Not everyone knows but the Environmental Protection Agency was a product of the first ever Earth Day in 1970. Before that, there was no clean air or water act and pollution was legal. The country’s water supply was dirty and people and animals alike were struggling.

Read: 6 Photos That Show What U.S. Looked Like Before Environmental Protection Laws

The first Earth Day was proposed by Sen. Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, who was disturbed by a 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara. He wanted to host a nationwide event that would help educate citizens on the environment and its importance.

More than 20 million people across the country ended up participating and Congress created the Environmental Protection Agency the following December. The date, April 22, was actually chosen because the first Earth Day was designed as a teach-in, and the 22nd fell right between spring break and finals for most college students. It wasn’t until 1990 that Earth Day went global.

It’s been a cherished event since, with the national and international emphasis on protecting and bettering the globe.

Earth Day 2017 Activities:

Earth Day 2017 Facts:

  • CO2 levels are higher now than they've ever been. Levels are at more than 400 parts per million. You can check the current level on NASA's website.

  • The United Nations renamed Earth Day in 2009. It's now universally known as "International Mother Earth Day."

  • This year, the theme for Earth Day is "Environmental & Climate Literacy." The goal is to make sure that by 2020, students graduating high school are climate and environment literate.

  • In 2010 Earth Day Network started a campaign to plant a billion trees, a goal that was reached in 2012. The new goal is to plant 7.8 billion trees by 2020, Earth Day's 50th anniversary.