NASA Blue Marble photo of EarthIn April of 1970 the first Earth Day, a project conceived by Senator Gaylord Nelson and coordinated by Harvard University student Denis Hayes, sparked a grassroots environmental movement that has continued unabated to this day. Every April 22 citizens of over 190 countries throughout the world now take the opportunity to honor Mother Earth and renew their commitment to the environment. Coincidentally (or conspiratorially?), Earth Day also happens to be the Episcopal feast day of conservationist John Muir (and one day after his birthday), the birthday of Arbor Day founder J. Sterling Morton, and the birthday of communist leader Vladimir Lenin!

Legislation

The creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency was one of the most important outcomes of the first Earth Day. This agency was established by President Richard Nixon and Congress to repair damage done to the environment and to establish guidelines that would ensure clean water, air, and land for America.

Other landmark legislation inspired by the first Earth Day includes the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, and—a few years later—the Endangered Species Act.

Resources

EPA’s Earth Day Take Home Kit provides tips you and your family can use to protect your home and environment while celebrating Earth Day.

The UNT Libraries have provided some resources to help you identify library materials related to Earth Day:

Events

Here are some opportunities for participating in Earth Day this year. Although Earth Day officially takes place on April 22, related activities may occur on other days close to that date.

  • UNT’s Earth Week celebrations begin on April 21, 2014.
  • Denton Earth Day Events lists several environmental events and activities that are occurring in or around Denton, Texas.
  • Earth Day Texas is a free two-day outdoor festival that promotes environmental awareness and activity among residents of the north Texas area. It will take place on April 26 and 27 in Fair Park.
  • Earth Day Network coordinates Earth Day events and other activities to promote environmental awareness and action all over the world. Included on their Web site is a list of featured Earth Day Events Worldwide.
  • NASA invites you to take part in a world-wide #GlobalSelfie event. On April 22, 2014, go outside and take a selfie to show where you are on Earth Day, and NASA will compile the photos into a mosaic image of Earth built out of everyone’s photos.

Illustration: “The Blue Marble,” from NASA’s Visible Earth photo collection.

Article by Bobby Griffith.

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