In the United States today, the organized environmental movement is represented by a wide range of organizations sometimes called non-governmental organizations or NGOs. These organizations exist on local, national, and international scales. Environmental NGOs vary widely in political views and in the amount they seek to influence the environmental policy of the United States and other governments. The environmental movement today consists of both large national groups and also many smaller local groups with local concerns. Some resemble the old U.S. conservation movement - whose modern expression is The Nature Conservancy, Audubon Society and National Geographic Society - American organizations with a worldwide influence.
As public awareness and the environmental sciences have improved in recent years, environmental issues have broadened to include key concepts such as "sustainability" and also new emerging concerns such as ozone depletion, global warming, acid rain, land use and biogenetic pollution.
Environmental movements often interact or are linked with other social movements, e.g. for peace, human rights, and animal rights; and against nuclear weapons and/or nuclear power, endemic diseases, poverty, hunger, etc.
Some US colleges are now going green by signing the "President's Climate Commitment," a document that a college President can sign to enable said colleges to practice environmentalism by switching to solar power, etc.
|Sierra Club (1892)||124||246||615||569||736|
|National Audubon Society (1905)||115||400||600||550||550|
|National Parks Conservation Association (1919)||49||27||230||375||375|
|Izaak Walton League (1922)||54||48||51||42||45|
|Wilderness Society (1935)||62||52||365||237||225|
|National Wildlife Federation (1936)||540||818||997||650||650|
|Defenders of Wildlife (1947)||13||50||77||215||463|
|The Nature Conservancy (1951)||22||80||545||865||972|
|Environmental Defense Fund (1967)||20||46||175||300||350|
|Friends of the Earth (US) (1969)||7||25||30||20||35|
|Natural Resources Defense Council (1970)||5||40||170||260||450|
|Greenpeace USA (1975)||n.a.||n.a.||2,225||400||250|
Early European settlers came to the United States brought from Europe the concept of the commons. In the colonial era, access to natural resources was allocated by individual towns, and disputes over fisheries or land use were resolved at the local level. Changing technologies, however, strained traditional ways of resolving disputes of resource use, and local governments had limited control over powerful special interests. For example, the damming of rivers for mills cut off upriver towns from fisheries; logging and clearing of forest in watersheds harmed local fisheries downstream. In New England, many farmers became uneasy as they noticed clearing of forest changed stream flows and a decrease in bird population which helped control insects and other pests. These concerns become widely known with the publication of Man and Nature (1864) by George Perkins Marsh. The environmental impact method of analysis is generally the main mode for determining what issues the environmental movement is involved in. This model is used to determine how to proceed in situations that are detrimental to the environment by choosing the way that is least damaging and has the fewest lasting implications.
Conservation first became a national issue during the progressive era's conservation movement (1890s - 1920s). The early national conservation movement shifted emphasis to scientific management which favored larger enterprises and control began to shift from local governments to the states and the federal government.(Judd) Some writers credit sportsmen, hunters and fishermen with the increasing influence of the conservation movement. In the 1870s sportsman magazines such as American Sportsmen, Forest and Stream, and Field and Stream are seen as leading to the growth of the conservation movement.(Reiger) This conservation movement also urged the establishment of state and national parks and forests, wildlife refuges, and national monuments intended to preserve noteworthy natural features. Conservation groups focus primarily on an issue that's origins are routed in general expansion. As Industrialization became more prominent as well as the increasing trend towards Urbanization the conservative environmental movement began. Contrary to popular belief conservation groups are not against expansion in general, instead they are concerned with efficiency with resources and land development.
