Earth Day is a yearly celebration held on April 22. At its core, Earth Day is a celebration of Earth. But as some of the numbers below will show, Earth Day has a planet-sized scope. The holiday fosters environmental awareness, education, action, and activism to address a wide range of issues, including animal endangerment, climate change, and pollution.
Earth Day 1970: 20 Million People
An estimated 20 million people participated in the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970. Senator Gaylord Nelson, who championed environmental protection laws, came up with the idea to hold environmental teach-ins in colleges across America. The idea blossomed into Earth Day, which included teach-ins, speeches, marches, neighborhood clean-ups, and a variety of community activities.
Less than eight months after the first Earth Day, Congress authorized the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in December 1970. As the EPA explains, the first Earth Day forced environmental issues “onto the national agenda. Twenty million Americans demonstrated in different U.S. cities, and it worked!”
Earth Day 1990: 200 Million People
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the first Earth Day, organizers planned a second Earth Day on April 22, 1990. This time, it became an international event. According to Earth Day Network, over 200 million people in 141 countries celebrated the first International Earth Day.
Earth Day 2005: 8 Degrees Fahrenheit
On Earth Day 2005, actors Jake Gyllenhaal and Salma Hayek visited the Arctic Circle. According to historical weather data, the temperature in the area that day hit below eight degrees Fahrenheit. As The New York Times reported, Gyllenhaal and Hayek joined about 1,000 Canadian Intuits who used their bodies to form the words “Arctic Warning” on an ice floe. The stunt raised awareness for climate change and the melting arctic ice.
Earth Day 2011: $1 Million
As part of the Billion Acts of Green campaign leading up to Earth Day 2011, Earth Day Network reported that actor Leonardo DiCaprio pledged $1 million to World Wildlife Fund (WWF) for tiger conservation. DiCaprio joined forces with WWF to launch the website Save Tigers Now.
Earth Day 2014: 110,000 Cans
According to RVANews, artists in Virginia will try to break the Guinness World Record for the largest aluminum can sculpture by welding 110,000 cans into a “love” sculpture. The creation will use local cans collected from various drop-off spots throughout the city of Richmond. After the finished product is revealed at Earth Day Richmond, the cans will be recycled to further celebrate the spirit of Earth Day.
Earth Day 2014: 5 Websites
On April 22, 2014, NASA will be monitoring five social media sites — Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Google+, and Flickr — as they celebrate Earth Day with a Global Selfie event. As NASA explains, “On Earth Day we’re asking you to step outside and take a picture of yourself wherever you are on Earth. Then post it to social media using the hashtag #GlobalSelfie.”
The Global Selfie event is designed to raise environmental awareness as NASA expands its Earth science missions. These missions collect data to learn more about Earth’s environment and its changing climate.