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Earth Day was founded in 1970 as an education day on environmental issues, and in 2021, it will be its 51st anniversary of the holiday.
The holiday is now a global celebration that sometimes extends to Earth Week, seven full days of events focused on green living. Conceived by Senator Gaylord Nelson and inspired by the protests of the 1960s, Earth Day began as a “national teaching on the environment” and was held on April 22 to maximize the number of students that could be reached on university campuses. By raising public awareness of pollution, Nelson hoped to bring environmental causes into the national spotlight.
Since 1970, Earth Day celebrations have increased. In 1990, Earth Day went global, with 200 million people in more than 140 participating countries, according to the Earth Day Network (EDN), a nonprofit organization that coordinates Earth Day activities. Today, the Earth Day Network collaborates with more than 17,000 partners and organizations in 174 countries. According to EDN, more than 1 billion people are involved in Earth Day activities, making it “the largest secular civic event in the world”.
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