- History & Culture
How the first Earth Day ushered in a golden age of activism
Outrage over a California oil spill was the catalyst for the holiday celebrated each April 22. In the U.S., these protests paved the way for key environmental protections.
Each year on April 22, people around the globe come together to honor and conserve their shared home: Earth. Known as Earth Day, the holiday got its start in the United States in 1970 with what was originally billed as a teach-in on college campuses. It has since evolved into a global celebration of the environmental movement’s achievements—and a reminder of the work yet to be done.
Concern for the environment long pre-existed Earth Day’s founding. Between the 14th and 16th centuries, people worried that pollution and general filth contributed to plague epidemics, while soil conservation methods can also be traced to China, India, and Peru as far back as 2,000 years ago.