The seed for the creation of Earth Day was planted when Rachel Carson’s bestseller “Silent Spring” was published in 1962. It made the need to protect the environment and public health part of the national conversation. Earth Day and the birth of the modern environmental movement were based on an idea from Wisconsin Sen. Gaylord Nelson. The devastating environmental damage of a massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, Calif., in 1969 had a profound impact on him. He wanted to start a national political movement to protect the earth from the ravages of air and water pollution.