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Earth Day 2010: 40 years of environmental awareness

Earth Day 2010: 40 years of environmental awareness

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On the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, SmartPlanet brings you a package of stories to reveal how far we've come in four decades -- and where we still need to go.

Today is the 40th anniversary of Earth Day.

On April 22, 1970, the first celebration of Earth Day was the spark that formalized the beginning of the modern environmental movement.

Founded by U.S. senator Gaylord Nelson, the holiday was meant to take environmental issues out of the hands of activists and put them in the hands of middle America.

Here's an excerpt from his letter to our corporate siblings at CBS News back in 1970:

The issue had to become a part of the political dialogue of the nation before we could hope to accomplish anything. It has now become a part of the political dialogue and that is, in my judgment, the most significant environmental event in the history of the movement.

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The simple fact is that we cannot afford the price of not cleaning up the environment.

From college students to environmental advocates, millions of Americans joined to fight the collective fight against a rapidly deteriorating environment, from oil spills and toxic waste dumps to the adverse effects of pesticides, automobile emissions and other byproducts of industry.

Forty years later, businesses and citizens have gotten smarter about these things. But there's much more work to be done.

We here at SmartPlanet are excited to bring you a package of stories that we think will help you understand how far we've come in the 40 years since the first Earth Day. As you'll see in the following stories, we're getting a little more smarter every day. --The Editors

Biodiversity

Green Economy

Renewable Energy

Recycling & Waste Reduction

Green Building & Architecture

Food & Agriculture

Green schools & Education

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Andrew Nusca

Editor Emeritus

Andrew Nusca is editor of SmartPlanet and an associate editor for ZDNet. Previously, he worked at Money, Men's Vogue and Popular Mechanics magazines. He holds degrees from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and New York University. He is based in New York but resides in Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure