Celebrated every year on April 22, the global day of environmental action is thought to be the largest secular observance in the world.

Each Earth Day, individuals and organisations from across the globe participate in action intended to world towards a healthier environment for future generations.

When did Earth Day get started?

The celebration marks the anniversary of the birth of the environmental movement in 1970.

Modern environmentalism is largely credited as starting with the publication of Rachel Carson’s bestselling book Silent Spring – documented the effects of the indiscriminate use of pesticides – in 1962.

After selling 500,000 copies in 24 countries, the book sparked a growing public awareness of environmental matters that crystallised in the first Earth Day. The initial concept came to US senator Gaylord Nelson after witnessing the impact of a massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California.

Nelson wanted to channel the energy of the anti-war movement into action for the environment, and this culminated in 20 million Americans taking to the streets to demonstrate for a environment.

What has Earth Day achieved over the years?

The first Earth Day united Americans from across the political spectrum, and within a year the action had led to the formation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, as well as the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts.

Earth Day 1990 was credited with giving a significant boost to recycling efforts worldwide, paved the way for the 1992 UN Earth Summit


At another milestone, Earth Day 2000 chose to address the growing issue of global warming and the switch to clean energy sources. For the 40th anniversary of Earth Day in 2010, the network behind the celebration launched a campaign to plant one billion trees, a target that was achieved in 2012.

In 2016, leaders from 175 countries used Earth Day as the backdrop for signing the historic Paris climate agreement, which aims to stop the planet from warming 2C above pre-industrial levels

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