In 1963, former Senator Gaylord Nelson began to worry about our planet. (A senator is a person that the people of the United States have chosen to help make the laws.) Senator Nelson knew that our world was getting dirty and that many of our plants and animals were dying. He wondered why more people weren't trying to solve these problems. He talked to other lawmakers and to the President. They decided that the President would go around the country and tell people about these concerns. He did, but still not enough people were working on the problem.
Then, in 1969, Senator Nelson had another idea. He decided to have a special day to teach everyone about the things that needed changing in our environment. He wrote letters to all of the colleges and put a special article in Scholastic Magazine to tell them about the special day he had planned. (Most of the schools got this magazine and he knew that kids would help him.)
Earth Day is an annual observance, held on April 22, to increase public awareness of environmental problems. Each year on Earth Day, millions of people throughout the world gather to clean up litter, to protest threats to the environment, and to celebrate progress in reducing pollution.
Earth Day began in the United States. In 1969, U.S. Senator Gaylord A. Nelson suggested that a day of environmental education be held on college campuses. The following year, the lawyer and environmentalist Denis Hayes, then a recent graduate of Stanford University, led hundreds of students in planning and organizing the first Earth Day. About 20 million people participated in the original observance on April 22, 1970.
Earth Day in 1970 helped alert people to the dangers of pollution and stimulated
a new environmental movement. That same year, Congress created the Environmental
protection Agency to set and enforce pollution standards. Congress also
passed the Clean Air Act of 1970, which limited the amount of air pollution
that cars, utilities, and industries could release. Other new environmental
laws soon followed.