It’s hard to believe that we’ve been celebrating Earth Day every April 22 for nearly 40 years. Back in 1970 Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson founded Earth Day after years of trying to get increasing environmental issues into the political spotlight and to the mainstream media. While on a conservation speaking tour Senator Nelson got the idea to organize a nationwide grassroots environmental demonstration, much like the anti-Vietnam teach-ins that were so popular during the era. The New York Times reported on the momentum of Earth Day a few months before the event:
"Rising concern about the environmental crisis is sweeping the nation’s campuses with an intensity that may be on its way to eclipsing student discontent over the war in Vietnam…a national day of observance of environmental problems…is being planned for next spring…when a nationwide environmental ‘teach-in’…coordinated from the office of Senator Gaylord Nelson is planned…."
The participation of the first Earth Day was remarkable–20 million demonstrators and thousands of schools and local communities partook in the demonstration.
Since 1970 environmental coverage in the media has skyrocketed into its own niche with entire publications devoted to all-things environmental.