Santa Barbara Channel is a sea channel in Pacific Ocean that separates California State of the USA from the Channel Islands. It has a major role in the history of Petroleum excavation. The world’s first offshore oil drilling was established here by the USA. In January 1969, the region witnessed a huge oil spill due to the leak in a pipe used to carry oil from under the sea to outside. It was the third largest oil spill in history. In a mere period of ten days, around one hundred thousand barrels of oil spilled into the sea causing vast marine hazards.
Within a few days, more than three thousand sea-birds and thousands of marine animals, including fishes, dolphins and sea lions, were killed. Santa Barbara, who had been famous till then as a region of treasure, went on to be remembered for this disaster ever since.
The tragedy was a reminder of the human negligence towards nature. It inspired people to think about the future of Earth and environment. It was this incident that laid the foundation for the observation of Earth Day. A number of nature lovers were then trying to spread the awareness about the importance of nature conservation. American senator Gaylord Nelson was one among them. He was the person behind the creation of Earth Day.
The Earth Day was first observed in USA on April 22. But another Earth Day had been observed a month ago in San Francisco. An activist named John McConnell was behind the celebration, on 21 March 1970. But the idea attracted worldwide attention when it was implemented by Nelson.
Nelson was one of those who witnessed the tragedy that befell Santa Barbara. He was convinced that Earth would have a bleak future if this situation was to continue. In his effort to spread the awareness he was aided by another statesman Pete McCloskey. An activist named Denis Hayes was the coordinator of the first Earth Day, which was observed on 22 April 1970.
More than 20 million Americans thronged the streets pledging their support to nature conservation on the historical day. Most of the participants were students.
The idea crossed the American border in 1990. Many nature activists from various countries met Denis Hayes and sought help to spread the observation across the world. Thus in 1990, around 141 nations observed the Earth Day, holding various events. 200 million people raised their voice for nature. As a result, the Earth Summit was conducted in Rio de Janero in 1992. Gaylord Nelson, the brain behind the idea, was honored with Presidential Medal of Freedom by his country.
The Earth Day events are now coordinated by the Earth Day Network, an organization founded by Hayes. Various events are organized and activists show their support to the cause planting trees, cleaning rivers, conducting awareness programs and in many other ways.