The Genius of Earth Day: How a 1970 Teach-in Unexpectedly Made the First Green Generation

Adam Rome, Author
Adam Rome. Hill and Wang, $27 (336p) ISBN 978-0-8090-4050-6
Reviewed on: 01/14/2013
Release date: 04/16/2013
Open Ebook - 368 pages - 978-1-4299-4355-0
Paperback - 346 pages - 978-0-86547-774-2
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Rome (The Bulldozer in the Countryside) digs deep into collections of articles and ephemera, and shows how Senator Gaylord Nelson’s simple idea for a nationwide teach-in about the environment grew into “an educational experience as well as a political demonstration.” Manifesting in the form of over 12,000 local events, the teach-in catalyzed a limited effort by disparate environmental groups into a powerful movement that engaged politicians, youth, the media, the educational system, and everyday people in an explosion of interest and activity around protecting the Earth. Working from the thesis that the lack of centralized agenda-setting for Earth Day allowed for a wide range of manifestations, Rome profiles several of the diverse individual organizers, events, and speakers involved in the first Earth Day. He then follows the impact of these events by citing the rise of lobbying organizations like the League of Conservation Voters, new legislation on environmental responsibility like the Clean Air Act, increasing media coverage of ecology, and the creation of a generation of environmental activists directly linked to Nelson’s teach-in. This detailed history gives credit where credit is due, jumping off from the seminal event to chronicle the growing concern for industry accountability and the link between individual behavior and ecological health. (Apr.)
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