Archive Gallery: The Birth of Environmentalism

On the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, we take a look back at where it all began

The year 1970 was a pivotal one for the modern environmental movement: on April 22, U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson founded Earth Day, which quickly grew from a grassroots demonstration into the week-long celebration that we partake in to this day. And on December 2, President Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to respond to the growing demand for green legislation and environmental oversight.

We shouldn’t be surprised, then, at the influx of environment and pollution-related articles recorded in our archives during the early 1970s.

Prior to that decade, keyword searches for typical green terms turn up only a smattering of results. In 1932, we briefly mentioned that fumes from factory chimneys in Germany may be damaging farmers’ crops. Dangerous chemicals were described simply as “foreign vapors in the atmosphere.” In June 1955, we featured an article on anti-traffic exhaust technology, while referring to stories about smog as “scare headlines.”

Oh, how times change.

Click to launch the photo gallery

Those types of “scares” of course became all too real, as studies about the thinning ozone layer and acid raid began entering the public dialogue. We are pleased to report that following the landmark publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring in 1962 and the consequent banning of DDTs, we published dozens of articles that not only examined the crisis, but that recommended ways people could contribute to a greener, healthier future for Earth.

Click through our gallery to read about 10 ways people becan to confront pollution after 1970.