Theodore Roosevelt and his close ally George Bird Grinnell, were motivated by the wanton waste that was taking place at the hand of market hunting. This practice resulted in placing a large number of North American game species on the edge of extinction. Roosevelt recognized that the laissez-faire approach of the U.S. Government was too wasteful and inefficient. In any case, they noted, most of the natural resources in the western states were already owned by the federal government. The best course of action, they argued, was a long-term plan devised by national experts to maximize the long-term economic benefits of natural resources. To accomplish the mission, Roosevelt and Grinnell formed the Boone and Crockett Club in 1887. The Club was made up of the best minds and influential men of the day. The Boone and Crockett Club's contingency of conservationists, scientists, politicians, and intellectuals became Roosevelt's closest advisers during his march to preserve wildlife and habitat across North America. As president, Theodore Roosevelt became a prominent conservationist, putting the issue high on the national agenda. He worked with all the major figures of the movement, especially his chief advisor on the matter, Gifford Pinchot. Roosevelt was deeply committed to conserving natural resources, and is considered to be the nation's first conservation President. He encouraged the Newlands Reclamation Act of 1902 to promote federal construction of dams to irrigate small farms and placed 230 million acres (360,000 mi² or 930,000 km²) under federal protection. Roosevelt set aside more Federal land for national parks and nature preserves than all of his predecessors combined.
Roosevelt established the United States Forest Service, signed into law the creation of five National Parks, and signed the 1906 Antiquities Act, under which he proclaimed 18 new U.S. National Monuments. He also established the first 51 Bird Reserves, four Game Preserves, and 150 National Forests, including Shoshone National Forest, the nation's first. The area of the United States that he placed under public protection totals approximately 230,000,000 acres (930,000 km2).
Gifford Pinchot had been appointed by McKinley as chief of Division of Forestry in the Department of Agriculture. In 1905, his department gained control of the national forest reserves. Pinchot promoted private use (for a fee) under federal supervision. In 1907, Roosevelt designated 16 million acres (65,000 km²) of new national forests just minutes before a deadline.
In May 1908, Roosevelt sponsored the Conference of Governors held in the White House, with a focus on natural resources and their most efficient use. Roosevelt delivered the opening address: "Conservation as a National Duty."
In 1903 Roosevelt toured the Yosemite Valley with John Muir, who had a very different view of conservation, and tried to minimize commercial use of water resources and forests. Working through the Sierra Club he founded, Muir succeeded in 1905 in having Congress transfer the Mariposa Grove and Yosemite Valley to the National Park Service. While Muir wanted nature preserved for the sake of pure beauty, Roosevelt subscribed to Pinchot's formulation, "to make the forest produce the largest amount of whatever crop or service will be most useful, and keep on producing it for generation after generation of men and trees." Muir and the Sierra Club vehemently opposed the damming of the Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite in order to provide water to the city of San Francisco. Roosevelt and Pinchot supported the dam, as did President Woodrow Wilson. The Hetch Hetchy dam was finished in 1923 and is still in operation, but the Sierra Club still wants to tear it down.
Other influential conservationists of the Progressive Era included George Bird Grinnell (a prominent sportsmen who founded the Boone and Crockett Club), the Izaak Walton League and John Muir, the founder of the Sierra Club in 1892. Conservationists organized the National Parks Conservation Association, the Audubon Society, and other groups that still remain active.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1933–45), like his cousin Theodore Roosevelt, was an ardent conservationist. He used numerous programs of the departments of Agriculture and Interior to end wasteful land-use, mitigate the effects of the Dust Bowl, and efficiently develop natural resources in the West. One of the most popular of all New Deal programs was the Civilian Conservation Corps (1933–1943), which sent two million poor young men to work in rural and wilderness areas, primarily on conservation projects.
After World War II increasing encroachment on wilderness land evoked the continued resistance of conservationists, who succeeded in blocking a number of projects in the 1950s and 1960s, including the proposed Bridge Canyon Dam that would have backed up the waters of the Colorado River into the Grand Canyon National Park.
The Inter-American Conference on the Conservation of Renewable Natural Resources met in 1948 as a collection of nearly 200 scientists from all over the Americans forming the trusteeship principle that:
"No generation can exclusively own the renewable resources by which it lives. We hold the commonwealth in trust for prosperity, and to lessen or destroy it is to commit treason against the future"
During the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, several events occurred which raised the public awareness of harm to the environment caused by man. In 1954, the 23 man crew of the Japanese fishing vessel Lucky Dragon was exposed to radioactive fallout from a hydrogen bomb test at Bikini Atoll, in 1969, an ecologically catastrophic oil spill from an offshore well in California's Santa Barbara Channel, Barry Commoner's protest against nuclear testing, Rachel Carson's book Silent Spring, Paul R. Ehrlich's The Population Bomb all added anxiety about the environment. Pictures of Earth from space emphasized that the earth was small and fragile.
