There are two main dates for Earth Day. In the United States it is April 22nd. The United Nations also has one on March 20th. Differences in dates aside, the objectives are the same. It is to make people more aware of the importance of taking care of the planet.
The April 22 Day
The April 22 event began in 1970. In response to the growing environmental problems, United States Senator Gaylord Nelson declared that a sound environment was essential to Americans’ well being. Although there were groups supporting various Earth causes, there had never been a single unifying force or movement before. This was the very first and Americans responded to it.
The date for Earth Day was April 22. There were protests and demonstrations held against oil pollution and destruction of forests. Usage of pesticides and rampant toxic wastes were also protested against. More than 20 million Americans participated. Although most involved mass demonstrations there were also programs aimed at reducing and removing pollution.
Spread Throughout the World
The event was quickly embraced by other countries as well. One of the largest was in 1990. The main issue tackled at the time was recycling. Millions of people participated in rallies and activities. It would go on to play a role in establishing the UN Earth Summit in Brazil two years later.
The year 2000 saw two main issues being focused on the date for Earth Day. These were global warming and reusable / clean energy. Millions of people from over 180 countries joined in. The Internet played a big role in bringing the activities together. From Africa to the Washington, people rallied to show support for the planet and against pollution.
The March 20 Day
This is also known as the equinoctial day as it is the March equinox. The concept was proposed in 1969 in UNESCO by John McConnell. It was adopted by the United Nations. The following year it was observed by various countries. Some of the earliest adherents were the United States and Japan. On this date for Earth Day, festivities are held throughout the world.
One of the highlights is the ringing of the Peace Bell at the UN. The bells were given by Japan and have been a main feature of the celebrations. Soon the Japan peace bells were followed by bells ringing from the US, New Zealand, France and other countries.
As with the one on April 22, activities take place that help promote a cleaner environment are held. These are now carried out by the UN and their local networks in various countries.
It should be pointed out that there is no conflict between the two dates. In fact the UN supports and helps organize events and activities on both dates. There is a UN organization called Earth Society Foundation that helps organize and assemble these events.
Today scientific studies continue to show the worsening effects of global warming and climate change. With March 20 and April 22 serving as the dates for Earth Day, its proponents hope it will motivate people to do their part to help save the planet.