The founder of Earth Day, Wisconsin Senator Gaylord A. Nelson, wrote this scathing essay on the scourge of pollution in 1967. On Earth Day's forty-fifth birthday, his warning that "the bell is tolling for Wisconsin just as for all the nation" is as true as it was then, as editor Ruth Conniff reported this week. Nelson wrote,
The natural environment of America—the woods and waters and wildlife, the clear air and blue sky, the fertile soil and the scenic landscape—is threatened with destruction. Our growing population and expanding industries, the explosion of scientific knowledge, the vast increase in income levels, leisure time, and mobility—all of these powerful trends are exerting such pressure on our natural resources that many of them could be effectively ruined over the next ten or fifteen years. Our overcrowded parks are becoming slums. Our birds and wildlife are being driven away or killed outright. Scenic rural areas are blighted by junkyards and billboards, and neon blight soils the outskirts of most cities. In our orgy of expansion, we are bulldozing away the natural landscape and building a cold new world of concrete and aluminum. Strip miners' shovels are tearing away whole mountains and spreading ugly wastes for miles around. America the affluent is well on the way to destroying America the beautiful.
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