As the public became more aware of environmental issues, concern about air pollution, water pollution, solid waste disposal, dwindling energy resources, radiation, pesticide poisoning (particularly as described in Rachel Carson's influential Silent Spring, 1962), noise pollution, and other environmental problems engaged a broadening number of sympathizers. That public support for environmental concerns was widespread became clear in the Earth Day demonstrations of 1970.
In the modern wilderness preservation movement, important philosophical roles are played by the writings of John Muir who had been activist in the late 19th and early 20th century. Along with Muir perhaps most influential in the modern movement is Henry David Thoreau who published Walden in 1854. Also important was forester and ecologist Aldo Leopold, one of the founders of the Wilderness Society in 1935, who wrote a classic of nature observation and ethical philosophy, A Sand County Almanac, published in 1949. Other philosophical foundations were established by Ralph Waldo Emerson and Thomas Jefferson.
There is also a growing movement of campers and other people who enjoy outdoor recreation activities to help preserve the environment while spending time in the wilderness.
The anti-nuclear movement in the United States consists of more than 80 anti-nuclear groups which have acted to oppose nuclear power or nuclear weapons, or both, in the United States. These groups include the Abalone Alliance, Clamshell Alliance, Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, Nuclear Information and Resource Service, and Physicians for Social Responsibility. The anti-nuclear movement has delayed construction or halted commitments to build some new nuclear plants, and has pressured the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to enforce and strengthen the safety regulations for nuclear power plants.
Anti-nuclear protests reached a peak in the 1970s and 1980s and grew out of the environmental movement. Campaigns which captured national public attention involved the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant, Seabrook Station Nuclear Power Plant, Diablo Canyon Power Plant, Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant, and Three Mile Island. On June 12, 1982, one million people demonstrated in New York City's Central Park against nuclear weapons and for an end to the cold war arms race. It was the largest anti-nuclear protest and the largest political demonstration in American history. International Day of Nuclear Disarmament protests were held on June 20, 1983 at 50 sites across the United States. There were many Nevada Desert Experience protests and peace camps at the Nevada Test Site during the 1980s and 1990s.
More recent campaigning by anti-nuclear groups has related to several nuclear power plants including the Enrico Fermi Nuclear Power Plant, Indian Point Energy Center, Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station, Pilgrim Nuclear Generating Station, Salem Nuclear Power Plant, and Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant. There have also been campaigns relating to the Y-12 Nuclear Weapons Plant, the Idaho National Laboratory, proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository, the Hanford Site, the Nevada Test Site, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and transportation of nuclear waste from the Los Alamos National Laboratory.
Some scientists and engineers have expressed reservations about nuclear power, including: Barry Commoner, S. David Freeman, John Gofman, Arnold Gundersen, Mark Z. Jacobson, Amory Lovins, Arjun Makhijani, Gregory Minor, Joseph Romm and Benjamin K. Sovacool. Scientists who have opposed nuclear weapons include Linus Pauling and Eugene Rabinowitch.
Antitoxics groups are a subgroup that is affiliated with the Environmental Movement in the United States, that is primarily concerned with the effects that cities and their by products have on humans. This aspect of the movement is a self-proclaimed "movement of housewives". Concern around the issues of ground water contamination and air pollution rose in the early 1980s and individuals involved in antitoxics groups claim that they are concerned for the health of their families. A prominent case can be seen in the Love Canal Homeowner's association (LCHA); in this case a housing development was built on a site that had been used for toxic dumping by the Hooker Chemical Company. As a result of this dumping the residents had symptoms of skin irritation, Lois Gibbs, a resident of the development, started a grassroots campaign for reparations. Eventual success led to the government having to purchase homes that were sold in the development.
