In Richard Nixon's 1970 State of the Union message, he stated,
"We have incurred a debt to nature and now that debt is being called."

The 1970s have been credited as the origin of the modern environmental movement.

Today, however, we see that there is still much work to be done.
Pollution both visible and invisible, both locally and internationally,
still threatens the health of people and the planet.

Here is a larger excerpt of Nixon’s address to Congress and Country
that gives a sense of the urgency people felt regarding the end of pollution:

The great question of the seventies is, shall we surrender to our surroundings, or shall we make our peace with nature and begin to make reparations for the damage we have done to our air, to our land, and to our water? Restoring nature to its natural state is a cause beyond party and beyond factions. It has become a common cause of all the people of this country. It is a cause of particular concern to young Americans, because they more than we will reap the grim consequences of our failure to act on programs which are needed now if we are to prevent disaster later.
Clean air, clean water, open spaces-these should once again be the birthright of every American. If we act now, they can be. We still think of air as free. But clean air is not free, and neither is clean water. The price tag on pollution control is high. Through our years of past carelessness we incurred a debt to nature, and now that debt is being called. The program I shall propose to Congress will be the most comprehensive and costly program in this field in America's history. It is not a program for just one year. A year's plan in this field is no plan at all. This is a time to look ahead not a year, but 5 years or 10 years--whatever time is required to do the job. I shall propose to this Congress a $10 billion nationwide clean waters program to put modern municipal waste treatment plants in every place in America where they are needed to make our waters clean again, and do it now. We have the industrial capacity, if we begin now, to build them all within 5 years. This program will get them built within 5 years.


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