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Denis Hayes, the principal national organizer of the first Earth Day, in April 1970, said on Monday that the upcoming 50th anniversary next year will be “the largest, most diverse action in human history.” The goal is to engage three billion people around the world with a focus on climate change.
Thanks to a resurgence in youth-led climate activism, Hayes told reporters at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., that “2020 will be for climate what 1970 was for other environmental issues.”
The mobilization of young people demanding aggressive policies to address climate change has made Hayes especially optimistic that next year will be a watershed moment for the movement. From global school strikes led by Swedish 16-year-old Greta Thunberg to the Green New Deal, led by the youth-based Sunrise Movement and 29-year-old Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), young people across the globe are making it clear they will not accept inaction.
In an interview with ThinkProgress, Hayes said that if he had one message to deliver to the young people today pushing for big change like the Green New Deal, it would be: “Don’t let anyone tell you what’s impossible.”
Back when Sen. Gaylord Nelson (D-WI) chose him to organize the first Earth Day, Hayes was only 25 years old (see NBC News video below), and most of the people working with him on the first Earth Day were even younger.
Denis Allen Hayes, an advocate of solar power, left Harvard after being selected by Senator Gaylord Nelson to organize the first #EarthDay which was on April 22, 1970. #fromthearchives #nbcnewsarchives pic.twitter.com/Y3JK2xlVqo
— NBC News Archives (@NBCNewsArchives) April 22, 2019
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