Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Earth Day 2009

Earth Day was founded in 1970, and is seen as the birth of the modern environmental movement in America. On 22nd April 1970, 20 million Americans took to the streets to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment. By 1990, 200 million people in 141 countries were involved in a movement that claims to have helped pave the way for the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. In 2000, 5,000 environmental groups around the world took part, reaching millions of people in 184 countries.

Earth Day was devised by Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, "to shake up the political establishment and force this issue onto the national agenda. " - at a time when environmental legislation was almost non-existent and air pollution was almost considered a measure of prosperity. The first Earth Day is credited with provoking the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species acts. For his role as Earth Day founder, Senator Nelson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom - the highest civilian honour in the United States.

Earth Day is gearing up to celebrate its 40th anniversary with programme of domestic and global activities; perhaps in the Obama era Nelson's objective will finally be realised in the country where it all began.