Number 9: Hang laundry to dry
This has been an epic period for environmentalists! However, nothing galvanizes opposing forces to action better than significant wins by their foes. And appears to promise that environmental issues — particularly climate change — will be more politicized than ever before. By and large, environmental action since the s proceeded in the U. The intellectual roots of American environmentalism are most often traced back to the 19th-century ideas of Romanticism and Transcendentalism from thinkers such as Henry David Thoreau.
These philosophical and aesthetic ideas grew into initiatives for preserving the first national parks and monuments, an effort closely associated with Theodore Roosevelt. By the close of the 19th century, a combination of resource exploitation and increasing leisure led to a series of conservation efforts, such as protection of birds from feather hunters , which were often led by wealthy women.
The biggest impact of these organizations, though, came during the later s and s, when their membership skyrocketed with large numbers of the concerned, but not-so-radical, middle class. During the s and s, NGOs often initiated the call for specific policies and then lobbied members of Congress to create legislation. Republican and Democratic presidents of this era signed laws that had begun with grassroots demands for environmental action. Environmental issues, whether they were the effects of acid rain or the ozone hole , had become a prime concern in the political arena.
Indeed, by the s, NGOs had created a new political and legal battlefield as each side of environmental arguments sought to lobby lawmakers. These gains by environmentalists had a ripple effect politically. And compared to the cooperative vision of past leaders including President Teddy Roosevelt and Congressman John Saylor, who fought in the s for wilderness and scenic river legislation, the Republican environmental mandate of the past appears today to be stymied.
Hillary Clinton, as the likely Democratic presidential candidate, has often been publicly ahead of the Obama administration on environmental issues.
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For instance, when in early Obama approved the expansion of Arctic drilling, Clinton openly opposed it. Also, Clinton was openly against the Keystone pipeline project long before Obama definitively rejected it. In both Keystone and Arctic drilling, Obama allowed the issues a long and very public vetting process that has revealed a powerful, broad-based environmental lobby. NGOs such as Republican candidates seem prepared to relent possible compromise on environmental questions in order to appeal to a special interest faction of their party.
Overall, though, Gallup polling demonstrates broad-based support for environmental issues, including a solid 46 percent favoring protecting the environment over economic development. Going forward, the most revealing flashpoint on issues related to the environment is likely to be climate change, particularly after the historic Paris Agreement of December In its relation to environmentalism, climate change represents a clear expansion of thinking.
While local issues such as oil spills and toxic waste remain concerns, climate change clarified the possible planet-changing extent of the human impact. In each case, these responses to climate change involve plans for regulations to, for example, limit carbon emissions. As the Industrial Revolution continued to wreak havoc on wilderness, a growing chorus of voices sounded the alarm.
Among them were John Muir , a visionary poet of the American West and its spectacular beauty, and Theodore Roosevelt , an avid reformer whom Muir convinced to set aside vast tracts of wilderness for conservation. Other men, however, had different ideas about the value of wilderness. Gifford Pinchot , who studied forestry in Europe and became an advocate for managed forestry, was once an ally of Muir and others in the conservation movement. As Pinchot continued to broker the clear-cutting of virgin forests with influential timber barons, however, he fell out of favor with those who believed in the importance of preserving nature, regardless of its commercial uses.
Muir was among those who decried Pinchot's management of wilderness areas, and it is Muir's interest in preservation as opposed to conservation that gave rise to what may be Muir's greatest legacy. In , Muir and others created the Sierra Club, to "do something for wildness and make the mountains glad. In the 20th century, the conservation movement was overshadowed by events like the Great Depression and two world wars. Only after World War II ended -- and the rapid transformation of North America from an agricultural society to an industrial one was well underway -- did the modern environmental movement begin.
America's postwar industrialization proceeded at a breakneck pace. The results, while amazing in their breadth, alarmed many with the havoc they wreaked.
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Nuclear fallout from atomic tests, air pollution caused by millions of cars and factories spewing chemicals into the atmosphere, the destruction of once-pristine rivers and lakes like Ohio's Cuyahoga River, which famously caught fire due to pollution , and the disappearance of farmland and forests under suburban developments were a concern to many citizens. Into this maelstrom stepped a quiet, studious scientist and author. Rachel Carson in published, a devastating argument against the reckless use of the pesticides that were wiping out populations of birds, insects, and other animals.
The now-classic book gave voice to millions of Americans who saw their rich natural heritage disappearing right before their eyes. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson joined many other politicians in adding environmental protection to their platforms. Even Republican Richard Nixon made considerable progress toward incorporating environmental awareness into his administration. And on Christmas Eve of , NASA astronaut William Anders, while orbiting the moon with the Apollo 8 mission, snapped a photograph that many people credit with providing a foundation for the modern green movement.
His photo shows a small, blue planet Earth peeking over the horizon of the Moon. See above. The image of a small planet, alone in a vast ocean of space, showed billions the fragility of our planet and the importance of preserving and protecting Earth. Inspired by the protests and "teach-ins" that were occurring worldwide throughout the s, Senator Gaylord Nelson proposed in that there be a nationwide grassroots demonstration on behalf of the environment.
In Nelson's words, "The response was electric. It took off like gangbusters. On April 22, , the first celebration of Earth Day took place on a glorious spring day, and the event was a tremendous success. Millions of Americans coast to coast took part in parades, concerts, speeches and fairs devoted to preserving the natural heritage of the United States and the entire world. In a speech that day, Nelson stated, "Our goal is an environment of decency, quality, and mutual respect for all other human creatures and for all living creatures. In the months and years following the first Earth Day and the creation of the EPA, the green movement, and environmental consciousness were solidified into private and public institutions around the world.
These federal acts joined many other state and local programs to protect the environment. But all institutions have their detractors, and the environmental movement is no exception. As environmental legislation began to be implemented nationwide, many in the business community found that environmental legislation was having a negative impact on the profitability of mining, forestry, fisheries, manufacturing and other extractive and polluting industries.
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In , when Republican Ronald Reagan was elected to the presidency, the dismantling of environmental safeguards began. Their success was limited, however, and both Watt and Gorsuch were so universally disliked -- even by members of their own party -- that they were removed from office after serving a matter of months.