49 environmental victories since the first Earth Day

The first Earth Day, on April 22, 1970, was a milestone event for the planet. An estimated 20 million people took to the streets across the U.S. to raise awareness about the impacts of human activities on the environment.Since then, the annual tradition has grown to involve billions of people around the world. This year, Earth Day turns 49. To mark this anniversary and to show how much has changed since 1970, we assembled 49 of the most significant accomplishments of the environmental movement since the first Earth Day.1. 1970 The “Environmental Magna Carta”The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 went into effect the following year, becoming a landmark law that requires every major decision of the federal government to be evaluated for its impact on the environment. This began the era of requiring environmental impact statements for building dams, roads, and other major projects. It has been called the “Environmental Magna Carta” for its wide impact and for the precedent it set in government, both in the U.S. and abroad.2. 1972 Notorious toxic chemical bannedDDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) is a colorless, nearly odorless insecticide that was widely used in the post-war era to increase farm productivity and fight mosquitoes. Although a Nobel Prize was awarded for its discovery, scientists eventually realized that DDT was causing problems in the environment, including thinning the shells of birds’ eggs. Rachel Carson popularized this research in the 1962 book Silent Spring. After DDT was banned, bald eagles, peregrine falcons, and many other endangered bird species returned from the brink of extinction.

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