By Katherine Berezowskyj
This year, environmental conservation and activism will celebrate a major land mark, the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. Developed and promoted by Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson, the first Earth Day held on April 22, 1970 marked an important turning point for the growing ecological crises.
As a grassroots effort, this was a movement to give more attention to the environment and what was taking place. It is estimated that nearly 20 million Americans joined in the first Earth Day, and now millions of people worldwide participate each year.
As Sen. Nelson said in his speech on the first Earth Day celebration in 1970, “Earth Day is dramatic evidence of a broad new national concern that cuts across generations and ideologies. It may be symbolic of a new communication between young and old about our values and priorities.”
Even with all of the environmental progress and awareness that has developed since this first call to action, his words are still relevant to the issues that we face today:
“Our goal is a new American ethic that sets new standards for progress, emphasizing human dignity and well being rather than an endless parade of technology that produces more gadgets, more waste, more pollution.
Are we able to meet the challenge? Yes. We have the technology and the resources.
Are we willing? That is the unanswered question.”
A complete history of the Earth Day and more information on Sen. Nelson are available here.