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A Brief History of Earth Day and Environmental Awareness
A collaboration of the CSUEB Office of Sustainability and the University Libraries
1962 - Rachael Carson’s Best-Selling Book, Silent Spring, raises public awareness about man-made dangers, such as pesticides, to the environment.
1969 - A Massive Oil Spill in Santa Barbara, California in January and February, inspires U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson to channel public outrage and concern, with 20 million Americans participating in an environmental teach-in on April 22.
1969 - Cleveland Ohio’s Cuyahoga River catches fire due to an oil slick, and the resulting national news coverage catches the public imagination about the dangers of industrial waste and other environmental hazards.
1970 - The First Earth Day on April 22nd involves 20 million Americans, who cut across political and economic lines, as the message about man-made perils to the environment resonate more and more with the public.
1970 - Natural Resources Defense Council is founded. The NRDC is an advocacy group that today boasts over 1 million members, and several hundred scientists, lawyers and other professionals in major cities in the U.S. and Beijing, China.
1970 - Environmental Protection Agency is created to protect human health and the natural environment. The EPA is designed to provide the government with a tool to directly address environmental threats for the first time in history.
1971 - Greenpeace is founded. The now-famous environmental activist organization campaigns against whaling, nuclear power, global warming and other issues. Today, it has offices in 40 countries, world-wide.
1972 - Clean Water Act is passed by Congress. It limits pollutants in the nation’s waterways.
1973 - Endangered Species Act is passed by Congress to safeguard animal species and their ecosystems.
1986 - Chernobyl nuclear disaster in the Ukrainian SSR is a level 7 catastrophic explosion and fire that releases large quantities of radioactive particles over western USSR and Europe.
1989 - The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill off the coast of Alaska once again puts environmental issues in the news for many months, emphasizing for all the role of humans, and the choices they must make to protect the planet.
1990 - Earth Day Goes Global with 200 million people worldwide in over 140 countries. Run by original Earth Day organizer Denis Hayes, it successfully promotes worldwide recycling efforts, and leads to the UN Earth Summit in 1992.
2000 - 30th Anniversary of Earth Day draws participants in the hundreds of millions from 184 countries to focus on the theme of “clean energy.”
2010 - 40th Anniversary of Earth Day witnesses 225,000 people participating in a Climate Rally on the National Mall in Washington D.C.; it reestablishes Earth Day as a focus around which people can show their commitment to the environment.
Today - The CSUEB Office of Sustainability invites you to celebrate Earth Week. For more details, including a calendar of campus events, visit: http://www20.csueastbay.edu/oaa/sustaineb/index.html
As noted on the EarthDay.org web site:
“The possibilities for getting involved are endless! Volunteer. Go to a festival. Install solar panels on your roof. Organize an event in your community. Change a habit. Help launch a community garden. Communicate your priorities to your elected representatives. Do something nice for the Earth, have fun, meet new people, and make a difference. But you needn't wait for April 22! Earth Day is Every Day. To build a better future, we all must commit to protect our environment year-round.”