When late Sen. Gaylord Nelson founded Earth Day in 1970, his primary objective was to demonstrate to political leaders the “broad and deep support” people had for the environment. Nelson knew the day would be a success, with peaceful demonstrations catching on from coast-to-coast — but he never could have imagined the actual response.
“Two thousand colleges and universities, 10,000 high schools and grade schools, and several thousand communities in all, more than 20 million Americans participated in one of the most exciting and significant grassroots efforts in the history of this country,” Nelson wrote in an article published by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1980. “Earth Day 1970 made it clear that we could summon the public support, the energy, and commitment to save our environment.”
So this year, on Earth Day’s 45th anniversary, the Earth Day Network hopes to remind people there’s strength in numbers. The network proposes 2015 could be an environmental game changer, “the year in which economic growth and sustainability join hands,” if everyone can rally for change.