After the 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara, Senator Gaylord Nelson from Wisconsin appealed to the student anti-war movement and worked with them to bring the ideas of air and water pollution to the public consciousness. In 1970, Senator Nelson was inspired to create Earth Day as he was worried about the rate of the industrialization and the carelessness our society had towards the environment. Joining in the effort to create Earth Day, Congressman Pete McCloskey, a conservation-minded Republican, was the co-chair and Denis Hayes from Harvard was the national coordinator. Hayes was able to build a national staff of 85 to promote events across the country, choosing April 22nd, 1970 as the date as it fell between Spring Break and Final Exams.
Earth Day 1970 achieved a rare political alignment, enlisting support from Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, city slickers and farmers, tycoons and labor leaders. Earth Day is celebrated internationally on April 22nd every year. A common practice is to plant trees as they help the environment, producing oxygen and removing carbon dioxide and other contaminants from the air. Trees also help clean our water by reducing stormwater runoff. It is created when rain falls on the roads, driveways, parking lots, rooftops and other paved surfaced that do not allow water to soak into the ground. These large volumes of water are swiftly carried to our local streams, lakes, wetlands and rivers, and can cause flooding and erosion, impacting the habitat of critters that live near and in these areas.
Trees and forests improve stream quality and watershed health primarily by decreasing the amount of stormwater runoff and pollutants that reaches our local waters. Trees and forests reduce stormwater runoff by capturing and storing rainfall in the canopy and releasing water into the atmosphere through evapotranspiration (the process by which water is transferred from the land to the atmosphere by evaporation from the soil and other surfaces and by transpiration from plants). In addition, tree roots and leaf debris create soil conditions that promote the infiltration of rainwater into the soil. This helps to replenish our groundwater supply and maintain streamflow during dry periods.
So help our water and celebrate Earth Day by planting a tree!