What does Earth Day mean to you? Planting a tree or joining in a neighborhood cleanup? While many of us participate in Earth Day celebrations, we may not understand its historical ties to the environmental movement and its role in cultivating public demand for environmental issues.
An initial spark was Rachel Carson’s New York Times 1962 bestseller, Silent Spring, which shed light on environmental catastrophes surrounding pesticides in our waterways and the overuse of the harmful chemical DDT. Events like the Cuyahoga River Fire and the Santa Barbara Oil Spill in 1969 also raised concern and caught people’s attention. Inspired by concurrent Vietnam War-era protests, Americans began developing a voice for public consciousness, particularly within universities, that focused on land, water and air pollution. Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson managed to harness the momentum of these feelings to create federal recognition for what we now refer to as Earth Day.
The first Earth Day officially started the environmental movement with a bang. According to the Earth Day Network, "On April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies." In fact, the movement is directly responsible for the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, along with other federal agencies tasked with protecting the nation's air, water and natural resources. Today, celebrations take place in more than 184 countries, reaching hundreds of millions of people annually.
Into the future
We have the luxury of standing on the accomplishments of past generations, but we must not give up on increasing public awareness and activism. With glaciers melting around the world at alarming rates, increasing deforestation and environmental catastrophes such as the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and growing atmospheric carbon dioxide rates, the environment continues to suffer from our modern post-industrial lifestyles. However, as we learned in 1970, there is no time like the present to make a change.
CSE's mission is to accelerate the transition to a sustainable world powered by clean energy, so we strive every day to help create a cleaner, more resilient world for ourselves and future generations. This Earth Day, CSE is participating in various events to promote our cause, and we encourage you to do likewise.
Whether it's planting a tree, cleaning a park or attending a public event or local rally, please join the millions of people, both in the past and today, who have the courage to stand up for something we all have in common – our planet.
If you live in California and would like to learn about the environmental and financial benefits of an electric vehicle, visit CSE’s Clean Vehicle Rebate Project team members at one of the following Earth Day events.
Date Event Name
4/22 Greater Bakersfield Green Expo
4/22 Modesto Earth Day
4/22 Whole Earth and Watershed Festival (Redding)
4/22 Santa Barbara Earth Day Festival
4/22 Green Prize Festival (Long Beach)
4/22 Plug-in to Earth Day Festival (Lynwood)
4/23 Stockton Earth Day Festival
4/23 San Diego Earth Fair