Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson started the environmental movement that would turn into what we celebrate now as Earth Day. On November 11, 1969, Senator Nelson announced that April 22, 1970 – a date chosen to fit best in college schedules between spring break and final exams – would be the day of what they named the "National Teach-In on the Crisis of the Environment."
Senator Nelson's actions launched the environmental movement in the U.S. that resulted not only in the designation of an Earth Day but the establishment of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the adoption of many of the country's earliest laws including the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act. Years after these early efforts, Senator Nelson provided these thoughts on why environmental protection was essential: "The wealth of the nation is its air, water, soil, forests, minerals, rivers, lakes, oceans, scenic beauty, wildlife habitats and biodiversity…that's all there is. That's the whole economy. That's where all the economic activity and jobs come from. These biological systems are the sustaining wealth of the world."
To learn more about the history of Earth Day, visit http://nelsonearthday.net/.
If you are in D.C. today, consider joining the Earth Day celebration on the National Mall. The rally on Sunday, April 22nd will take place from 12:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. and include civic leaders and celebrities addressing the environmental movement.
"There is a great need for the introduction of new values in our society, where bigger is not necessarily better, where slower can be faster, and where less can be more."
Happy Earth Day 2012!