The History of Earth Day


By Frank Chen, Program Specialist 

Earth Day is coming up on April 22nd. Did you know that Earth Day has become the largest secular day of observance? It helps to remind us of our environmental impact as well as our shared responsibility to take action so here is a little background on how it all started. 

The first Earth Day occurred on April 22, 1970, one year after a devastating oil spill in Santa Barbara. At the time, this was the largest oil spill ever, killing an estimated 3,500 birds as well as other marine life such as dolphins, seals, and sea lions. The event captured international attention, sparking outrage and concern for our environment.

Realizing the increasing consciousness of environmentalism, Gaylord Nelson, a U.S Senator from Wisconsin, with the help of Pete McCloskey, a U.S. Representative from California, organized the first Earth Day event. Nelson and McCloskey succeeded in amassing some 20 million people across the nation to recognize a day of environmental education and awareness. Shortly after the first Earth Day, the Environmental Protection Agency was formed along with the passage of key legislations such as the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts. Many attribute the 1970 Earth Day as the start of the modern environmental movement.

Today, Earth Day is more relevant than ever. It is celebrated by more than a billion people across 193 countries. This year will be the start of a new campaign from the Earth Day Network aimed at increasing environmental and climate literacy, so be sure to join in on the festivities!

Earth day Events in Central Coast:

Santa Barbara
Alameda Park
Saturday, April 22 (11am-7pm)
Sunday, April 23 (11 am-6 pm)

Ventura Plaza Park
Saturday, April 22 (10 am-5pm)

San Luis Obispo
El Chorro Regional Park
Saturday, April 22 (11am-5pm)