At its founding in the U.S. in 1970 as the National Environmental Teach-In, Earth Day inspired an estimated 20 million participants, most of them students and teachers, to address local environmental issues. Springing from college campuses, environmental awareness marched steadily around the globe so that in 1990 the first International Earth Day was celebrated by 200 million people in 141 countries. Today the United Nations and 175 countries recognize April 22nd as International Mother Earth Day. It’s estimated that anywhere from 500 million to a billion people will celebrate Earth Day this year by learning about opportunities to improve their local environment. Given the magnitude of environmental stress the planet is already facing, it’s encouraging to know that Mother Earth—Pachamama if you are in Bolivia–has so many people on her side.
Photo by AlicePopkorn.