News and Commentary

Flashback: Recycling-Obsessed Earth Day Founder Killed, ‘Composted’ Ex-Girlfriend
Protesters carry an inflatable globe during an anti-war demonstration February 15, 2003 in New York City. Tens of thousands attended the rally which coincided with peace demonstrations around the world.
Mario Tama/Getty Images

President Joe Biden, “climate czar” John Kerry, and other environmental leaders will mark Earth Day 2021 with a special “Leaders Summit on Climate Change,” where the president is expected to commit to major efforts aimed at “reducing climate emissions,” including those listed in his forthcoming “infrastructure” bill.

Biden is expected to propose that the U.S. cut its climate emissions in half by 2030, which the administration says will “keep a limit to warming of 1.5 degree Celsius (2.7 degrees F) within reach.”

But the roots of Earth Day will likely go unmentioned, particularly given that the self-proclaimed “founder” of Earth Day, Ira Einhorn, was such a dedicated fan of recycling that he “composted” his ex-girlfriend and stored her in his closet for years.

“A self-proclaimed environmental activist, Einhorn made a name for himself among ecological groups during the 1960s and ’70s by taking on the role of a tie-dye-wearing ecological guru and Philadelphia’s head hippie,” NBC News reported about the now-scrubbed-from-history Earth Day icon. “Ira Einhorn was on stage hosting the first Earth Day event at the Fairmount Park in Philadelphia on April 22, 1970.”

When Einhorn’s girlfriend, Helen “Holly” Maddux disappeared in September of 1977, Einhorn was the prime suspect, having been the last person, reportedly, to see Maddux alive. Following a quarrel, she went back to the Philadelphia apartment the pair shared to collect her things and was never heard from again.

“It wasn’t until 18 months later that investigators searched Einhorn’s apartment after one of his neighbors complained that a reddish-brown, foul-smelling liquid was leaking from the ceiling directly below Einhorn’s bedroom closet. Inside the closet, police found Maddux’s beaten and partially mummified body stuffed into a trunk that had also been packed with Styrofoam, air fresheners, and newspapers,” NBC said.

After eluding the police for a brief time, Einhorn was captured and convicted of Maddux’s murder. He’s currently serving a life sentence.

NBC notes that, despite Einhorn’s claim of founding Earth Day, current Earth Day organizers credit former Wisconsin governor Gaylord Nelson with the achievement, and have largely scrubbed Einhorn from the holiday’s history.

“Although Einhorn was only the master of ceremonies at the first Earth Day event, he maintains that Earth Day was his idea and that he’s responsible for launching it,” the outlet notes. “Understandably, Earth Day’s organizers have distanced themselves from his name, citing Gaylord Nelson, an environmental activist, and former Wisconsin governor and U.S. senator who died in 2005, as Earth Day’s official founder and organizer.”

True to Einhorn’s legacy, though, environmentalism itself appears to have a significant body count — at least according to the libertarian Atlas Society. The Atlas Society blames environmentalists’ efforts to stall the implementation of air conditioning in Europe, their crusade against larger vehicles that more effectively absorb the impact of collisions, the global ban on the use of DDT to combat malaria, and the environmentalist movement against food production, distribution, and consumption, for millions of deaths worldwide.

Environmentalists, of course, contend that global climate change is a major killer.

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