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A Brief History Of International Earth Day!

Earth Day was first recognized on April 22, 1970. The event which would become an annual celebration was the brainchild of activist John McConnell, founder of the Earth Society Foundation. In early 1969, an oil well accident off the coast of Santa Barbara, California resulted in over 3 million gallons of crude oil pouring into the Pacific Ocean. The disaster led to the deaths of more than 10,000 sea-faring creatures – including birds. 

photo by Sher Marks in Monroe County, West Virginia

Earth Day was first recognized on April 22, 1970

Later that year during a Unesco Conference held in San Francisco, McConnell floated the idea of “Earth Day.” Then on January 28, 1970 – the one-year anniversary of the oil spill – Santa Barbara held its first “Environmental Rights Day,” which featured the initial reading of the “Declaration of Environmental Rights” This event is widely regarded as the “birth of the environmental movement.” Shortly thereafter, the federal government established the “Environmental Policy Act,” the first of many subsequent laws intended to protect and maintain the planet. The first “Earth Day” took place less than three months later, and was followed by a series of volunteer-led educational sessions across the United States. 

2022 marks the 52nd. Earth Day celebration.

2022 marks the 52nd. Earth Day celebration. What began as a small educational initiative in response to a California oil spill has grown to include over 75 partner organizations, and has organized more than 1 billion volunteers is its mission to “diversify, educate and activate the environmental movement worldwide.” 

The theme for this year’s celebration is “Invest in our Planet.” will be livestreaming the Earth Day Action Summit, beginning at noon on Friday. The summit can be viewed by visiting

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Matthew Young has been a resident of Lewisburg, WV since December 2019. Prior to arriving in West Virginia, Matthew resided in the Philadelphia area, where his reporting, commentary, and editorials have been featured in numerous local and regional publications. Previously, he has served as a scriptwriter and consultant for television, radio, and various other short-form digital-media platforms, both within the United States and internationally. Since moving to the Mountain State, Matthew spent eighteen months as senior writer/managing editor for the West Virginia Daily News and is currently an active journalist with the West Virginia Press Association.