Prior to the 1970s the protection of basic air and water supplies was a matter mainly left to each state. During the 1970s, primary responsibility for clean air and water shifted to the federal government. Growing concerns, both environmental and economic, from cities and towns as well as sportsman and other local groups, and senators such as Maine's Edmund S. Muskie, led to passage of extensive legislation, notably the Clean Air Act of 1970 and the Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972. Other legislation included the 1970 National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which established the Council on Environmental Quality; the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act of 1972; the Endangered Species Act of 1973, the Safe Drinking Water Act (1974), the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (1976), the Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1977, which became known as the Clean Water Act, and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, commonly known as the Superfund Act (1980). These laws regulated public drinking water systems, toxic substances, pesticides, and ocean dumping; and protected wildlife, wilderness, and wild and scenic rivers. Moreover, the new laws provide for pollution research, standard setting, contaminated site cleanup, monitoring, and enforcement.
The creation of these laws led to a major shift in the environmental movement. Groups such as the Sierra Club shifted focus from local issues to becoming a lobby in Washington and new groups, for example, the Natural Resources Defense Council and Environmental Defense, arose to influence politics as well. (Larson)
In the 1980s President Ronald Reagan sought to curtail scope of environmental protection taking steps such as appointing James G. Watt who was called one of the most "blatantly anti-environmental political appointees". The major environmental groups responded with mass mailings which led to increased membership and donations. The large environmental organization increasingly relied on ties within Washington, D.C. to advance their environmental agenda. At the same time membership in environmental groups became more suburban and urban. Groups such as animal rights, and the gun control lobby became linked with environmentalism while sportsmen, farmers and ranchers were no longer influential in the movement.
When industry groups lobbied to weaken regulation and a backlash against environmental regulations, the so-called wise use movement gained importance and influence. The wise use movement and anti-environmental groups were able to portray environmentalist as out of touch with mainstream values. (Larson)
In 2004, with the environmental movement seemingly stalled, some environmentalists started questioning whether "environmentalism" was even a useful political framework. According to a controversial essay titled "The Death of Environmentalism " (Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus, 2004) American environmentalism has been remarkably successful in protecting the air, water, and large stretches of wilderness in North America and Europe, but these environmentalists have stagnated as a vital force for cultural and political change.
Shellenberger and Nordhaus wrote, "Today environmentalism is just another special interest. Evidence for this can be found in its concepts, its proposals, and its reasoning. What stands out is how arbitrary environmental leaders are about what gets counted and what doesn't as 'environmental.' Most of the movement's leading thinkers, funders, and advocates do not question their most basic assumptions about who we are, what we stand for, and what it is that we should be doing." Their essay was followed by a speech in San Francisco called "Is Environmentalism Dead?" by former Sierra Club President, Adam Werbach, who argued for the evolution of environmentalism into a more expansive, relevant and powerful progressive politics. Werbach endorsed building an environmental movement that is more relevant to average Americans, and controversially chose to lead Wal-Mart's effort to take sustainability mainstream.
These "post-environmental movement" thinkers argue that the ecological crises the human species faces in the 21st century are qualitatively different from the problems the environmental movement was created to address in the 1960s and 1970s. They argue that climate change and habitat destruction are global and more complex, therefore demanding far deeper transformations of the economy, the culture and political life. The consequence of environmentalism's outdated and arbitrary definition, they argue, is political irrelevancy.
These "politically neutral" groups tend to avoid global conflicts and view the settlement of inter-human conflict as separate from regard for nature – in direct contradiction to the ecology movement and peace movement which have increasingly close links: while Green Parties, Greenpeace, and groups like the ACTivist Magazine regard ecology, biodiversity, and an end to non-human extinction as an absolute basis for peace, the local groups may not, and see a high degree of global competition and conflict as justifiable if it lets them preserve their own local uniqueness. However, such groups tend not to "burn out" and to sustain for long periods, even generations, protecting the same local treasures.
Local groups increasingly find that they benefit from collaboration, e.g. on consensus decision making methods, or making simultaneous policy, or relying on common legal resources, or even sometimes a common glossary. However, the differences between the various groups that make up the modern environmental movement tend to outweigh such similarities, and they rarely co-operate directly except on a few major global questions. In a notable exception, over 1,000 local groups from around the country united for a single day of action as part of the Step It Up 2007 campaign for real solutions to global warming.
