That was the case until 1965 when a fire on Cleveland's Cuyahoga River uncovered that factories regularly released toxic smoke into the air and dumped toxic waste into nearby rivers and streams.
Following this event, Americans slowly became aware that mechanisms needed to be put in place to protect the Earth. In the spring of 1970, Senator Gaylord Nelson created Earth Day to raise awareness on this important issue and to his surprise, 20 million Americans held demonstrations in U.S. cities across the country urging Congress to do more. In December 1970, Congress authorized creation of a new federal agency, the Environmental Protection Agency, to tackle environmental issues (1). By 1990, Earth Day was being celebrated by 140 countries around the globe. (2)
Fortunately, most of today's Americans actively participate in activities and events that protect our planet throughout the year. Examples include recycling, picking up litter, planting trees and conserving water. Together, we can all make the world a happier, healthier place to live.
1) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
2) National Geographic Society
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