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Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 04/21/2010

Earth Day turns 40: Celebrate with local events

By Ann Posegate

* Cooler with showers: Full Forecast | NatCast *


Forty years ago, the inaugural Earth Day took the country by storm.

On April 22, 1970, over 20 million American citizens, including teachers, students and community leaders in more than 1,000 cities and towns across the country, raised awareness of environmental degradation in their communities and demanded government protection for the natural environment.

Spearheaded by United States Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, this national environmental teach-in led to the formation of the Environmental Protection Agency, the creation of the Clean Water Act and amendments to the Clean Air Act. "Our goal is not just an environment of clean air and water and scenic beauty. The objective is an environment of decency, quality and mutual respect for all other human beings and all other living creatures," said Nelson in a speech he presented on a breezy 59-degree inaugural Earth Day in Denver.

Keep reading to learn more a bout the first Earth Day and find local events this week...

Only months earlier, the Cuyahoga River in Ohio had literally caught fire. According to the Ohio Historical Society, Times magazine described the river as "Chocolate-brown, oily, bubbling with subsurface gases, it oozes rather than flows." The protection of natural resources for conservation's sake had transformed to a concern for the environment as a whole, with a goal of reducing the impact of pollution on air, land, water, biodiversity and human health. Senator Nelson and millions of Americans were on board, but Congress lagged behind. Nelson intended the first Earth Day to "force the issue [of the environment] into the political dialogue of the country."

Today, more than 500 million people worldwide celebrate Earth Day every April 22.

Though we may live or work in a built environment, we enjoy local parks, rivers and other natural areas for recreation. We depend on renewable and non-renewable resources for our day-to-day lives, and in doing so, alter the natural environment.

In turn, we are all affected by our local environment, from the air we breathe and water we drink to the local parks in which we walk our dogs.

What will you do this Earth Day to celebrate and support the environment in your community? Many events are occurring in the D.C. area. Here are just a few.

More information:

By Ann Posegate  | April 21, 2010; 11:00 AM ET
Categories:  Environment, Posegate  
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When is the actual Earth Day this year?

It seems they are celebrating a full Earth Week from last Sunday to next Sunday. Unfortunately events on the Mall will get dampened by the weekend's expected bad weather.

I still think we should organize a second International Geophysical Year. Geologic events have been dominating the news of late.

Posted by: Bombo47jea | April 21, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Bombo, Earth Day is always celebrated on April 22, though a lot of organizations celebrate the weekend before and after too.

Posted by: Ann-CapitalWeatherGang | April 21, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

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