The History of Earth Day

Samara Scott on Apr 3, 2024 10:15:21 AM

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Earth Day

It's hard to believe that before 1970, there were no regulations for polluting the environment. A time before the Clean Air Act, with dark smoky skies. A time without the Clean Water Act with dark, murky waters. A time without environmental protection and no EPA to keep the Earth clean.

The 1960’s

Around the early 1960s, Americans slowly became aware of pollution's effect on the environment. But that began to change with Rachel Carson and the publishing of her book Silent Spring in 1962. The book helped to raise public awareness about the effects we have on the environment.

In 1969, the fire of the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland shed further light on the dangers of chemical waste disposal. On June 22nd, a spark from a passing train flew into the river, causing debris on the surface to catch fire. While fires weren't uncommon for this river, this fire would reach around five stories (around 55 - 75 feet) high at its peak. Although it only took around 20 minutes to extinguish the fire, the fire brought national awareness to the risks of polluting the environment. The public outcry was so strong that they planned to have a national teach-in for the environment, becoming the first Earth Day.

The 1970's

In May 1971, a poll declared that around 25% of the general public considered environmental protection important (about a 2500% increase from 1969). Over the decade, crucial legislation environment acts were founded and passed, including the Clean Air Act, the Water Quality Improvement Act, and the Endangered Species Act.

If it weren't for Earth Day, environmental health wouldn't be anywhere as good as it is today. Although we still have a long way to go, with time we will find new ways to help protect the health of our planet and the life that resides on it.



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