April 22 may seem to be like any other normal day, but, it is special to each one of us. Do you know why?
Well, apart from being a normal spring day, it has been celebrated as the Earth Day since 1970. This day marks the significance and needs for environmental reform as well as conservation.
Though you might feel like a black cloud hovering around the wellbeing of our environment around in today’s time, the various eco-friendly efforts that are diverted towards saving nature have really given the signs of hope, and obviously for the better.
Talking about 2018, it observed various downs like mass shootings, the refugee crisis, social justice issues, political issues, ongoing armed conflicts and even environmental disasters like floods and earthquakes. But, amidst these negative stories, there are even positive ones – there are victories and significant signs of progress, especially when it comes to the environment.
Some of these biggest and rare environment victories observed in the last year include:
- Worldwide efforts to bring an end to the single-use plastic products
- Healing of the ozone layer
- Increase in renewable energy investment
- Protection of threatened and endangered species
- Protection of the oceans and national monuments
Well, these are only some of the remarkable achievements of the last year. But, if we look back from our very first Earth Day i.e. from 1970 till date, we really seem to have achieved some of the biggest milestones in not only protecting our environment but also making it sustainable.
Let’s take a look at some of the remarkable accomplishments of our eco-friendly movement right from the time we celebrated our first Earth Day.
1. Law of “Environmental Magna Carta” in 1970
A law stating that every important decision must be evaluated by the federal government regarding its environmental impact came into force under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969. Known as the “Environmental Magna Carta”, this law had positive effects in the U.S. and abroad as every major project, including the building of roads or dams required environmental impact statements.
2. Ban of notorious toxic chemical in 1972
In order to increase farm productivity and fight against mosquitoes, DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) was widely used in the post-war era. DDT is a colorless and almost odorless insecticide – a discovery for which Nobel Prize was awarded.
But, eventually, the scientists found that the DDT was actually damaging the environment. It was not less than an environmental disaster that led to thinning the shells of birds’ eggs.
So, as soon as the people came to know about its negative impact, DDT got banned. Gradually, the peregrine falcons, bald eagles and other endangered species that were on the verge of extinction were saved.
3. Regulation of pesticides in 1972
The Federal Environmental Pesticide Control Act was passed in the year 1972 that controlled the sale, distribution as well as the application of pesticides through a systematic administrative process.
Here, the pesticides were further classified under the ‘general’ and ‘restricted’ use. In case of the restricted ones, only a certified applicator can apply it and if anyone else does, it needs to be done only under his/her direct supervision.
This act ultimately led to the betterment of both human and environmental health.
4. Clean Water Act in 1972
With the aim of making all the rivers clean, fishable and swimmable again, the Clean Water Act was passed in 1972. This act presented the basic structure for regulating the quality standards for surface waters as well as the discharges of pollutants into the waters.
According to this act, unless you have the permit to discharge a pollutant for a source into navigable waters, you can’t. Due to this, pollution was curbed up to a great extent and the rivers no longer caught fire.
5. Creation of marine sanctuaries in 1972
The governments had already invested their efforts in saving the land as wilderness areas, but, comparatively, it took a long time for the marine habitat. Finally, in 1972, the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act initiated the concept of marine sanctuaries.
These sanctuaries further protected various priceless biological, historical and cultural treasures like reefs and shipwrecks. Additionally, they also promoted the tourism industry exceedingly.
6. Marine mammal protection in 1972
The marine species including whales, seals, dolphins, and manatees got high-level protection against hunting and harassment in the U.S. under the Marine Mammal Protection Act that came into force in 1972. Due to its strict adherence, gradually their numbers started increasing that further followed a robust eco-friendly tourism business.
7. Global agreement of endangered species in 1975
In 1973, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species was planned and after taking signatures of the countries, it went into effect in 1975. Here, the countries who agreed with this followed a ban and restricted trade of endangered species and their body parts.
The side effect of this agreement gave rise to dealing in black for the products like tiger skins and elephant tusks. Though, the countries gave a tough fight against this trafficking.
8. Improvement of Mc packaging in 1986
In response to the criticism from environmentalists regarding the choking landfills, littering roadways and mountains of Styrofoam containers, McDonald’s decided to use biodegradable packaging in 1986.
This was, indeed, a major win as it helped to introduce a new era where companies came forward to reduce the negative impact on the environment by using eco-friendly packaging and products.
Not only this, but this step also led to customer awareness regarding the impact of their own choices of products in daily lives.
9. Protection of Ozone layer in 1987
Globally, many nations agreed to the Montreal Protocol that banned the use of a series of chemicals that were destroying the protective ozone layer of the Earth. One of these chemicals was chlorofluorocarbons (CFC).
Scientists believed that the loss of the ozone layer would encourage grave problems like skin cancer. Hence, it was imperative for the world to take actions that can help retain this protective layer.
The good news is; the ozone layer is healing and for good.
10. Cleaning up sewage in 1987
Pollution is definitely one of the worst environmental disasters as it is the major contributor towards the deteriorating environmental health. With industries booming in almost every corner of the world, the concern of pollution has come at the forefront.
Another concern about the presence of industries is water quality problems due to sewage waste. This prompted to introduce the Water Quality Act in 1987 that created the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, which further assisted in upgrading water systems up to a great extent.
11. Getting the asbestos out in 1989
Asbestos was once a part of every construction as it was considered to be a wonder material due to its characteristic of light weight and resistance to fire. But, in reality, it created adverse health effects, especially a rare form of lung cancer.
This made the U.S. come up with an initiative that began the decline of the use of asbestos from many products in 1989. There was a partial ban on the different activities related to some asbestos-containing products including their manufacturing, processing and distributing.
Well, its usage still remains banned.
12. Protecting biodiversity in 1993
The concept of sustainability is not new. It started way back and governments made conscious efforts to protect the biodiversity around them.
Approved by different countries in 1993, the Convention on Biological Diversity came into effect. Here, the nations pledged to protect the biodiversity in every way they could.
The conservationists believe that the next phase of this convention, which is due in late 2020, will come to a step further with specific goals towards sustainability.
13. The Hybrid Revolution in 2000
In order to achieve greater fuel efficiency, the concept of hybrid products came into force. The automobile company Toyota came up with Prius in Japan in 1997 but, it came to the U.S. in 2000.
Gradually, a movement began stressing on better fuel efficiency through the introduction of the high-tech car. In no time, various hybrid models began to be offered by almost every car company.
It is continuous - there’s no end to the environmental victories
With every passing year, different acts are getting introduced with the goal of making the environment, eco-friendly while preserving it to the best of our efforts. So, when we look back to the time when Earth Day was celebrated for the very first time, indeed, the world has joined hands together to fight against different environmental disasters for years.