Today, perhaps more directly than with any Earth Day Doodle previous, Google reflects the splendor that can grow, over time, out of grassroots.

As Earth Day turns 42 on Sunday, the animated Google logo celebrates just how far the campaign has come, from hardy American upstart of a ground-level effort to global event that now spotlights the motto “Billion Acts of Green.”

To help spread awareness of environmental care, the day will feature rallies and parades, lectures and films, community plantings and concerts. Earth Day’s center stage is on the National Mall, where such acts as Cheap Trick (set to co-headline its Global Warming Tour this summer), Dave Mason, Kicking Daisies and Explorers Club will perform, And a lineup of leaders -- including 1970 Earth Day organizer Denis Hayes -- is scheduled to speak.

All this from an idea that sprung from a ‘60s hotbed of causes and growing concerns.

The day devoted to focusing on Mother Nature has numerous parents -- and widespread genealogical roots -- but then-Sen. Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin is credited with founding the “national teach-in” about the environment that was held April 22, 1970. The late politician said that the seeds of that Earth Day lay in the blueprints for a national conservation tour during the JFK administration -- the same period during which Rachel Carson published her landmark book of environmental warnings 1962’s “Silent Spring.”

Although the tour didn’t come to fruition, “it was the germ of the idea that ultimately flowered into Earth Day. ... “ Nelson said. “The people were concerned, but the politicians were not.”

Amid the era’s campus protests -- rallies for rights and against the Vietnam War -- environmental concerns struck a major chord. “Earth Day worked because of the spontaneous response at the grassroots level,” said Nelson, who posthumously would be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
“We had neither the time nor resources to organize 20-million demonstrators and the thousands of schools and local communities that participated. That was the remarkable thing about Earth Day. It organized itself.”

That Earth Day spawned the birth of the EPA, and helped spark such congressional legislation as the Clean Water and Clean Air acts.

Earth Day first went global in 1990, reportedly supported by about 200-million people in more than 140 countries.

Nodding to those grassroots efforts, Google today salutes what can happen when millions the world over grow toward the light of knowledge: nameky, environmental awareness reaches full flower.

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