Environmental Science 101
History of Environmentalism
Environmentalism: A History
Tribal Era: pre-1600
Total population of N. America:
Hunter-gatherers and domesticated cultivation
Generally “modest” resource use
Frontier Era: 1600-1890
Forests cleared for cropland and settlements
Displacement/slaughter of native population
Frontier environmental worldview
“inexhaustible resources” “land of plenty”
Wilderness to be conquered
Government public lands transferred to private interests
Given away or sold cheaply
Railroads, timber industry, mining, land developers, states, schools-universities, and homesteaders
Ended with official closing of frontier in 1890
Feared loss of resources; degradation of wilderness.
Urged preservation, management and protection for future generations.
Henry David Thoreau
Wrote “Walden: or, Life in the Woods” (1854)
A reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings.
Man as part of nature.
George Perkins Marsh
Wrote “Man and Nature” (1864)
Warned that man could destroy himself and Earth if global resources are not restored and sustained.
Documented the effects of human action on the environment.
Beginnings of modern conservation movement.
Forest Reserve Act, 1891
Provides protection of public lands from resource exploitation.
Sierra Club, 1892
Founded by John Muir
Private organization urging protection of wilderness areas.
Urged creation of a national park system
Teddy Roosevelt, U.S. President 1900-1909
Congress grants President power to designate federal wildlife refuges.
Created U.S. Forest Service (1905)
Congress passes Antiquities Act (1906) – National Monuments
National Park Service Act (1916)
N.P.s to be preserved unimpaired for future generations.
Franklin D. Roosevelt, U.S. President 1933-1945
Civilian Conservation Corps (1933)
2 million unemployed put to work:
- planting trees, developing and maintaining parks and recreation areas,
- restored silted waterways, and built levees and dams for flood control.
Hoover Dam on the Colorado River
Soil Erosion Service established in response to Dust Bowl era (1930-1935)
Period of improved sanitation and garbage collection:
Results in sharp reduction in incidence of waterborne infectious diseases
The 1960’s: Modern Environmentalism
World Wildlife Fund founded (1961)
Peace Corps established (1961)
Federal agency of international development
Environment sector (formerly Natural Resource sector)
Grassroots efforts to protect the environment, strengthen understanding of environmental issues, awareness, and conservation.
Promote sustainable use of natural resources.
Silent Spring (1962)
Written by Rachel Carson
Documented pollution of air, water, and wildlife from use of pesticides, such as DDT
Considered the “wake-up call” of the modern environmental movement
The 1950’s – 1960’s: Clean Air Acts
London became known for "pea-soup" fog
mixture of fog and smoke
In 1873, fog kills 700 people.
In 1911, fog kills 1150 people.
Harold Des Voeux, coined the term "smog”, smoke + fog
In 1952, smog kills nearly 4000 people.
1956, U.K. passes its first Clean Air Act
In 1948, 20 killed in Donora, Pennsylvania
1963, 300 killed in New York City
1963, U.S. passes its first Clean Air Act
Authorized research into monitoring and controlling air pollution
Expanded Act 1970: comprehensive federal regulations to limit emissions
EPA and the Clean Air Act
Mission: Protect human health and environment
Reduce outdoor concentrations of air pollutants that cause smog, haze, acid rain, and other problems.
Reduce emissions of toxic air pollutants that are known to, or suspected of, causing cancer or other serious health effects.
Phasing out production and use of chemicals that destroy stratospheric ozone.
1960’s – 1970’s: Modern Environmentalism
Ecology is an emerging science
Wilderness Act (1964)
Protects undeveloped tracts of public land as part of National Wilderness System
Apollo 8 mission (1968)
Photographed Earth from lunar orbit (first time).
Earth seen as small blue/white planet in void of space.
“Spaceship-Earth” environmental worldview.
Hippy movement of late 1960’s - early 1970’s
Spawned a pro-environment movement.
Establishment of Earth Day in 1970.
Mocked by many as “tree huggers”.
Led to the philosophy of “back to nature” and taking care of the Earth through recycling, organic food, vegetarianism and forest preservation.
1970’s: The Environmental Decade
Environmental Protection Agency (1970)
Environmental Quality Improvement Act (1970)
Coastal Zone Management Act (1972)
Marine Mammal Protection Act (1972)
Marine Protection Research and Sanctuaries Act (1972)
Endangered Species Act (1973)
Deepwater Ports and Waterways Safety Act (1974)
Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act (1974)
Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (1976)
Department of Energy (1977)
Water Resources Planning Act (1977)
Water Resources Research Act (1977)
Federal Land Policy and Management Act (1978)
1980’s: Environmental Backlash
Industries strongly oppose many environmental laws and regulations
farmers, ranchers, oil, coal, automobile, mining, and timber
Opposition continues today.
1981-83: Congress slashes 90% of subsidies for renewable energy research and energy efficiency research.
U.S. still lags behind in this research today
Republicans in Congress continue to pass or try to pass laws to remove or restrict environmental laws.
1990’s – present: Pro-Con
Continued industry and Republican opposition to virtually anything labeled “environmental”.
Growing general public interest in environmental issues and increased awareness.
Especially regarding topics such as global warming, renewable energy and recycling.