The 1960s was a period of growth for the environmental movement. Americans began to develop and embrace a type of ideal that civilization would be happier in greener circumstances. It was the age of the post WWII consumer turmoil, of atomic explosions, leaded gasoline, and the Vietnam War. Americans became consumed with independence, individual rights, and improving their quality of life. Lyndon Johnson's "Great Society" contributed to and strengthened this view that Americans wanted to improve their quality of life in their cities, towns, and neighborhoods. For that reason, focus during this time shifted to maintaining the whole environment, including the areas in which people lived every day, not simply maintaining the unspoiled natural areas such a Yellowstone Park.
Numerous factors contributed to the rise of environmental concern in the 1960s that continued through the 1970s. Some of these factors in the growth of environmental awareness were media and literature plus many environmental disasters that took place during the 1960s. During this time, there were abundant amounts of information that was released regarding the cost of new technologies and selfish activities of Americans on nature. The most powerful piece of literature was Rachel Carson's work which was published in 1962, Silent Spring. Caron's book exposed the dangers to the environment and she also warned of the hindering environmental crisis of the period, specifically the use of a pesticide chemical known as DDT. .
The public's concern about the environment continued to rise throughout the 1960s as many became aware of other pollutants surrounding them such as the automobile emissions, industrial wastes and oil spills which threatened their health and the beauty of their surroundings. The air pollution in Los Angeles was so bad that it was equaled to the amount of smoking 2.5 packs of cigarettes per day.