How the First Earth Day Came About From Senator Gaylord Nelson

Another Earth Day: The History of the Movement

In the 1970s a movement started. Americans started noticing our impact on the surrounding environment, so Earth Day 1970 was created. The idea started with Senator Gaylord Nelson after seeing the impacts of a massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. He wanted to infuse energy into public consciousness about pollution of our air and water. The result was millions of Americans holding rallies and demonstrations in support of protecting our world against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, and loss of wilderness. The first Earth Day was a bipartisan event gaining support from both Democrats and Republicans. It led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Act.

Earth Day“Actually, the idea for Earth Day evolved over a period of seven years starting in 1962. For several years, it had been troubling me that the state of our environment was simply a non-issue in the politics of the country. Finally, in November 1962, an idea occurred to me that was, I thought, a virtual cinch to put the environment into the political “limelight” once and for all. The idea was to persuade President Kennedy to give visibility to this issue by going on a national conservation tour. I flew to Washington to discuss the proposal with Attorney General Robert Kennedy, who liked the idea. So did the President. The President began his five-day, eleven-state conservation tour in September 1963. For many reasons, the tour did not succeed in putting the issue onto the national political agenda. However, it was the germ of the idea that ultimately flowered into Earth Day.” ~ Gaylord Nelson