In which year was Earth Day first celebrated in the United States?
And the answer: 1970.
Inspired by the student anti-war protests of the 1960s, Senator Gaylord Nelson founded Earth Day on April 22nd, 1970 to raise awareness about environmental issues and transform public attitudes. It was later also adopted by the United Nations with the name International Mother Earth Day.
In July 1970, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was established in response to the growing public demand for cleaner water, air, and land. Largely inspired by the recent rise in climate-minded protests, the EPA increased environmental awareness with a mission to protect public health. Earth Day was the precursor of the largest grassroots environmental movement in U.S. history, as well as the impetus for national legislation such as the Clean Air and Clean Water acts. At the turn of the 21st century, the EPA announced new requirements for improving air quality in national parks and wilderness areas and establishing regulations requiring more than 90% cleaner heavy-duty highway diesel engines and fuel.
However, an American conservation movement existed long before Earth Day came to be. Efforts to create national parks such as Mt. Rainier, Yosemite, Acadia, and the Grand Canyon were made possible through the creation of the National Park Service. Early conservationists such as John Burroughs, John Muir and Luis Agassiz Fuertes are also considered to be cultural and political founders of Earth Day, as their efforts to create documentation of majestic natural landscapes were fundamental in law-making regarding national parks.
Learn more about the history and significance of Earth Day here.