By Angela Padrón
Each year, Earth Day is celebrated on April 22. The holiday was founded in 1970 by Senator Gaylord Nelson as a way to bring attention to environmental issues, especially those related to air and water pollution. Senator Nelson’s vision was to begin a grassroots movement to convince our federal government to pay more attention to environmental issues and to develop legislation to help save the planet. The efforts made by Senator Nelson during the 1970s helped to pass many important bills, including the Clean Air Act, the Water Quality Improvement Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Toxic Substances Control Act, and the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act.
Furthermore, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was created in December, 1970. This government agency protects human health and institutes governmental regulations regarding the quality of the air, water, and land on Earth. In addition, they provide grants to state environmental programs, non-profit organizations, and educational institutions for projects involving health issues and keeping the environment clean and intact. The EPA also studies environmental issues to share with other institutions and agencies and provides materials and resources to teach people about reducing energy usage and protecting the environment.
Since 1990, Earth Day has been recognized as a global holiday. In many countries, it’s known as Mother Earth Day. More than one billion people in over 160 countries participate each year, according to the Earth Day Network (EDN), a non-profit organization that coordinates Earth Day activities.
Each year, the Earth Day Network assigns a theme to Earth Day. In 2017, the Earth Day theme is “Environmental and Climate Literacy.” The goal is to educate people around the world about climate change. This way, people can be empowered with information and inspired to take action against practices that can damage the environment, including voting for politicians who will push for climate change legislation as well as green technologies and jobs.
Earth Day may only be celebrated on April 22, but as more and more people learn about environmental issues, the impact of this holiday endures throughout the entire year.