CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – The first Earth Day was held on April 22, 1970 as an effort to bring awareness of the dangers of pollution to the environment and to all of the plant’s living creatures, and is considered the start of the modern environmental protection movement.

Prior to 1970 there were no regulations to control pollution in the United States. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Clean Air Act, and the Clean Water Act did not exist. Industries freely dumped toxic waste into water, landfills, and into the air through smoke and gaseous emissions.

Earth Day was the creation of Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson. He had long been concerned about the dangers of pollution in its many forms and the impact on the environment and health. Grassroots organizations that had been advocating for years against pollution, the loss of green space, and wildlife extinction joined the movement, gaining bi-partisan support in Congress.

Initially, Earth Day focused on pollution, but has now expanded to include the impacts of climate change and the need for sustainable agriculture and energy. A new generation of environmental activists around the world are becoming involved and looking to to make changes that will protect the planet far into the future.

Image courtesy the U.S. Census Bureau

Friday, April 22, 2022 will mark the 52nd anniversary of Earth Day. From its beginning in the U.S. in 1970 it has grown to include 193 countries around the world with more than 1-billion people participating in environmental protection events.