THE FIRST EARTH DAY IN 1970 marked the beginning of a grassroots effort to sound the alarm over environmental pollution and to engage everyone in cleaning up the planet. TIME has devoted many covers and special issues to the problems threatening Mother Earth. Some highlights of our coverage over the years:
The U.S. environment is seriously threatened by the prodigal garbage of the world's richest economy....By curbing disease and death, modern medicine has started a surge of human overpopulation that threatens to overwhelm the earth's resources.
From Fighting to Save the Earth from Man
Feb. 2, 1970
Most plans for the observance of Earth Day (as April 22 was designated by ecology action groups) contrasted sharply with youth's fiercely militant stands against the war in Viet Nam, poverty and racial discrimination. Unless young radicals stir up trouble, which is always possible these days, the emphasis will be mainly on education, with some quiet fun thrown in.
From The Dawning of Earth Day
Apr. 27, 1970
The environment's future depends in part upon whether the public sentiment mobilized last week will endure to force change, whether Americans will sustain their interest in the longer and duller tasks of cleaning up the land.
From A Memento Mori to the Earth
May. 4, 1970
In 1970, the cause that once concerned lonely crusaders like Rachel Carson became a national issue that at times verged on a national obsession....At the root of this phenomenon were the dire warnings of ecologists that man's heedless outpouring of noxious wastes is overwhelming the biosphere's ability to cleanse itself.
From Issue of the Year: The Environment
Jan. 4, 1971
In the ten years since the first Earth Day participants pledged to "preserve, protect and clean up the planet," a remarkable body of legislation has been enacted, possibly comparable in its range and impact to the New Deal programs of the 1930s or the civil rights reforms of the 1950s and '60s.
From Ten Candles for Earth Day
May. 5, 1980
The easiest, most direct way for people to make a difference is to watch what they throw away. Every year more than 220 million trees are cut down just to make U.S. newspapers, the majority of which are tossed into the trash.
From Endangered Earth Update
By Glenn Garelik
Dec. 18, 1989
It will begin at sunrise on April 22, with church bells pealing for the health of the planet. ...One of the main goals of Earth Day 1990 is to help broaden the environmental movement far beyond its upper-class, bird-watcher base.
From Endangered Earth Update: Let Earth Have Its Day
By Jeanne McDowell
Dec. 18, 1989
As the marketing monster called Earth Day lumbers toward April 22, hapless journalists in its path are desperately dodging a barrage of press kits, news releases and alerts.
From Earth Day
By Eugene Linden
Apr. 23, 1990
Earth Day 1990 is driven from below by a wide assortment of Americans -- from housewives to chemical-plant workers and fishermen -- whose impatience with their fouled neighborhoods has forced cities and states to become legislative trendsetters and pass laws far stricter than the Federal Government's.
From Earth Day Greening From the Roots Up
By Priscilla Painton
Apr. 23, 1990
Whenever the environmental movement needs someone to gather the troops worldwide, it turns to a tall, understated activist who rides his bicycle to work, wears flannel shirts and has a unique ability to herd the masses toward a common goal. His name is Denis Hayes, but you can call him Mr. Earth Day.
From Mr. Earth Day Gets Ready to Rumble
By David S. Jackson
Apr. 26, 1999
It is no accident of history that the first Earth Day, in April 1970, came so soon after color photographs of the whole earth from space were made by homesick astronauts on the Apollo 8 mission to the moon in December 1968.
From Taking The Long View
By Stewart Brand
Apr. 26, 2000
One of the most important and immediate things we can do is drive fuel-efficient, high-gas-mileage cars--cars that have fewer toxic emissions and produce less carbon dioxide, the main culprit behind global warming.
From Get Wise To Global Warming
By Leonardo DiCaprio
Apr. 26, 2000
This year there is no peace on Earth Day. While the nation's attention has been focused on war in the Middle East, domestic battles still rage between those who want to cordon off America's wild places and those who want to tap the oil and gas reserves that lie beneath them.
From How Green Is The White House?
By Andrew Goldstein and Matthew Cooper
Apr. 29, 2002
For two years, the President has found ways to bypass restrictions on oil and gas drilling, mining, logging and coal-fired power generation. Within days of the Republican gains of last November's elections, the Administration stepped up what critics view as an all-out assault on the environment.
From How Bush Gets His Way On The Environment
By Terry McCarthy
Jan. 27, 2003
There has never been much support in the United States in either party for ratifying Kyoto. It was seen as fatally flawed, largely because it didn't apply to nations such as China and India, which, along with the rest of Asia, are expected to account for as much as 70 percent of the global growth in greenhouse gases over the next 15 years.
From Losing the Green Light
By Christine Todd Whitman
Jan. 31, 2005
With the greening of politics and pop culture -- from Al Gore to Leo DiCaprio to Homer and Marge in The Simpsons Movie -- TV is jumping on the biodiesel-fueled bandwagon.
From Green Screens
By James Poniewozik
Aug. 16, 2007