The Earth Day reference article from the English Wikipedia on 24-Jul-2004
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Earth Day

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Earth Day, April 22, is a secular holiday celebrated in many English-speaking countries. Its founding organizer, U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson, intended it to be a day that focuses on political efforts to fight pollution, perform conservation, biodiversity, and other environmental concerns to protect the Earth.

The symbol for Earth Day is a green Θ (Greek theta) on a white background:

Θ

History

Earth Day was first celebrated in 1970. Senator Nelson, an environmental activist in the U.S. Senate, organized it to demonstrate popular political support for an environmental agenda. The holiday proved extremely popular. The first Earth Day had participants and celebrants in two thousand colleges and universities, roughly ten thousand primary and secondary schools, and hundreds of communities.

Senator Nelson directly credits Earth Day with persuading U.S. politicians that environmental legislation had a substantial, lasting constituency. The result of this persuasion was a series of U.S. environmental acts (laws), including the Clean Air Act, the Water Quality Improvement Act, the Water Pollution and Control Act Amendments, the Resource Recovery Act, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the Toxic Substances Control Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the Federal Environmental Pesticide Control Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, and the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act. In a 1980 article, Sen. Nelson credited the same political pressure for "the most important piece of environmental legislation in our history, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)", signed into law on January 1, 1970.

The United Nations celebrates Earth Day each year on the vernal equinox (around March 21). On February 26, 1971, Secretary-General U Thant signed a proclamation to that effect. At the moment of the equinox, the Peace Bell is rung at the UN headquarters in New York.

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