Skip Global Navigation to Main Content
Skip Breadcrumb Navigation

Earth Day 2012

"On April 22, 1970, millions of Americans came together to celebrate the first Earth Day.  Students, teachers, activists, elected officials, and countless others challenged our Nation to confront our most urgent environmental issues and rallied around a single message:  the success of future generations depends upon how we act today.  As we commemorate Earth Day this year, we reflect on the challenges that remain before us and recommit to the spirit of togetherness and shared responsibility that galvanized a movement 42 years ago."  President Obama
(From the Presidential Proclamation on the Earth Day released on April 20, 2012)

Earth Day is an annual celebration day on which events are held around the glome to increase awareness and appreciation of the Earth's natural environment. Today, these celebration efforts are coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network with the participation of more than 175 countries every year.

As the symbolic birthday of the Earth, the concept was pioneered by John McConnell in 1969 at a UNESCO Conference in San Francisco. He proposed March 21, 1970, the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere. Following that, U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson initiated a separate Earth Day event April 22, 1970, which activated 20 million Americans from all walks of life and is widely credited with launching the modern environmental movement. The passage of the landmark Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act and many other groundbreaking environmental laws soon followed. Denis Hayes, who was the original national coordinator in 1970, later took it to the international level in 1990. And, more than 1 billion people today participate in the Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world.

This year's main theme for the Earth day was "Mobilize the Earth". More than one billion people in 192 countries took part in the 42nd Anniversary of Earth Day. From Cairo to Beijing, Melbourne to Rome, Rio to St. Louis, communities everywhere stood together for a strong, coordinated action to deal with most pressing environmental challenges.