A History of Earth Day and Environmental Awareness

Posted by: Jeremy Walsh, April 19, 2013 6:42 pm
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Each April, we celebrate Earth Day, a time to raise awareness of the various environmental challenges we face if we want to sustain our way of life. But where did Earth Day get its start?

Earth Day was first celebrated on April 22, 1970. It was the work of Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin. Nelson was motivated to action by seeing the aftermath of a massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California, the year before.

Inspired by the student anti-war movement, 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.

That first celebration, which took the energy of the student anti-war movement and melded it with raising public consciousness of the threats of air and water pollution, led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts.

Coincidentally, the day before Earth Day, April 21, marks the birthday of John Muir, one of the original naturalists, who founded the Sierra Club.  Muir was born in Scotland and his parents immigrated to the United States when he was young. They bought a farm in Wisconsin, but Muir soon found himself wandering the American West, admiring the landscape. Various travels took him across the continent, but he grew particularly attached to the Yosemite Valley in California. His advocacy was largely responsible for its preservation as a national park. Check out Muir’s writings on nature and this detailed biography to learn more about the origins of environmentalism.


Thank God for those who see the beauty around them and fight to preserve it. Take for example Far Rockaway has a preserve for the sea birds and their young. Several years ago before Hurricane Sandy I was happy to see signs posted by the Parks Department.

The larger areas for example in California with the red wood forest are amazing. Documentaries that I have borrowed from the Queens Public Library foster the desire in my to alert others about the dangers of not preserving and protecting wild life and the earth .

Global warming and climate change have caused me to watch National Geographic Documentaries on the birds that fly across the world and the polar bear. Some documentaries are so extensive that they detail the deep ocean sea animals that live in the south pole. Everything is to be protected from under water dredging to the over fishing of salmon, and giant crabs and lobster.

I will definitely look up this book on earth day. I have a community farm at Roy Wilkins. I will be out there on the first of March 2014 preparing my soil with my sons' help. I have a back injury…but I have the joy of supervising the cleaning and planting, I see other seniors out there who have more severe medical conditions than I….but we all love the GOOD EARTH! \

I will share this book as well and do my part to keep the delicate balance of man and nature and protect our mother earth!

Bracha! Blessings!

and Shalom,


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