Smithsonian Magazine   |  April 19, 2017

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On April 22, 1970, millions of people heard the call to protect our planet from industrial pollution, deforestation, and other destructive effects of increasing human pressure on Earth’s natural resources. Huge public demonstrations of environmental awareness and activism marked the first Earth day celebration across the U.S. Before the end of the year, the Environmental Protection Agency was established and the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts passed. By 1990, Earth Day was observed by 200 million people on all seven continents, united in a global mission for a healthier planet. Last year, on Earth Day in 2016, the U.S. and more than 100 other nations signed the Paris Agreement in a landmark move to lower greenhouse gas emissions and reduce climate change risks and impacts around the world.

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