Our planet is truly a magnificent place. Known as the Blue Planet due to its abundance of water, the Earth is an incredibly complex and vibrant ecosystem, where living organisms interact with each other and their environment to create the ideal conditions for life. We have it all: it’s warm but not too warm, lots of water but again, not too much. It’s perfect. And it’s in trouble.
Which brings us to Earth Day.
In this day and age of instant information, we are finally beginning to understand the consequences of our actions and the impact they are having on our world and our survivability as a species. Wherever you look, nature is under assault and if we don’t take steps now to try and repair the damage, there might not be much of a world left for our children to pass onto theirs.
Did You Know:
- Rainforests once covered 14% of the earth’s land surface; now it’s only 6% and experts estimate that the last remaining rainforests could be consumed in less than 40 years.
- Experts estimate we are losing 137 plant, animal and insect species every single day.
- Every year, U.S. factories release over 3 million tons of toxic chemicals into the land, air and water.
Earth Day is important. It educates us about what we have and what we are losing by acting in ways that aren’t environmentally friendly or energy efficient. Earth Day reminds us that we need to take action now to protect our environment before it’s too late.
How Did Earth Day Begin?
The first one took place on April 22, 1970 and was launched by the trio of U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson (of Wisconsin), Harvard student Denis Hayes and a well-known Eco-activist named Paul Erlich, as a call to global environmental awareness. Although it started in the United States, Earth Day has since blossomed into an international celebration of our planet, observed by nearly 175 countries worldwide.
What Has Earth Day Accomplished?
Without it, some landmark accomplishments might never have happened, such as:
- The establishment of Environmental Protection Agency in 1970
- The Clean Air Act of 1970
- The Clean Water Act of 1972
- The Endangered Species Act of 1973
- The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976
- The Federal Occupational Health and Safety Act aimed at “in-plant pollution”
What’s Happened Since Then?
Quite a lot, actually. Thanks to succeeding Earth Days, people have become more aware of the role that the environment plays in helping sustain life in this fragile world of ours and that we need to take an active role in protecting it. For instance, since that very first Earth Day in 1970, we now:
- Practice recycling, which was nearly non-existent 40 years ago
- Have alternative, energy efficient forms of energy, such as CFL light bulbs
- In 1975, catalytic convertors became mandatory for all cars in the U.S.; and now we have hybrids and the first electric cars
- SO2 emissions have dropped by 40%; acid rain levels in the U.S. have decreased by 65% since 1976
- Depletion of the ozone layer has been controlled
These are just a few examples of what can be done and in 2010, the Earth Day Network, which is the organization responsible for holding the annual Earth Day events at the National Mall, began their campaign for A Billion Acts of Green®, whereby participants could register an Act of Green (Eco-friendly action), such as doing cold water laundry or riding a bike instead of driving. The goal was to register 1 billion of these actions by 2012.
This goal was achieved this year.
So why is Earth Day important? Watch your kids playing ball in the park; go for a walk in the woods with your dog. Or simply stand in the backyard and fill your lungs with fresh air until they’re fit to burst.
That’s why Earth Day is important.