Earth Day founder Senator Gaylord Nelson told President Kennedy in 1963 that while the public is “aware that all around them, here and there, outdoor assets are disappearing, they really don’t see the awful dimension of the catastrophe” that prominent conservationists of that time, such as Rachel Carson, were pointing out.
In 1969, after a devastating oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara, California, Senator Nelson had an idea: a teach-in on the environment; and on April 22, 1970, Earth Day began.
Boy, did the country learn.
The years after the first Earth Day saw the passage of many major environmental laws, including the Endangered Species Act in 1973.
So, on each Earth Day anniversary, we momentarily pause in our individual and societal quests for greater affluence and give thanks for the many blessings of a healthy environment: clean drinking water; rivers, lakes and oceans that are swimmable and fishable; air that is breathable; open spaces that support outdoor recreation and a vibrant recreation economy; habitat that provides protection from storms and floods … the list goes on.