April 22 marks the anniversary of the start of the modern environmental movement. The first Earth Day was celebrated 52 years ago in 1970. For decades prior, Americans had been dramatically increasing the consumption of gas through automobiles, and industrial pollutants had been constantly released without much backlash from the press or the government. To call attention to the rising environmental crisis, conservationist Rachel Carson published the New York Times bestseller Silent Spring in 1962.
Following its publication, a huge environmental movement arose, promoting awareness for our environment, the organisms living in it, and public health. In the midst of this call to action, Wisconsin senator Gaylor Nelson was inspired to create Earth Day, especially when the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill prompted many protests. Soon enough, the protests turned into the beginnings of a revolution, catching the attention of the media across the nation. By the end of 1970, President Richard Nixon created the U.S.Environmental Protection Agency, and it passed many important environmental laws after its creation. Since then, billions of people all around the world have gathered annually to show their support in many ways. Today, the importance of the fight against climate change is becoming increasingly apparent and is specially recognized each Earth Day.
This year, people all around the world came together for an incredible Earth Day after two years of the pandemic. Thousands marched in protests, congregated meetings, and held important gatherings. One notable protest was in Washington, D.C., held outside the White House and in Franklin Square. According to The Washington Post, 19-year-old student Jamie Minden and many other young activists came together to protest in front of the White House, criticizing the Biden administration for its failure to take on the climate crisis with sufficient policy-making. The main reason for this protest was that the Biden administration has proposed many new rules and laws addressing the state of the environment, but doubtful leaders have prevented actual action from being taken.The young activists spent Earth Day protesting against the burning of fossil fuels and the resulting increase of methane in the atmosphere. Minden, a freshman at American University, has experienced California droughts and fires her whole life and feels she has to take action now.
Globally, there were major demonstrations for Earth Day 2022 as well, particularly those that protested the purchase of Russian oil. According to Kate Abnett of Reuters, “Since Moscow’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, the EU has spent more than 38 billion euros ($41.2 billion) on Russian fossil fuel imports.” As a result of the war, many countries in the EU have agreed to boycott Russian oil. Alongside people fighting for peace, there were many climate activists present at protests fighting against oil purchasing policies on Earth Day, since the topic of fossil fuels is relevant to climate change and the future. More information on the topic of Russian oil is available here. Some major protests were held in Berlin, Warsaw, Brussels, Lviv, and New York. In Europe, activists gathered around embassies and government buildings. Many Ukrainian protestors fought to protect their country and its citizens during the time of war. School strikes were also held to protest this topic in places like Bangkok and Stockholm.
These events are only a few that took place this year on Earth Day, but it is becoming apparent that there are countless other acts being done to address concerns about our impact on the planet. Earth Day 2022 was a step forward, but we still have a long way to go.