This day is celebrated as Earth Day. The tradition began on 22 April 1970 in the United States, at the instigation of Senator Gaylord Nelson, environmental activist. In those years various anti-government protests were common in the United States, particularly against the Vietnam War. Senator Nelson was prompted to start the celebration of Earth Day by a major ecological disaster during the previous year when a large amount of oil from undersea wells leaked near the California city of Santa Barbara. It was the largest oil spill in U.S. history at the time (later it was surpassed by Exxon Valdez and especially BP’s platform leak in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010).
The first Earth Day was marked by approximately 20 million Americans and it achieved great success. The date was reportedly chosen because no religious holiday falls on that day, and schools and colleges have no exams. Anticommunists criticized that date because it falls on Lenin’s birthday, and they even accused the founders of being closet communists. In 2009, the General Assembly of the United Nations officially declared 22 April the International Earth Day.