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Why do we celebrate Earth Day?

Earth Day was first recognized in 1970 as a joint initiative between a Republican and Democrat in Congress.
Old growth Douglas fir trees stand along the Salmon river Trail on the Mt. Hood National Forest outside Zigzag, Ore.
Posted at 4:50 PM, Apr 21, 2023

Did you know Earth Day has been around for more than 50 years? The first Earth Day was celebrated on April 22, 1970. 

It was part of an effort spearheaded by a Democrat and a Republican. 

Democratic Sen. Gaylord Nelson and Republican Rep. Pete McCloskey reportedly took inspiration from the anti-war movement to create their own movement about protecting the planet. 

They created a national coalition that sparked protests and sit-ins on college campuses. Protesters wanted to elevate the conversation about the impacts of the industrial age, which caused serious impacts to the air and people's health. 

In the months that followed, Congress passed multiple laws, including the National Environmental Education Act and the Clean Air Act.

According to, the call to action took on even more meaning in the 1990s. That's when the movement became global, "mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries."

The organization says Earth Day is now observed by more than a billion people every year, making it the largest secular observance in the world.

The observation of Earth Day has led to hundreds of millions of trees being planted to counter the effects of deforestation.

Last year, President Biden signed an executive order on the nation's commitment to environmental justice. 

"Restoring and protecting a healthy environment — wherever people live, play, work, learn, grow, and worship — is a matter of justice and a fundamental duty that the Federal Government must uphold on behalf of all people," Biden stated.