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April 22, 2014

Earth Day's Founders: Gaylord Nelson and Denis Hayes.

The first Earth Day was on April 22, 1970. It was founded by the late U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson (D-Wis.), and Denis Hayes, the National Coordinator for the 1970 Earth Day. Nelson was a lawyer, outdoorsman, true Wisconsin character, ex-governor and hardworking legislator. To get an idea of him, see my 2005 remembrance of "The Earth Day Senator", which appeared in Environmental Protection Magazine after Nelson's death in July of 2005. An excerpt:

In his first speech as a senator in March of 1963, he declared the erosion of the nation's air and water quality to be a pressing national issue. This was new and different stuff: "We need a comprehensive and nationwide program to save the natural resources of America," he said. "Our most priceless natural resources...are being destroyed." Conservation, once the province of civics classes, the scouting movements, and a few scattered organizations like the Sierra Club, was about to become political.

In the 1960s, Denis Hayes attended Stanford University where he was student body president and a diligent activist against the war in Viet Nam. After Stanford, Hayes was attending Harvard's Kennedy School of Government when Nelson in 1970 tapped him to spearhead the first Earth Day. Hayes became a visionary leader, solar power advocate, author and organizer in the then-new environmental movement. See and hear excerpts from this 2009 interview with Hayes by The Guardian, the powerful British daily, on progress made both in America and globally over the next four decades.



Posted by JD Hull at April 22, 2014 11:36 PM


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