Some people who talk about the environment talk about it as though it involved only a question of clean air and clean water. The environment involves the whole broad spectrum of man's relationship to all other living creatures, including other human beings. It involves the environment in its broadest and deepest sense. It involves the environment of the ghetto which is the worst environment, where the worst pollution, the worst noise, the worst housing, the worst situation in this country -- that has to be a critical part of our concern and consideration in talking and cleaning up the environment." Gaylord Nelson. This famous quote by Nelson Gaylord takes us back over 40 years ago when he first began his triumph for a cleaner and healthier earth. A time in his political career when Nelson imagined that if Kennedy made a tour of the nation, highlighting environmental crises and proposing solutions, he would be greeted by the same enthusiastic response, he had received in his home town of Wisconsin. Then Legislators on Capitol Hill would see the strength of popular interest in ecological and conservation matters and be willing to act. Nelson proposed a "conservation tour" to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and presidential aide Arthur Schlesinger, who endorsed the idea and recommended it to the president. As a freshman senator, he knew his influence was marginal, but he boldly drafted correspondence to the President Kennedy that included talking points and compelling quotations from key environmental thinkers. Nelson went to the U.S. Senate with a clear and ambitious objective to make environmental issues a part of the nation's political agenda. It took only seven years in a blink of an eye for congressional time to achieve and surpass that goal. Earth Day, which Nelson founded and nurtured, was the defining moment in the modern environmental movement. On Earth Day in 1970 environmental politics were forever changed, and the environment became a...
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