Every Day is Earth Day

Tomorrow is the anniversary of the first Earth Day, established in 1970. Although April 22, 1970 was the first Earth Day, environmentalism began long before that day, and it continues today.

Below are three outstanding examples of early American pioneers in environmentalism. For each I have provided a brief overview, and a few links and photos.

More info about Earth Day 2023: Earthday.org

Rachel Carson…

…published Silent Spring in 1962, a book that forewarns readers how the world will be silenced of bird song if the indiscriminate use of synthetic pesticides continues. She was a marine biologist and writer, presented scientific evidence of the damage from pesticides.

She began her research in the mid-1940s on the new pesticides, one being DDT. At the same time, a contemporary of hers, Paul Hermann Müller, was awarded the 1948 Nobel prize for his 1939 discovery of insecticidal qualities in DDT in the control of vector diseases such as malaria.

Hers was an uphill battle with sharp opposition. But she was not alone in her efforts. Early environmentalists gathered data for decades, recording and demonstrating the gradual disappearance of new generations of birds whose eggshells were no longer strong enough to develop.

Eventually, in 1972 DDT was banned from the United States.

Today we have Rachel Carson and her fellow environmentalists to thank for the presence of the bald eagle, brown pelican, osprey, peregrine falcon and other birds that had been so severely affected by DDT that they almost went extinct…but they didn’t.


Silent Spring Wikipedia

Rachel Carson Wikipedia

DDT Report by US Environmental Protection Agency, History and Status, 2023

Save the Bay…

… is a nonprofit organization started in 1961 by three women living in the San Francisco Bay Area. At that time the San Francisco Bay was showing alarming signs of shrinking and the so-called solution was to cut off the top of nearby San Bruno Mountain and put it into the bay. They rallied the community and began a fundraising campaign to stop landfill in the bay.

Esther Gulick, Kay Kerr and Sylvia McLaughlin’s organization was successful in saving the bay from landfill. As it grew bigger and stronger, tangential environmental organizations were formed with the purpose of protecting the bay and all of its surroundings.

Today, humans, plants and animals thrive in and alongside the San Francisco Bay; and Save the Bay remains a strong presence in this urban environment by restoring wetlands, addressing rising seas, pollution and climate impacts.


Save the Bay Non-Profit

Save the Bay Wikipedia

Marjory Stoneman Douglas…

…was a Florida journalist and conservationist known for her staunch defense of the Everglades against efforts to drain it and reclaim land for development. At the age of 79, she became a tireless crusader for the preservation and restoration of South Florida.

In the mid-20th century with the advent of air conditioning, sunny, warm Florida experienced rapid demographic and economic growth. Government and private entities were clearing away the natural estuarine habitats and making room for human development.

Her book, The Everglades: River of Grass (1947) and grassroots efforts to stop human development, polluting, and water diversion of the Everglades began awareness that continues to this day.

Today the Everglades Foundation is dedicated to restoring and protecting the Everglades ecosystem as the climate changes and the resource of water remains as precious as when she began her efforts.


Marjory Stoneman Douglas Wikipedia

The Everglades Foundation

Fortunately there are thousands more stories of individuals, organizations, and lawmakers around the world working tirelessly to protect our planet for future generations of people and wildlife.

We have come a long way but there is always more to do. For today, take a moment to breathe in fresh air and ponder at how wonderful that is.

Written by Jet Eliot.

Photos by Athena Alexander.


61 thoughts on “Every Day is Earth Day

  1. A breath of fresh air, OMG, how delightful it is to have it on a regular basis.
    Memories of life in Chicago suburbs had one strong one I will never forget!
    It smelled very unpleasant. Making changes that means fresh air and water
    and unpolluted landscapes is healthy for the Earth and humans alike!
    great post Jet

  2. Really enjoyed your article. We have had some real heroes that have worked so hard to protect our environment and planet. Doing nothing and ignoring is so easy but deadly. I’ll be looking for more ways to support Earth Day!!!

    • I am happy today’s post inspired you to look for more ways to support our planet, Bill. There are always more ways, even for those of us like you and me who already do things. A big smile and deep thanks to you, Bill.

  3. Hats off to each and every person doing their thing, large or small, to ensure a better environmental future.
    This is a lovely collection of information and images, and every time you take us to the Bay Area, I always smile – what a place!
    Thanks, Jet, and have a great weekend!

    • Oh so wonderful to receive your kind words, pc. I know your work guiding and teaching today’s youth in outdoor adventures is a great way of building support for the planet. Always a joy to share the SF Bay Area, and with you I am reminded of a very fun day with you and Mrs. PC. Let me know if you ever plan to visit again…. Meanwhile, cheers to this planet and to you.