Groups such as The Bioregional Revolution are calling on the need to bridge these differences, as the converging problems of the 21st century they claim compel the people to unite and to take decisive action. They promote bioregionalism, permaculture, and local economies as solutions to these problems, overpopulation, global warming, global epidemics, and water scarcity, but most notably to "peak oil" – the prediction that the country is likely to reach a maximum in global oil production which could spell drastic changes in many aspects of the residents' everyday lives.
Many environmental lawsuits turn on the question of who has standing; are the legal issues limited to property owners, or does the general public have a right to intervene? Christopher D. Stone's 1972 essay, "Should trees have standing?" seriously addressed the question of whether natural objects themselves should have legal rights, including the right to participate in lawsuits. Stone suggested that there was nothing absurd in this view, and noted that many entities now regarded as having legal rights were, in the past, regarded as "things" that were regarded as legally rightless; for example, aliens, children and women. His essay is sometimes regarded as an example of the fallacy of hypostatization.
One of the earliest lawsuits to establish that citizens may sue for environmental and aesthetic harms was Scenic Hudson Preservation Conference v. Federal Power Commission, decided in 1965 by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. The case helped halt the construction of a power plant on Storm King Mountain in New York State. See also United States environmental law and David Sive, an attorney who was involved in the case.
Conservation biology is an important and rapidly developing field.
One way to avoid the stigma of an "ism" was to evolve early anti-nuclear groups into the more scientific Green Parties, sprout new NGOs such as Greenpeace and Earth Action, and devoted groups to protecting global biodiversity and preventing global warming and climate change. But in the process, much of the emotional appeal, and many of the original aesthetic goals were lost. Nonetheless, these groups have well-defined ethical and political views, backed by science.
Some people are skeptical of the environmental movement and feel that it is more deeply rooted in politics than science. Although there have been serious debates about climate change and effects of some pesticides and herbicides that mimic animal sex steroids, science has shown that some of the claims of environmentalists have credence.
Claims made by environmentalists may be perceived as veiled attacks on industry and globalization rather than legitimate environmental concerns. Detractors note that a significant number of environmental theories and predictions have been inaccurate and suggest that the regulations recommended by environmentalists will more likely harm society rather than help nature.
Specific examples include when Rachel Carson, in her book Silent Spring, suggested that the pesticide DDT caused cancer and drastically harmed ecosystems. DDT is highly toxic to aquatic life, including crawfish, daphnids, sea shrimp and many species of fish. However, DDT is also used to control malaria.
Prominent novelist and Harvard Medical School graduate Michael Crichton appeared before the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works to address such concerns and recommended the employment of double-blind experimentation in environmental research. Crichton suggested that because environmental issues are so political in nature, policy makers need neutral, conclusive data to base their decisions on, rather than conjecture and rhetoric, and double-blind experiments are the most efficient way to achieve that aim.
A consistent theme acknowledged by both supporters and critics (though more commonly vocalized by critics) of the environmental movement is that we know very little about the Earth we live in. Most fields of environmental studies are relatively new, and therefore what research we have is limited and does not date far enough back for us to completely understand long-term environmental trends. This has led a number of environmentalists to support the use of the precautionary principle in policy making, which ultimately asserts that we don't know how certain actions may affect the environment, and because there is reason to believe they may cause more harm than good we should refrain from such actions.
In the December 1994 Wild Forest Review, Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair wrote "The mainstream environmental movement was elitist, highly paid, detached from the people, indifferent to the working class, and a firm ally of big government.…The environmental movement is now accurately perceived as just another well-financed and cynical special interest group, its rancid infrastructure supported by Democratic Party operatives and millions in grants from corporate foundations."
Historian and President of the American Historical Association William Cronon has criticized the modern environmental movement for having a romantic idealizations of wilderness. Cronon writes "wilderness serves as the unexamined foundation on which so many of the quasi-religious values of modern environmentalism rest." Cronon claims that "to the extent that we live in an urban-industrial civilization but at the same time pretend to ourselves that our real home is in the wilderness, to just that extent we give ourselves permission to evade responsibility for the lives we actually lead."
