A Brief History of Earth Day

In recognition of the fact that yesterday was Earth Day, and today continues Earth Week, I thought I’d take a brief look at the celebration’s history.

Earth DayNot surprisingly, it started off with a connection to the spring equinox in the northern hemisphere. The spring equinox is traditionally considered to be a time of re-birth, renewal, and general awesomeness. It is also my birthday. Ah-hmm.

At the urging of American peace activist John McConnell, the Secretary General of the United Nations at the time, U Thant, issued a proclamation declaring March 21, 1970 to be the very first Earth Day.

In classic fashion, an American politician (US Senator Gaylord Nelson) decided March 21st would not do. He created a separate Earth Day–an environmental “teach-in” on April 22nd 1970. Though the UN still celebrates its lonely, obscure Earth Day in March, Sen. Nelson’s April date has stuck and is now celebrated in 192 countries.

Also in classic fashion, someone connected Earth Day to Vladimir Lenin’s birthday, which is celebrated on April 22. And thus was born another theory regarding the subtle communist subversion of the United States.

In a statement that is undoubtedly off message, a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution was quoted in a Time magazine article in 1970 saying, “subversive elements plan to make American children live in an environment that is good for them.”

And through the efforts of those subversive elements in the US came the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency as well as such legislation as the Clean Air Act, The Water Quality Improvement Act, and The Endangered Species Act.

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