World Earth Day is celebrated annually worldwide on April 22. It marks the beginning of the modern environmental movement in 1970. The theme for World Earth Day 2022 is “Invest in Our Planet”, which highlights Environmental Social Governance (ESG) as an essential criterion for evaluating activities that affect human health or the environment.
In this blog, we will cover all the details regarding the history, significance, timeline and impact of World Earth Day.
World Earth Day: Brief History
- The first Earth Day was observed in 1970, when people in the United States and across the world began to realize the impact of environmental harm that human beings have caused and continue to cause. Air pollution and Water pollution was the norm prior to 1970.
- However, the publishing of Silent Spring by Rachel Carson in 1962 brought about the much needed attention to the environmental issues by outlining the effects of pesticides such as DDT. This book explained the link between public health and pollution.
- Moreover, the oil slick fire on Cleveland’s Cuyahoga River in 1969 also brought about a lot of public attention. This highlighted the immediate call to action with respect to climate change.
Timeline of the First Earth Day
Impact of the First Earth Day
- 25% of Americans realised the importance of protecting the environment just a year after the first Earth Day.
- Many national environmental policies and laws were passed-
- The Water Quality Improvement Act
- The Endangered Species Act
- The Toxic Substances Control Act
- The Surface Mining Control & Reclamation Act
- The Clean Air Act
- The Environmental Protection Agency was set up in 1970 after the first Earth Day celebration.
- In 1990, Earth Day became a global phenomenon by mobilising 200 million people in 141 countries.
- The US, the UK, China and 120 other countries signed the landmark Paris Agreement on World Earth Day 2016, which was adopted by the consensus of the 195 countries present at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris in 2015.
- During the Earth Day week, many communities engage in activities that focus on environmental issues faced by humankind.
- On Earth Day 2020 (50th Anniversary), around 100 million people across the world celebrated the World Earth Day. This event is now referred to as the largest online mass mobilisation in history.
Significance of World Earth Day
Although protecting the Earth has been a constant theme of Earth Day, the call for action has become more urgent year after year. In August 2021, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report was published. This latest report was so distressing that António Guterres, the United Nations Secretary-General termed it “a code red for humanity.”
Therefore, the fight for a clean environment needs to continue with increasing urgency, as the impact of climate change becomes more and more noticeable every day.
At present, Earth Day is recognized as the largest secular celebration in the world. More than a billion people participate every year on this day to change human behaviour and create global, national and local policy changes. As the awareness about climate change grows, so does the demand for greater action for the planet and its people. The generation of young people are taking to the streets by millions to demand a new and sustainable way forward. A positive role has also been played by social media in bringing awareness, conversations, protests and strikes across the world to bring attention to the climate crisis.
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