Earth Day

Earth Day is an annual event on April 22 to demonstrate support for environmental protection. First held on April 22, 1970, it now includes a wide range of events coordinated globally by EarthDay.org (formerly Earth Day Network)[1] including 1 billion people in more than 193 countries.[1][2] The official theme for 2022 is Invest In Our Planet.

The “Earth Day” name

Over coffee, Hayes confided that the “teach-in” moniker was not working and asked whether Koenig had any ideas. Koenig asked for a few days. A week later, he returned with an assortment of mock-ups for ads, laid out around the announcement of “Ecology Day,” “Environment Day,” “Earth Day,” and “E Day.” Koenig said that his personal favorite was Earth Day – in part because April 22 happened to be his birthday, and “birthday” rhymes with “Earth Day.”[27] Hayes immediately agreed. Koenig offered to prepare a fully refined ad. Hayes insisted that it include a small coupon soliciting funds for the threadbare operation. Koenig’s ad was visually arresting, and perfectly summed up the issues and values, the feisty-but-welcoming tone that the campaign had adopted. Hayes loved it and decided to bet the farm. He committed about half of all the money in the campaign’s bank account to buy a full page in the Sunday New York Times opinion section.

Earth Day 1970

The seeds that grew into the first Earth Day were planted by Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson. An ardent conservationist and former two-term governor of Wisconsin, Nelson had long sought ways to increase the potency of the environment as a political issue. The extraordinary attention garnered by Rachel Carson’s book, Silent Spring, the famous 1968 Earthrise NASA photograph of the earth from the moon, the saturation news coverage given to the Santa Barbara oil spill[16] and the Cuyahoga River catching fire in early 1969[17] led Nelson to think the time was ripe for an environmental initiative. As a result of interactions with his staff and with Fred Dutton,[18] a prominent Democratic operative who had been Robert Kennedy’s presidential campaign manager, Nelson became convinced that environmental teach-ins on college campuses could serve as such a vehicle.

Earth Day 1980

The 1980 Earth Day effort was led by Mike McCabe and Byron Kennard,[51] and the general mood was festive and celebratory. The principal Washington, DC event was a festival[52] held in Lafayette Park, across the street from the White House.

Earth Day 1990 to 1999

Mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries and lifting the status of environmental issues onto the world stage, Earth Day activities in 1990 gave a huge boost to recycling efforts worldwide and helped pave the way for the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. Unlike the first Earth Day in 1970, this 20th Anniversary was waged with stronger marketing tools, greater access to television and radio, and multimillion-dollar budgets.

Earth Day 2000–2019

The April 22 Earth Day in 2000 combined the big-picture feistiness of the first Earth Day with the international grassroots activism of Earth Day 1990. For 2000, Earth Day had the internet to help link activists around the world. By the time April 22 came around, 5,000 environmental groups worldwide were on board, reaching out to hundreds of millions of people in a record 184 countries. Events varied: A talking drum chain traveled from village to village in Gabon, Africa, for example, while hundreds of thousands of people gathered on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., USA.

Earth Day 2020–2030

Earth Day 2020 was the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day. As marches and gatherings were canceled due to the COVID pandemic — including a large scale event on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. — Earth Day quickly pivoted from mobilizing millions on the ground to raising hundreds of millions of voices digitally to address urgent threats.[120][121] Over 100 million people took action in 192 countries to honor Earth Day’s 50th Anniversary in what is being referred to as the largest online mass mobilization in history.[122]

Earth Day Network and the Future Coalition organized Earth Day Live, a three-day livestream event which ran from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET on April 22, 23 and 24.[123][124] The event featured speakers from all corners of the environmental movement, youth leaders, A-list celebrities, and global voices. Pope Francis, Secretary General of the UN Antonio Guterres, mayors around the world, Sec. John Kerry, Vice President Al Gore, Ministers of the Environment from multiple countries, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Ed Markey, Prince Albert of Monaco – all joined in.[125] Governments, municipalities, and corporations made bold new commitments.[126] The event also saw performances by musicians such as Dave Matthews, Ziggy Marley, Jason Mraz, Angélique Kidjo, Emily Wells, Aimee Mann, Ted Leo, Jack Johnson, Questlove, Talib Kweli, among others.

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