Today is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. The original wave of demonstrations in 1970 transformed U.S. priorities and helped shape the modern global environmental movement.

50 years later, here’s what’s gotten better and worse for the environment. 
Better: America’s air is cleaner

A few months after the first Earth Day, Congress passed the Clean Air Act, one of the most far-reaching environmental laws in American history. Since then, air quality in the U.S. has improved greatly, which has been a boon for public health.
Worse: The oceans are warming and getting more acidic

There is a wealth of evidence, which didn’t exist at the time of the first Earth Day, that climate change is imperiling a vast array of marine life. Ocean temperatures have soared in recent decades.
Better: The bald eagle soars again

One of the major legacies of the first Earth Day was a strengthened Endangered Species Act. More than 1,700 plants and animals have since been protected under the law and roughly 99% have avoided extinction.
Worse: An extinction crisis looms

Despite successes in saving individual species from near-extinction, the world is still losing natural habitat at a striking rate. Scientists warn that as many as one million plant and animal species could face extinction in the decades ahead.
Explore our full list of 10 environmental victories and 10 environmental setbacks that have happened since Earth Day began 
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