earth Day

For the last 50 years, April 22nd has been known as Earth Day. This global initiative aims to diversify, educate and activate the environmental movement worldwide. It was primarily aimed at students but now has spread to all kinds of people all over the world. But how much has it really achieved in the last 50 years?

History

Up until the late 20th century, the majority of people were oblivious to the environmental threats posed by their actions. With single-use plastics on the rise as well as an increasing amount of cars on the roads, the climate was beginning to suffer.  After an oil spill in January 1969, US Senator Gaylord Nelson decided something must be done. He wanted to educate the youth especially and therefore chose a date that was just before exam finals. As soon as “Earth Day” was announced,  it attracted widespread media attention and 20 million Americans took to the streets for the very first one in 1970. This group of people made up 10% of the US  population at the time, indicating a widespread interest in protecting the planet.  Although the principles weren’t set out as clearly as they are now, it allowed for like-minded groups to come together and spread awareness which was already a step in the right direction. 

As soon as “Earth Day” was announced,  it attracted widespread media attention and 20 million Americans took to the streets for the very first one in 1970.

Going global

By 1990, Earth Day was global. Following the great success in America, the movement gradually spread to the rest of the world. By then, it had reached 141 countries that were trying to improve their policies and educate their people to help fight the climate crisis. This led to a number of recycling programmes worldwide and eventually to the United Nations Earth Summit in 1992.

Now, Earth Day has over 75,000 partners in over 190 countries that all share the same mission, to save our planet.  This is now thought to be the largest secular observance in the world with over 1 billion people taking part every year. Their main aim is to educate people about our environment and the issues that it faces. The movement also helps countries implement new policies to tackle the climate crisis. With the global temperatures rapidly increasing, it is crucial to continue on this journey. The more people that get involved, the more potential there is. 

Now, Earth Day has over 75,000 partners in over 190 countries that all share the same mission, to save our planet

Achievements 

The very first Earth day in 1970 was already a success in terms of achievements. It led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency as well as acts to protect endangered species, clean air and clean water. This all began in the US, but of course it is now global. 

Earth Day 1990 created recycling programmes worldwide. Another key Earth Day was in 2000, with its main focus being global warming. This  resulted in many countries beginning to use cleaner energy sources such as solar or wind power. In 2010, the event created a goal of planting 1 billion trees worldwide. This was achieved by 2012, just 2 years later. 

These are just some of the well-known successes of the movement. They have achieved so much and with every year, there are more countries and people taking part. 

Earth Day should inspire populations to think of the planet 365 days a year, ensuring that they educate themselves and encourage positive action

Is it enough?

Whilst the results of Earth Day are certainly noticeable every year, many argue that it simply isn’t enough.  Given the current state of our planet, the matter is much more urgent. With many more people implementing small changes into their daily life, progress is definitely being made. However, I believe that whilst Earth Day is an incredible movement, it shouldn’t be relied upon solely. Earth Day should inspire populations to think of the planet 365 days a year, ensuring that they educate themselves and encourage positive action.

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