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On Monday, April 22, we observe what many consider the birth of the modern day environmental movement as Americans celebrate Earth Day, 43 years later.

U.S. Sen. Gaylord Nelson [D-Wis.] came up with the idea for the very first Earth Day celebration in 1970 after witnessing the Santa Barbara, Calif., oil spill of 1969.

“He realized that if he could infuse that energy with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution, it would force environmental protection onto the national political agenda,” according to earthday.org.

Nelson launched his idea for a “national teach-in on the environment” by announcing his plans to the national media will persuading others in Washington, D.C., to support his plan.

As a result, people took to the streets, parks and auditoriums to demonstrate on behalf of protecting the earth on April 22, 1970.

The first Earth Day in 1970 attracted an estimated 20 million to celebrate.

Back then, Lake Erie was dying and sewage plants, refineries, steel plants and paper mills threatened to choke off all the other Great Lakes.

Across the country, there was a profound feeling something had to be done.

Dirty air, foul water and landscapes cluttered with debris made most Americans realize public health, and the quality of life their children would inherit, was in serious jeopardy.

The effort led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species acts.

In 1990, Earth Day went global when Denis Hayes organized another big event in the name of Mother Earth.

The movement resulted in a larger recycling effort worldwide.

Hayes organized another big event 10 years later.

Earth Day 2000 focused on global warming and clean energy again uniting people from across the globe to observe the holiday.

On the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, the effort launched its A Billion Acts of Green campaign, a goal of planting 1 million trees by 2012.

While the next big anniversary celebration is still seven years away, constant efforts bring focus back to ways to help the planet and lessen our impact on the planet.

Going green has become trendy over the last few years, and people pride themselves on finding ways to reduce, reuse and recycle.

Green, a Larson Newspapers publication, will be released Wednesday, April 24, and celebrates businesses who have adopted green practices to protect the planet.


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