Each year, we celebrate the birth of the modern environmental movement which started in 1970. The idea for a national day to focus on the environment came to Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. On April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment. Groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values.
Flash forward 49 years later. What's important to remember is that our environment is inextricably linked to our health and well-being. The National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences, part of the National Institutes of Health, or NIH, advises us about common diseases and conditions that evidence shows may be strongly linked to environmental exposures. Some of these diseases include asthma, breast cancer, cancer, lung disease and others. They also publish research on which populations are exposed to the effects of certain environmental conditions.
The Earth Day Network, the organization that leads Earth Day worldwide, chose this year's theme, Protect our Species. There are many things each of us can do to protect our environment and our species, so we can all lead healthier lives.
Here is a fun quiz you can take to test your understanding of what we can do protect our species!