Little Bits of History

Earth Day

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 22, 2013
Earth Day  1970

Earth Day 1970

April 22, 1970: Earth Day is first celebrated. There are two spring dates set aside to honor our planet. The UN sponsors a date at the vernal equinox, a tradition founded by John McConnell. A second date, founded by US Senator Gaylord Nelson, is celebrated worldwide on April 22. Each year, people from around the world stop and look around, noticing the fragile system we call home. They give voice to environmental issues with outreach programs to include schools, churches, and all concerned inhabitants of Mother Earth.

Nelson was an environmentalist with a passion for preservation. He was responsible for keeping many open spaces throughout the US and after 18 years in the Senate, he became counselor of The Wilderness Society where he continued to embrace environmental issues. He was concerned with sustainable populations, clean air, and conservation techniques. He was Chairman for Earth Day XXV in 1995. His last Earth Day was celebrated with his grandson, planting a tree. He died in 2005 at the age of 89.

John McConnell began a push for a day to support stewardship of Earth in the late 1960s. He wrote a Declaration of Planetary Rights “concerning the rights of all people to Earth’s land, sea, minerals, oil and other natural resources.” While the opening line suggests the Earth is for humans, the text repeatedly implores us to remain conscious of conservation of precious resources. He wrote an Earth Day Proclamation for the United Nations in 1973 and it was signed by 36 dignitaries. McConnell also wrote the 77 Theses On the Care of the Earth. He addressed this work to those “who seek to do the things about ecology, economics and ethics that foster peaceful progress on our planet.”

The theme for Earth Day 2008 was “A Call for Climate.” In 2009, we celebrated “The Green Generation” and this year, the day coincides with the World People’s Conference on Climate Change. It is the International Year of Biodiversity. Nothing is without criticism. Earth Day, claimed Alex Steffen (advocate for bright green environmentalism) has come to symbolize the pessimistic, political thinking and portrays humans in a negative light. Arbor Day which was begun in the United States in 1872, he said, was a celebration of trees – something lost to the newer movement.

“There is a sufficiency in the world for man’s need but not for man’s greed.” – Mohandas K. Gandhi

“I’m not an environmentalist. I’m an Earth warrior.” – Darryl Cherney

“I think the environment should be put in the category of our national security. Defense of our resources is just as important as defense abroad. Otherwise what is there to defend?” – Robert Redford

“I am the earth. You are the earth. The Earth is dying. You and I are murderers.” – Ymber Delecto

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: Gaylord Nelson chose the date for his celebration of Mother Earth deliberately. He felt that college students were our greatest hope for a better future and he wanted to include as many of them as possible in the plan. The dates he selected were between April 19 and 25 because students were done with Spring Break and not yet into finals or graduation worries. The theme for Earth Day 2013 is The Face of Climate Change. Their mission statement is “Climate change can seem like a remote problem for our leaders, but the fact is that it’s already impacting real people, animals, and beloved places. These Faces of Climate Change are multiplying every day. Fortunately, other Faces of Climate Change are multiplying too: those stepping up to do something about it. Together, we’ll personalize the massive challenge climate change presents by telling the world these stories through images shown at thousands of Earth Day events around the world.”

Also on this day: One Ringy-Dingy – In 2000 the UK updates the phone system.
Oklahoma Land Run – In 1889, land in Oklahoma was parceled out in a land run.
Remember the Alamo – In 1836, Santa Anna was captured.