Similarly Michael Pollan has argued that the wilderness ethic leads people to dismiss areas whose wildness is less than absolute. In his book Second Nature, Pollan writes that "once a landscape is no longer 'virgin' it is typically written off as fallen, lost to nature, irredeemable."
Within the environmental movement an ideological debate has taken place between those with an ecocentric view point and an anthropocentric view point. The anthropocentric view has been seen as the conservationist approach to the environment with nature viewed, at least in part, as resource to be used by man. In contrast to the conservationist approach the ecocentric view, associated with John Muir, Henry David Thoreau and William Wordsworth referred to as the preservationist movement. This approach sees nature in a more spiritual way. Many environmental historians consider the split between John Muir and Gifford Pinchot. During the preservation / conservation debate the term preservationist become to be seen as a pejorative term.
While the ecocentric view focused on biodiversity and wilderness protection the anthropocentric view focus on urban pollution and social justice. Some environmental writers, for example William Cronon have criticized the ecocentric view as have a dualist view as man being separate from nature. Critics of the anthropocentric view point contend that the environmental movement has been taken over by so-called leftist with an agenda beyond environmental protection.
Several books after the middle of the 20th century contributed to the rise of American environmentalism (as distinct from the longer-established conservation movement), especially among college and university students and the more literate public. One was the publication of the first textbook on ecology, Fundamentals of Ecology, by Eugene Odum and Howard Odum, in 1953. Another was the appearance of the best-seller Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, in 1962. Her book brought about a whole new interpretation on pesticides by exposing their harmful effects in nature. From this book many began referring to Carson as the "mother of the environmental movement". Another influential development was a 1965 lawsuit, Scenic Hudson Preservation Conference v. Federal Power Commission, opposing the construction of a power plant on Storm King Mountain, which is said to have given birth to modern United States environmental law. The wide popularity of The Whole Earth Catalogs, starting in 1968, was quite influential among the younger, hands-on, activist generation of the 1960s and 1970s. Recently, in addition to opposing environmental degradation and protecting wilderness, an increased focus on coexisting with natural biodiversity has appeared, a strain that is apparent in the movement for sustainable agriculture and in the concept of Reconciliation Ecology.
Environmentalists became much more influential in American politics after the creation or strengthening of numerous US environmental laws, including the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act and the formation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1970. These successes were followed by the enactment of a whole series of laws regulating waste (Resource Conservation and Recovery Act), toxic substances (Toxic Substances Control Act), pesticides (FIFRA: Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act), clean-up of polluted sites (Superfund), protection of endangered species (Endangered Species Act), and more.
Fewer environmental laws have been passed in the last decade as corporations and other conservative interests have increased their influence over American politics. Corporate cooperation against environmental lobbyists has been organized by the Wise Use group. At the same time, many environmentalists have been turning toward other means of persuasion, such as working with business, community, and other partners to promote sustainable development.
Much environmental activism is directed towards conservation as well as the prevention or elimination of pollution. However, conservation movements, ecology movements, peace movements, green parties, green- and eco-anarchists often subscribe to very different ideologies, while supporting the same goals as those who call themselves "environmentalists". To outsiders, these groups or factions can appear to be indistinguishable.
As human population and industrial activity continue to increase, environmentalists often find themselves in serious conflict with those who believe that human and industrial activities should not be overly regulated or restricted, such as some libertarians.
Environmentalists often clash with others, particularly "corporate interests," over issues of the management of natural resources, like in the case of the atmosphere as a "carbon dump", the focus of climate change, and global warming controversy. They usually seek to protect commonly owned or unowned resources for future generations.
While most environmentalists are mainstream and peaceful, a small minority are more radical in their approach. Adherents of radical environmentalism and ecological anarchism are involved in direct action campaigns to protect the environment. Some campaigns have employed controversial tactics including sabotage, blockades, and arson, while most use peaceful protests such as marches, tree-sitting, and the like. There is substantial debate within the environmental movement as to the acceptability of these tactics, but almost all environmentalists condemn violent actions that can harm humans.
