History of Earth Day
The first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, a nationwide teach-in on the environment, was inspired by anti-war teach-ins on college campuses that Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, read about in an article on the plane ride home after witnessing the devastation from an oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara, California, in 1969.
“Our goal is an environment of decency, quality and mutual respect for all human beings and all other living creatures – an environment without ugliness, without ghettos, without poverty, without discrimination, without hunger and without war. Our goal is a decent environment in its broadest and deepest sense. Winning the environmental war is a whole lot tougher battle, challenge, by far, than any other challenge ever to confront mankind.”
– Earth Day Founder, U.S. Senator, and Wisconsin Governor, Gaylord Nelson
- Thulin, L. (April 22, 2019). How an oil spill inspired the first Earth Day. Smithsonian Magazine.
- Gaylord Nelson: A vision for the Earth. 2020. PBS Wisconsin Education.
- When the Earth Moves 2020. Outrider Foundation.
- Nelson, G. (2002). Beyond Earth Day: Fulfilling the promise. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press. Floor 3, GE195 .N45 2002
- Rome, A. (2013). The genius of Earth Day: How a 1970 teach-in unexpectedly made the first green generation. New York: Hill and Wang. Floor 3, GE195 .R65 2013
- Christofferson, B. (2004). The man from Clear Lake: Earth Day founder Senator Gaylord Nelson. University of Wisconsin Press.
- Environmental Resources in CSUN’s Special Collections & Archives
- Carson, R. (1962). Silent spring. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. Floor 4, QH545.P4 C38 1962
The 1970s is known as the “Environmental Decade.” The Environmental Protection Agency was created and the following acts were passed during this period:
- National Environmental Policy Act – 42 U.S.C. §4331 et seq. (1970)
- Clean Air Act – 42 U.S.C. §7401 et seq. (1970)
- Clean Water Act – 33 U.S.C. §1251 et seq. (1972)
- Endangered Species Act – 16 U.S.C. §1531 et seq. (1973)
- Safe Drinking Water Act – 42 U.S.C. §300f et seq. (1974)
- Hazardous Materials Transportation Act – 49 U.S.C. §5101 et seq. (1975)
- Resource Conservation and Recovery Act – 42 U.S.C. §6901 et seq. (1976)
Earth Day Now
The theme for this year is Invest in Our Planet. Here are 10 ways that you can get involved as an individual. (More tips here!)
- Use the Internet not trees
- Turn off lights when not in use
- Switch to reusable bags
- Switch to online billing
- Encourage the use of reusable utensils, dishes and trays
- Buy local food
- Eat less meat
- Use a reusable water bottle
- Practice sustainable fashion
- Skip plastic, buy glass or paper products
- Merenlender, A., Buhler, B., Sarris, G., & Kaufmann, O. (2021). Climate stewardship: Taking collective action to protect California. University of California Press.
- Gordon, D. (2021). No standard oil: Managing abundant petroleum in a warming world. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
- Johnson, L. (2021). Paradise: One town’s struggle to survive an American wildfire. New York: Crown. Floor 4, SD421.32.C2 J64 2021
- Jahren, H. (2020). The story of more: How we got to climate change and where to go from here. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.
- Docuseek Earth Day 2022 – a curated selection of 21 films for Earth Day and themes focusing on climate change and the environment.
- Environmental Studies in Video