April 22, 1970 marked the first Earth Day in the United States. The decades prior saw clouds of black smoke, toxic waste flowing in our waterways, and land degradation. The Environmental Protection Agency did not exist yet, but a storm of events brought the earth to the nation's attention.
Rachel Carson published her New York Times Bestseller Silent Spring in 1962. She raised public concern for the environment and its interconnection with human health.
In January 1969, one of the largest oil spills in the U.S. covered Santa Barbara, California.
Five months later, oil-covered debris on the Cuyahoga River in Ohio caught fire.
Seeing these urgent issues, Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin took action. He proposed teach-ins on college campuses because he witnessed students' power and energy in the anti-war movement.
Senator Nelson convinced Congressman Pete McCloskey of California to serve as his co-chair, and their bipartisan efforts made an impact. They picked Wednesday, April 22 to encourage student participation on a weekday after spring break and before final exams.
After the first Earth Day, President Richard M. Nixon and Congress committed to improving the environment through legislation that governed the protection of the air, water, wildlife, and the wilderness. As a result, three landmark laws passed: the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act. This year, over 190 countries will work with EarthDay.org to celebrate and protect our planet. Awareness campaigns and educational resources make a difference!
Caring for the Earth includes caring for the soil. We can make an impact by using the four core principles of soil health management where we live, play, and work.