How Santa Barbara’s Oil Spill Sparked Earth Day in 1969

Back to fifty years ago, Earth Day was evolved out as a consequence of the peace movement in the United States to save the planet earth. On January 28, 1969, there was a heavy oil spill in Santa Barbara in California due to which around three million gallons of oil spewed into the seawater over 800 square miles of area that killed more than thousands of dolphins, seabirds etc. Senator Gaylord Nelson, a junior senator from Wisconsin, had long been concerned about the deteriorating environment in the United States. He with many others being the witness of the ravages of a massive oil spill, sparked the energy of the student’s anti-war protest, with public consciousness about air and water pollution. He then recruited Denis Hayes, a young activist, to organize the campus teach-ins and chosen April 22, a weekday falling between Spring Break and Final Exams, to maximize the greatest student participation.

UN declared April 22 as “International Mother Earth Day”

In the year 2009, the United Nations designated Earth Day, April 22 as “International Mother Earth Day”. According to, Earth Day aims to “build the world’s largest environmental movement to drive transformative change for people and the planet.” The movement’s mission is “to diversify, educate and activate the environmental movement worldwide.”

Earth Day 2020 Theme

Earth Day 2020: The theme for Earth Day 2020 is Climate Action. There are limitless challenges but also the wide opportunities to take action in our own life to fight climate change and protect our precious lands, water and wildlife.

The whole world is currently suffering from an epidemic called coronavirus. The disease originated from Wuhan, China has so far left 2.6 million people vulnerable and 1.84 lakh people have lost their lives due to this disease. Given the outbreak of this epidemic, all the countries of the world have locked down in which all types of transport services, manufacturing industries, IT industry, schools and colleges, etc. are completely closed.

Although this lockdown has caused a lot of damage to the everyday life of common people and the world economy is suffering too, but a positive effect of this lockdown has been an increase in the purity of the environmental factors. While Air Quality Index, carbon dioxide emission, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide, water contamination have been very low, migratory birds’ movements are seen along the rivers.

The coronavirus epidemic has given us many important messages about our earth that need to be taken seriously and acted upon on and that is the theme Climate Action of World Earth Day 2020.

Some Latest Facts

  1. According to, 2.70 Lac Premature Deaths are caused annually by Uncontrolled Burning of Household Wastes.
  2. According to a report published by International Energy Emissions (IEA), India’s per capita CO2 emissions are 40% of the global average and India is the third-largest producer of Carbon Dioxide gas sharing 7.09% of the global emissions with China & US at the top two positions sharing 29.18% and 14.02% respectively.
  3. Data from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment show Greenland lost an average of 286 billion tons of ice per year between 1993 and 2016, while Antarctica lost about 127 billion tons of ice per year during the same period. The rate of Antarctica ice mass loss has tripled in the last decade.
  4. According to a report of WHO in 2019, by 2025, half of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed areas.
  5. According to the news report, one billion animals were killed in Australian Wildfires which is the biggest loss in history.
  6. Three million tons of toxic chemicals are released this year
  7. 2.6 lac deaths from water-related diseases all over the world.
  8. As per reports of the Central Pollution Control Board, in the National Capital Delhi, overall, 46% reduction in PM2.5 and 50% reduction in PM10 was observed during the lockdown period.

Earth Day Themes

  • 2019: Save our species
  • 2018: End Plastic Pollution
  • 2017: Environmental and Climate Literacy
  • 2016: Trees for the Earth
  • 2015: Water Wonderful Water and Clean Earth – Green Earth
  • 2014: Green Cities
  • 2013: The Face of Climate Change
  • 2012: Mobilize the Earth
  • 2011: Clean the Air
  • 2010: Reduce
  • 2009: How do you Get Around
  • 2008: Trees Please
  • 2007: Be kind to the earth – starting from saving resources

Earth Day Celebration in India

The Earth Day Network India Trust was launched in the year 2010 to conduct programs to reach out to the people in the whole country.

SPSTI organizes awareness programs including Quiz Competitions, Invited Talks, Seminars on topics of importance to Earth and it’s Climate. This Year due to Coronavirus Pandemic, SPSTI invites digital actions to create awareness about Climate Change. Send us what you can do in your neighbourhood individually for our Planet Earth.

How we can Contribute to Climate Action

We all are aware that, our lifestyle has greatly contributed to more carbon emissions, shortage of drinking water, global warming etc. According to the International Bodies of Scientists, we have only one more decade to reduce our emissions to avoid the most devastating impacts of climate change on our food, national security, global health, extreme weather and more. We can contribute to this movement of saving the earth individually by doing the following:

  • Unplug the appliances when not in use. Save electricity. Buy goods of high energy efficient ratings.
  • Don’t waste food. The carbon footprint of wasted food is 3.3 billion tons of CO2. Enjoy more plant-based foods.
  • Use public transport or walk whenever possible and avoid unnecessary usage of vehicles. It’s good for health, wallet and planet.
  • Shop smarter with thoughtful purchasing to minimize the waste. Use products that can be recycled or biodegradable.
  • Ant more and more trees. There are stories of planting hundreds of trees on the birth of girl children in India.

These are only a few of our daily life activities which can contribute to our planet earth.

Calculate your Carbon Footprint – Your Impact on the Planet Earth: Click here