An ode to Earth Day
Earth Day: a day on which we as a society pause to reflect on the climate, biodiversity and our relationship with the earth. In recent years there has been a lot of attention for initiatives that contribute to solving the climate crisis. Therefore we look back briefly at the origins of Earth Day.
The first Earth Day has been some time ago. On April 22, 1970, the very first Earth Day was celebrated in America. Twenty million Americans, at the time an impressive 10% of the entire U.S. population, took to the streets to draw attention to environmental issues. At the time, the climate movement was mainly embraced by ‘hippies’ and students. The famous music festival Woodstock took place a few months before the first Earth Day. For many people, both are symbols of the quest for freedom and a better world.
Within a few years after its establishment in America, the movement around Earth Day brought about a number of important milestones. Within three years, treaties were signed on clean water, clean air and the protection of endangered species. The Environmental Protection Agency was also established.
In the year 2021, the climate movement has taken on a completely different face. Nowadays it’s not just people barefoot with flowers in their hair who are taking to the streets for a better environment. Meanwhile, climate activists come from all corners of society and large companies are also fully engaged in sustainability. In 2016, Earth Day was chosen as the moment to sign the Paris Climate Agreement, a document that includes the signatures of no less than 190 world leaders.
Even five decades later, reducing CO2 emissions and protecting biodiversity are still major challenges that are addressed on a daily basis worldwide. Yet 51 years of Earth Day has provided a range of solutions. For example, in education attention is paid to the climate, campaigns have been launched to stop plastic pollution, and worldwide research is conducted into innovative solutions. But the greatest effect of Earth Day? Creating awareness and commitment. By 2020, the message reached some 9.9 billion people worldwide, and people in 180 countries participated in major clean-up efforts.