April marks both the approaching end of what has been an incredible 2022-2023 school year at West Michigan Academy of Environmental Science, and the celebration of Earth Day at our campus. We are so excited to observe this day and show our support for the earth and our environment. In order to spread awareness on what Earth Day is all about at West Michigan Academy of Environmental Science, we wanted to highlight how Earth Day started, and how this celebration has gone from a Wisconsin Senator’s demonstration in 1970 to an international recognition celebrated in 192 countries.
Prior to 1970, it wouldn’t have been uncommon to see factories spew clouds of smoke into the air, or dump waste into nearby streams, since it was entirely legal. In the days before the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), there was no Clean Air Act, no Clean Water Act, and no legal grounds for the people to protect their environment from pollution.
In January of 1969, massive oil spills erupted outside of Santa Barbara, California. Inspired by the growing anti-war movement of the late 1960s, Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson took this opportunity to advocate for the environmental issues he had been fighting for in the Senate.
It wasn’t until Spring of 1970 that Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson organized a national demonstration to raise awareness about the environmental challenges facing the country. He spoke at rallies across the country and by the end of the year, the government had already formed the beginnings of what would become the EPA. Earth Day’s first celebration had put environmental concerns on the forefront of the nation.
A short 20 years later in 1990, a group of environmental leaders from across the world gathered to organize a campaign for the entire planet. The celebration was recognized by 141 nations, bringing environmental issues to a worldwide audience. At the 1992 United Nations Rio de Janeiro Summit, President Bill Clinton awarded Gaylord Nelson the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his role as Earth Day founder, and his legacy has lived on to this day!
Today, Earth Day is widely celebrated by more than a billion people every year as an opportunity to celebrate the planet. The fight for a clean environment continues today, and at West Michigan Academy of Environmental Science we recognize the importance of keeping our planet clean and healthy. Be sure to check our social media to see how we’ve celebrated this year, and visit our website for more information about all the fun happenings at West Michigan Academy of Environmental Science.