Every year, people gather to celebrate Earth Day. This global celebration honors the achievements of the World Environmental Movement. It is also the day environmental enthusiasts use it to raise awareness and insist on protecting the earth’s resources.

However, who started Earth Day? How is it different from Environment Day? If you are interested in finding out the answers to these questions and more, read on to discover more interesting facts about earth day.

1. Wisconsin Sen. Gaylord Nelson Inspired the First Earth Day

As recently as 1970, it was legal for industries and humans to do however they pleased. Factories would release toxic smoke and dump their toxic waste into the environment; nobody could do anything about them. There were no regulations whatsoever.

The result was the environment started becoming unbearable for its occupants. At one point, Senator Gaylord Nelson had had enough – he started Earth Day as a way of forcing the hand of other leaders into discussing environmental issues as matters of national concern.

Along with demonstrations by over 20 million people in the United States, Gaylord’s measures were successful. In December 1970, Congress ordered the creation of an agency to help solve environmental issues. The agency formed was the U.S Environmental Protection Agency, better known as EPA.

2. There is a Difference between Earth Day and Environment Day

Many people often confuse Earth Day and Environment Day, and understandably so. However, as explained by one writer, the purpose of Earth Day is to raise awareness of the need to protect the environment.

On the other hand, Environment Day is a platform where people can spread awareness and celebrate the achievements of the steps put in place to better the environment. Another slight difference is that the United States created Earth Day while the United Nations initiated Environment Day.

Simply put, Earth Day honors the planet, while Environment Day raises awareness of the importance of conserving the environment. The first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970, and the first Environment Day in 1974.

It is also worth noting that Earth Day has multiple themes yearly, while Environment Day is the same. One focuses on the things related to the earth, while the other focuses solely on the environment.

3. The Paris Agreement Was Signed on Earth Day

What started in 1970 as a minor revolution grew and became so strong that it held so much power. To further emphasize this, in 2016, the then Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon, picked the day as the perfect one to sign the iconic Paris Climate Agreement.

The Paris Agreement was critical as it sought to pledge with every country worldwide to help minimize greenhouse emissions. Many world heads of state attended the event in New York. Looking back, we can say the move has been successful so far.

4. Earth Day Was Celebrated Virtually in 2020

After 50 years of people gathering worldwide to celebrate Earth Day, people found themselves in unfamiliar waters in 2020. With the presence of the Corona Virus pandemic, many countries opted for lockdowns, and gathering was illegal. This challenged the celebration of the iconic Earth Day.

Leaders engaged in day-long virtual talks, teach-ins, action calls, and other related performances to commemorate the day. Given that the first Earth Day involved millions of people protesting in the streets, the 2020 celebrations were very different.

5. Gaylord Nelson Chose Earth Day with Students in Mind

We celebrate Earth Day every year on April 22, but do you know why? Well, the reason is simple: Senator Nelson picked a day that did not interfere with Spring Break. He centered his idea around students, so he didn’t want to interfere with their final exams.

Other reasons include he had to consider other major holidays, such as Easter, and the weather was perfect for celebrations around that time of the year.

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Last Update: July 6, 2023