Earth Day Founder Gaylord Nelson Dies The founder of Earth Day, former Wisconsin Governor and Senator Gaylord Nelson, died Sunday at the age of 89. Nelson once said Earth Day was an attempt to get politicians to notice environmental problems. From Wisconsin Public Radio, Chuck Quirmbach has a remembrance.
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Earth Day Founder Gaylord Nelson Dies

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Earth Day Founder Gaylord Nelson Dies

Earth Day Founder Gaylord Nelson Dies

Earth Day Founder Gaylord Nelson Dies

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The founder of Earth Day, former Wisconsin Governor and Senator Gaylord Nelson, died Sunday at the age of 89. Nelson once said Earth Day was an attempt to get politicians to notice environmental problems. From Wisconsin Public Radio, Chuck Quirmbach has a remembrance.

Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson. University of Wisconsin hide caption

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University of Wisconsin

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

The man who is credited with founding Earth Day has died. Former Wisconsin senator and governor Gaylord Nelson passed away yesterday at the age of 89. Chuck Quirmbach of Wisconsin Public Radio reports.

CHUCK QUIRMBACH reporting:

Gaylord Nelson spent much of his 18 years in the US Senate fighting for a clean environment. He and others came up with the idea of having schools hold an Earth Day teach-in in 1970. During an NPR interview five years ago, Nelson said the first Earth Day was an attempt to get politicians to notice environmental problems.

(Soundbite of 2000 NPR interview)

Mr. GAYLORD NELSON (Founder, Earth Day): Until an issue gets on the agenda, nobody pays any attention.

QUIRMBACH: Nelson was an author of the Clean Water Act and other major environmental laws. William Cronon is a professor of history and environmental studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Cronon says Nelson was a key advocate.

Professor WILLIAM CRONON (University of Wisconsin-Madison): All those concerns that we associate with the early explosion of environmental concerns in the late 1960s and early 1970s, he was a true national leader in all those areas.

QUIRMBACH: But Wisconsin voters turned the Democratic senator out of office in 1980 in the wave of Republican victories accompanying President Reagan's election. Nelson went to work for the Wilderness Society. In his later years, he re-emphasized his controversial stand in favor of population control and pushed for tighter laws against immigration. He told NPR that every nation needs to pay attention to the environment.

(Soundbite of 2000 NPR interview)

Mr. NELSON: The challenges to all societies in all countries of the world is to forge an environmentally, economically sustainable society. The economy is a--totally dependent on the resource base, and the way I would put it is the economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment.

QUIRMBACH: A memorial service for Gaylord Nelson will be held in Wisconsin's state capital.

For NPR News, I'm Chuck Quirmbach in Milwaukee.

MONTAGNE: You're listening to MORNING EDITION from NPR News.

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