Every year on April 22, Earth Day marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970.
As we prepare to mark 50 years of Earth Day in 2020, let’s take a look at the last half-century of mobilization for action:
Earth Day 1970 gave a voice to an emerging public consciousness about the state of our planet —
In the decades leading up to the first Earth Day, Americans were consuming vast amounts of leaded gas through massive and inefficient automobiles. Industry belched out smoke and sludge with little fear of the consequences from either the law or bad press. Air pollution was commonly accepted as the smell of prosperity. Until this point, mainstream America remained largely oblivious to environmental concerns and how a polluted environment threatens human health.
However, the stage was set for change with the publication of Rachel Carson’s New York Times bestseller Silent Spring in 1962. The book represented a watershed moment, selling more than 500,000 copies in 24 countries as it raised public awareness and concern for living organisms, the environment and the inextricable links between pollution and public health.
Earth Day 1970 would come to provide a voice to this emerging environmental consciousness, and putting environmental concerns on the front page.