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American Museum of Natural History


9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, AP® / College


Science, Social Studies, Biology, History

Resource Type

  • Videos, 4 minutes, 11 seconds

Regional Focus

Global, North America, United States

Earth Day 1970-2022: What's Changed?

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  • This video details the history of positive actions taken to address climate change, biodiversity loss, damage to the ozone layer, and toxic pollution, then provides solutions to focus on now. 
  • Students will learn about changes in biodiversity and the environment since 1970, focusing on the positive effects of the Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Montreal Protocol, and the Paris Climate Accord.
Teaching Tips


  • This video delivers a large quantity of high-quality information paired with simple and beautiful infographics. 
  • There are no spoken words in the video, which may be helpful for students with certain processing challenges. 

Additional Prerequisites

  • All of the information provided is written, so some students may need the video paused from time to time to process.


  • Social studies classes could use this video in a discussion about the history of activism or the history of Earth Day.
  • Language Arts classes could use this video as an example of using facts to persuade.
  • This video would work well for a debate on the statement: we are worse off than we were on the first Earth Day. Teachers could use the following steps:
    • Students can choose a position to debate or teachers can assign students to a side.
    • When watching the video, have students take individual notes. Then, have groups meet in "caucus groups" to discuss their top points.
    • A representative from each side can speak for up to a minute about their strongest point, then the groups can meet again to craft a rebuttal.
    • Allow each side to present their rebuttal and closing statements.
    • As a class, reflect on what points were made and which side made the most compelling case. 
  • Other related resources include this video about the success of the Montreal Protocol, this mind map that focuses on human responses to global warming, and this video about extinction.
  • The video can be slowed down in the settings to accommodate younger learners or learners with learning differences.
Scientist Notes
The resource highlights the role of Earth Day in shaping human activities to conserve the planet. It introduces students to the efforts made by the government and the people since Earth Day was celebrated in 1970 up to 2022. This is inspiring and ideal for students to engage deeply to solve the current climate crisis. It is recommended.
  • Science
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • HS-ESS3-1. Construct an explanation based on evidence for how the availability of natural resources, occurrence of natural hazards, and changes in climate have influenced human activity.
      • HS-ESS3-3. Create a computational simulation to illustrate the relationships among management of natural resources, the sustainability of human populations, and biodiversity.
    • LS2: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics Within Ecosystems
      • HS-LS2-6. Evaluate the claims, evidence, and reasoning that the complex interactions in ecosystems maintain relatively consistent numbers and types of organisms in stable conditions, but changing conditions may result in a new ecosystem.
    • LS4: Biological Evolution
      • HS-LS4-5. Evaluate the evidence supporting claims that changes in environmental conditions may result in: (1) increases in the number of individuals of some species, (2) the emergence of new species over time, and (3) the extinction of other species.
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