Today, Earth Day celebrates what many consider the birth of the modern environmental movement.
In 1970 Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, made an effort to raise public awareness of air and water pollution. Nelson was inspired by the student protests he saw against the Vietnam War and knew that the same energy could help make waves after witnessing the the massive 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara.
And so, Nelson announced the idea for a “teach-in on the environment” to the national media, persuaded a conservation-minded Republican Congressman by the name of Pete McCloskey to serve as his co-chair, and recruited Denis Hayes as national coordinator. The trio then built a national staff of 85 to promote Earth Day events across the land.
Today, in 2014, Earth Day continues on in a (mostly) much more environmentally conscious world, perhaps thanks to Nelson's initial push.