Earth Day Gifts / February 23, 2019 / Blanche Durham
He promoted Earth Day to senators governors mayors and college campuses newspaper editors. In November 1969 he formally announced a nationwide environmental teach-in called Earth Day would be held in the spring of 1970. As the event became headline news the public reacted enthusiastically. Nelson first handled Earth Day public relations from his senate office but with the public s overwhelming interest the office moved into its own organization. Founder of Common Cause John Gardner helped with a temporary office and college students helped field the office. Nelson appointed Dennis Hayes as coordinator of activities.
In 1962 marine biologist Rachel Carson published Silent Spring. The book talked about the commonly used toxic pesticides used in agriculture and daily life. The title referred to the consequences of the devastating pesticides: a world without birds. Surprisingly Silent Spring became a hit. Americans cared and they wanted the facts. In 1968 the world saw the entire Earth for the first time. Apollo astronauts photographed the planet on their flight home from the moon. The Earth looked beautiful with its swirls of blues and whites. The photo provided a startling awareness: people saw Earth as vulnerable and needing human care.
Approximately 20 million people celebrated the first Earth Day. In America participation was high in schools which ten thousand grade schools and high schools two thousand colleges participating. Amazing numbers considering the event started as a grassroots movement. Government Actions The strength of the Earth Day movement was clear to legislatures. Following Earth Day s success the U.S. government passed laws that targeted cleaner living. In 1970 The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was established. The Clean Air Act followed with a focus on reducing air pollution with the Clean Water Act doing likewise for water clean-up in 1972. The U.S. also passed the Endangered Species Act to protect animals from extinction.