In 1964, twelve young men in New York publicly burned their draft cards in protest. The many forceful displays against the Vietnam War are well remembered, but what is less remembered is how these commanding displays and the spirit of the era created the energy that led to the first Earth Day witnessed in the US.
Cleverly combining the energy of the anti-war movement and the rising environmental consciousness following Rachel Carson’s publication of Silent Spring, Earth Day founder Gaylor Nelson created a momentous crusade with incredible effects. On April 22 1970, 20 million Americans, of all backgrounds, fought for change–for a healthy, sustainable environment. This initial event led to the creation of the US EPA and the passing of the Clean Water, Clean Air, and Endangered Species Acts.
Fast forward to 2012- Earth Day’s 42 anniversary. More than one billion people in 192 countries took part in the 42nd Anniversary of Earth Day. From Paris to Beijing, Rio to Rome, Cairo to St. Louis, citizens everywhere united in their effort to protect the Earth.
So now here we are, approaching our 43rd Earth Day! We should take the time to not only celebrate and attend outdoor festivals and events, but instead reflect on the success of the movement. The history of the successful movement is one that should be studied and used for future initiatives.