Celebrating Earth Day
This Sunday, April 22, the world celebrates Earth Day! Over 175 countries around the world will join to spread awareness and appreciation of the Earth’s natural environment. Together these countries are working to build a clean and healthier world for generations to come. It’s around this time of year that everyone becomes a little more motivated to do their part in helping the environment. Let’s take a closer look at the history of Earth Day and learn more about some notable environmental figures!
A Brief History of Earth Day
After witnessing the destruction of the 1969 Santa Barbara, California oil spill, U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson, inspired by the anti-war movement and student protests, called for an environmental teach-in to bring awareness of air and water pollution to public consciousness. On April 22, 1970, about 200 million Americans participated across the country, helping to launch environmental issues into the national political agenda. Nelson’s teach-in event signaled the beginning of the modern environmentalist movement. Over the years, Earth Day has grown into a global event and is observed by more than 500 million people worldwide.
Leading Environmental Figures
In honor of Earth Day, let’s take a closer look at some of the leading environmentalists from early pioneers to today’s green celebrities. These individuals fought for the protection of the environment and brought these environmental issues to the attention of the national public.
Although Nelson’s stance may have been the trigger of today’s environmental movement, it doesn’t mean he was the first in history to advocate environmental awareness and preservation. One of the first significant environmentalist was English social reformer Octavia Hill. Hill was one of the first to bring together social reform and environmental protection. She was a co-founder of the National Trust, the conservationist organization in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Throughout her career, Hill worked closely in the preservation of open spaces.
Marine biologists and conservationist Rachel Carson made great strides in advancing the global environmental movement. Her book, Silent Spring, brought to the public eye the environmental problems caused by synthetic pesticides. The book caught the attention of the nation, leading to a reversal in national pesticide policy. It ultimately spawned a grassroots environmental movement that led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency.
Perhaps one of the most notable environmental figures today is former Vice President Al Gore. His highly popular and award-winning documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, brought global awareness to our changing climate and educated the masses about the effects of global warming. Gore is credited with re-energizing the environmental movement. In 2007, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his tireless environmental activism.
And of course, no other actor may scream “green” more than Leonardo DiCaprio. In 1998, DiCaprio established the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation to support efforts to secure a sustainable future for our planet. He has passionately advocated green policies and changes to help reverse the destruction of the environment. DiCaprio even produced and narrated the documentary, The 11th Hour, where he highlighted the negative role humans have played in Earth’s climate and environmental changes.
To learn more about notable environmentalists throughout the world, check out the Environmentalist project on Geni. You might even find yourself related to these environmentalists! Share with us your plans for Earth Day in the comments below!