History of Earth Day

History of Earth Day

What is Earth Day? Well, you can probably guess what this day is about – if not you might want to do a search or even better, read this article! Earth day started in the 1970s. Back then no one thought much about air pollution or about polluting water. Most people just were not aware that the toll of air and water pollution would be so horrible for the earth. Earth Day was established to create awareness about the environmental damage that humans were causing.  This approach worked because it brought important national acts in the following years. Some of these acts were The Clean Air Act, The Toxic Substance Control Act, and The Quality of Water Act, among others.

Senator Nelson, Founder of Earth Day

Earth Day is our reminder that we need to take care of the land we are given. Senator Gaylord Anton Nelson (June 4, 1916 – July 3, 2005) was an American politician and environmentalist from Wisconsin who served as a United States Senator and governor. He was a member of the Democratic Party and the founder of Earth Day. This day launched a new wave of environmental activism. He is the person who helped get this holiday ratified (made official).  He asserted, “Our goal is not just an environment of clean air and water and scenic beauty. The objective is, an environment of decency, quality, and mutual respect for all other human beings and all other living creatures.”

You might be asking, “How in the world does being conscious of the environment equal being respectful to humans and other living creatures?” Just think about it; if we were to continue the path they were on, we would have no clean water, no clean air to breathe, no produce to eat, and no land to cultivate crops, and that is a problem. What’s sad is that a lot of native people who lived close to the land,  realized this problem, including the Hawaiians. Our state motto is literally, Ua Mau Ke Ea o ka ‘Āina I ka Pono. If you don’t speak Hawaiian, here is the translation; “The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness.” Meaning that the land is what gives life and if we don’t take care of that then there is no life left to live.  Taking care of the land is righteousness. It is the right thing to do.

Maybe you’re thinking something like, “We have water everywhere”, or “I can breathe fine right now” but did you know that only 2.5% of the Earth’s water is freshwater and therefore okay for drinking? Did you know that the amount of carbon going into the air is the reason that global warming is happening? Carbon builds in the atmosphere and traps in the heat waves we get from the sun and this causes global warming and climate change. So to put it simply the world is becoming a giant oven.  In addition,  heat rises; which means that eventually, the water will turn to vapor (steam)  and the earth will become desolate and a desert.

Being aware of what is happening in our environment is necessary and not to bring fear; don’t go home to your parents and tell them the world is ending, that we’re running out of water and there’s no clean air anymore because we can all do our part and we have a lot of people who care a whole lot about humanity and the earth who are coming up with solutions.

Earth Day has become an important way to educate people and help create a shift in our attitudes. So this Earth Day, think about what you can do to help the earth, remember the land will take care of us if we take care of it. It doesn’t have to be something that solves global warming, it can be something as small as recycling a bottle, or picking up a piece of rubbish that’s lying on the ground. Also, make time this Earth Day to look up from your phones and video games and appreciate the earth’s beauty. I think you’ll be amazed by what you see.