Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Q&A | Earth Day

A Q&A on Earth Day

With this year's Earth Day coming Tuesday, the St. Petersburg Times takes a quick look at how it got started, what has changed and local events scheduled for this weekend.

What is Earth Day?

It's an event scheduled for April 22 intended as "a nationwide grass roots demonstration on behalf of the environment," according to founder Gaylord Nelson.

How did it get started?

Throughout the 1960s, public concern about the environment grew thanks to a series of pollution-related disasters, including a record-breaking fish kill on Lake Thonotosassa. So in September 1969, Nelson, then a senator from Wisconsin, announced that in the spring of 1970 there would be a nationwide demonstration on behalf of the environment. "The response was electric," Nelson recalled years later. Organizers picked April 22 as a day near the end of the school term when students might be able to get out of class to join the demonstration.

Did it draw much public attention?

More than 2,000 colleges and universities and more than 10,000 high schools and grade schools took part. An estimated 20-million citizens participated — nearly 10 percent of the U.S. population at that time.

What impact did it have?

The first Earth Day "made it clear that we could summon the public support, the energy, and commitment to save our environment," said Nelson, who died in 2005. Congress responded with laws to protect the environment, including the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act.

Has the Earth Day celebration changed over the years?

Nowhere near 20-million people will demonstrate this year. Earth Day is a highly commercialized endeavor, with cosmetics companies, office supply chains and television networks using it as an occasion to publicize how earth-friendly they are. For instance, Frito-Lay (a division of Pepsi) is using Earth Day this year to inaugurate a solar-powered factory in California that will produce SunChips. The organizers of this year's Earth Day planned daylong events on Sunday at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and seven other cities, including Miami — all sponsored by the financial services firm JPMorgan Chase.

Are there any local events?

Yes, including the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in St. Petersburg running its annual open house on Saturday. It offers free tours of the state's marine laboratory, complete with touch tanks and other kid-friendly attractions. The Lowry Park Zoo is offering a "Party for the Planet" on Saturday, with regular admission.

How can I find out more about Earth Day?

Go to : ww2.earthday.net/.

Compiled by Craig Pittman, Times Staff Writer.

A Q&A on Earth Day

04/17/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 10:38am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. McConnell trying to revise the Senate health care bill by Friday

    Politics

    WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is aiming to send a revised version of his health care bill to the Congressional Budget Office as soon as Friday as he continues to push for a vote before Congress' August recess.

    Protesters rally against the Senate Republican health care bill Wednesday on the east front of the Capitol building.
  2. Police raise likely death toll in London high-rise blaze

    World

    LONDON — The number of people killed or presumed dead in the London high-rise fire has inched up to 80, but the final death toll may not be known for months, British police said at a grim briefing Wednesday.

  3. Rick Baker gives himself a "B" in 1st debate against Rick Kriseman

    Blogs

    Rick Baker gave himself a “B” in his first debate against Mayor Rick Kriseman.

    Rick Baker chats with supporters at a fundraiser at St. Petersburg Yacht Club Wednesday evening
  4. Companies, governments assess damage from latest malware attack

    World

    PARIS — Companies and governments around the world on Wednesday counted the cost of a software epidemic that has disrupted ports, hospitals and banks. Ukraine, which was hardest hit and where the attack likely originated, said it had secured critical state assets — though everyday life remained affected, …

  5. Details of Trump's travel ban still being finalized

    Nation

    WASHINGTON — Senior officials from the departments of State, Justice and Homeland Security labored Wednesday to finalize rules for visitors from six mostly Muslim nations who hope to avoid the Trump administration's revived travel ban and come to the United States.