    • Thank you, Deborah. It was really fun putting this post together. The only difficulty was narrowing all the environmentalist stories down to just three. Glad you enjoyed it.

    • Thanks, Jan. No, Rachel Carson’s life was not easy. DDT was the magic elixir of the time and many organizations did not like her digging up this “bad” evidence. Then she got cancer and was very ill and died relatively young. I am sure she saved a lot of lives, but could not save her own. Thanks for your visit today, always a pleasure.

  4. I’m grateful to those early pioneers and those who continue to lead the way towards improving our environment. Yes to clean air and water, and healthy habitats for all our relations to thrive.

  5. Three very deserving mentions. We have so many people to thank for the great improvements made in environmental quality since the 60s. So far yet to go. I always wonder what would be the thing to target that would make a real difference like these three.

  6. Excellent post once again – I love your perspectives in both text and photos. Great choice of “historical” resources, wide-ranging aspects. And Athena’s closing heart-shaped photo? What a serendipitous find that was. Big love for our Earth.

    • Thanks very much, Babsje. Yes, big love for our Earth, something you and I both share. Athena and I found that shell just as it is pictured, on a beach on Sanibel Island in Florida. I’m really glad you enjoyed the post and hope you are doing well.

    • Yes, I agree, Craig. We who are living now are so lucky we had those pioneers before us. BTW, I’m wondering what wildlife you saw on your recent road trip to the east. You mentioned you saw some….

      • I ran a tally on the blog posts, but it was a large list. I always love eagles, but there were owls, a porcupine, a dead opossum that I couldn’t technically count, and the expected ungulates. You might have enjoyed the frozen field covered with swans.

  7. I had no idea Earth Day was established so long ago. You’ve offered a fine tribute to it, and to the commitments of so many people. I was especially glad to see the mention of Marjory Stoneman Douglas. Her Rivers of Grass is a splendid book; many people think about trees and mountains when they think about celebrating Earth Day, but prairies, bogs, swamps, and marshes deserve mention, too!

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the Earth Day post, Linda. And glad you knew about M. S. Douglas and associate her with her book and work, and not the sad situation with the school named after her. It was fortunate she lived a very long life because she did a lot of environmentalism in her long life. Thanks very much.

  8. Very interesting and encouraging. I would surely count you and Athena among the individuals who work to educate and inform others and in doing so contribute to the protection of our environment. Thank you!

  9. GREAT history, or should I say, herstory, of early female environmentalists! So glad they are finally getting the attention they deserve. At least here in New England, Rachel Carlson is mentioned in schools and my grandchildren have a book about her.
    LOVELY photos that (again) made me homesick.

    • Wonderful to receive your kind words, Pam, thank you. It is a pleasure sharing a bit about these three powerful women and their contributions to protecting our planet.

  10. Thank you for this wonderful Earth Day post, Jet & Athena!
    I know many are trying to help/solve/reverse an ongoing deterioration of earth.
    Interesting that those you have mentioned here are all women.
    Thank you for this post!

    • We have a lot of people to thank for bringing forward the protective environmental measures set in place, so it is with pleasure that I share these three pioneer women. Thanks so much, Resa, for your kind words.

  11. What a wonderful post on early American pioneers in environmentalism. Each of them contributed important work to a more sustainable environment. Lovely to read each of them worked in a particular area, and there certainly are so many facets of the environment to think about and protect. Climate change is very real but a part of it is caused by human development and pollution. We can take small steps to make the world a better place, being mindful of our actions and their impact on our surroundings. Brilliant captures by Athena as usual. Each photo is stunning in its own right. Hope all is well with you, Jet 😊💕

    • It was a pleasure to receive our lovely comment, Mabel. Yes, there is so much to protect on this planet and we are lucky we had these three pioneers and scores more to set us on our way. Thanks very much for your visit.

  12. We have a owe a lot to those that saw the need and started the early push for change and preservation. I was aware of the DDT history, but the other two were new to me – thanks for sharing. Happy belated Earth Day.

    • I agree, Brian, the environmental work so many people did before us is monumental. I’m glad to know I introduced you to a few heroes==thank you for your visit. Always a joy to have you stop by. Birds of Big Morongo in So. Cal. coming up on Friday, my birding friend.

  13. Thank you for your post on this special day, Jet! I’m educated. Yes, “We have come a long way but there is always more to do.” –well said.
    Thanks to their vision, courage, and never-ending effort to save our earth.

    • Thanks very much for your wonderful comment and visit, Amy. I know with your extensive travels and outdoor photography, you and I are on the same page here.

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