More than 80 anti-nuclear groups are operating, or have operated, in the United States. These include Abalone Alliance, Clamshell Alliance, Greenpeace USA, Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, Musicians United for Safe Energy, Nevada Desert Experience, Nuclear Control Institute, Nuclear Information and Resource Service, Public Citizen Energy Program, Shad Alliance, and the Sierra Club. These are direct action, environmental, health, and public interest organizations who oppose nuclear weapons and/or nuclear power. In 1992, the chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said that "his agency had been pushed in the right direction on safety issues because of the pleas and protests of nuclear watchdog groups".Some of the most influential groups in the anti-nuclear movement have had members who included Nobel Laureates (e.g., Linus Pauling and Hermann Joseph Muller). These scientists have belonged primarily to two groups: the Federation of American Scientists, and the Committee for Nuclear Responsibility.Catherine Kerr (environmentalist)
Catherine "Kay" Kerr (1911 – 2010) was a pioneer in environmentalism. She, along with friends Sylvia McLaughlin and Esther Gulick, founded the Save San Francisco Bay Association in 1961 which eventually became Save The Bay. The three friends also founded the Bay Conservation and Development Commission, the first coastal protection agency in America. Their efforts helped spark the environmental movement in the United States.Throughout her life, Kerr fought to protect the San Francisco Bay from development and landfill and to restore wetlands and estuarine habitat.Community-supported agriculture
Community-supported agriculture (CSA model) is a system that connects the producer and consumers within the food system more closely by allowing the consumer to subscribe to the harvest of a certain farm or group of farms. It is an alternative socioeconomic model of agriculture and food distribution that allows the producer and consumer to share the risks of farming. The model is a subcategory of civic agriculture that has an overarching goal of strengthening a sense of community through local markets.In return for subscribing to a harvest, subscribers receive either a weekly or bi-weekly box of produce or other farm goods. This includes in-season fruits and vegetables and can expand to dried goods, eggs, milk, meat, etc. Typically, farmers try to cultivate a relationship with subscribers by sending weekly letters of what is happening on the farm, inviting them for harvest, or holding an open-farm event. Some CSAs provide for contributions of labor in lieu of a portion of subscription costs.The term CSA is mostly used in the United States and Canada, but a variety of similar production and economic sub-systems are in use worldwide.DDT
Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, commonly known as DDT, is a colorless, tasteless, and almost odorless crystalline chemical compound, an organochlorine, originally developed as an insecticide, and ultimately becoming infamous for its environmental impacts. It was first synthesized in 1874 by the Austrian chemist Othmar Zeidler. DDT's insecticidal action was discovered by the Swiss chemist Paul Hermann Müller in 1939. DDT was used in the second half of World War II to control malaria and typhus among civilians and troops. Müller was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine "for his discovery of the high efficiency of DDT as a contact poison against several arthropods" in 1948.By October 1945, DDT was available for public sale in the United States. Although it was promoted by government and industry for use as an agricultural and household pesticide, there were also concerns about its use from the beginning. Opposition to DDT was focused by the 1962 publication of Rachel Carson's book Silent Spring. It cataloged environmental impacts that coincided with widespread use of DDT in agriculture in the United States, and it questioned the logic of broadcasting potentially dangerous chemicals into the environment with little prior investigation of their environmental and health effects. The book claimed that DDT and other pesticides had been shown to cause cancer and that their agricultural use was a threat to wildlife, particularly birds. Its publication was a seminal event for the environmental movement and resulted in a large public outcry that eventually led, in 1972, to a ban on DDT's agricultural use in the United States. A worldwide ban on agricultural use was formalized under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, but its limited and still-controversial use in disease vector control continues, because of its effectiveness in reducing malarial infections, balanced by environmental and other health concerns.
Along with the passage of the Endangered Species Act, the United States ban on DDT is a major factor in the comeback of the bald eagle (the national bird of the United States) and the peregrine falcon from near-extinction in the contiguous United States.Deforestation in the United States
Deforestation in the United States is an ongoing environmental issue that attracts protests from environmentalists. Prior to the arrival of European-Americans, about one half of the United States land area was forest, about 1,023,000,000 acres (4,140,000 km2) estimated in 1630. Recently, the Forest Service reported total forestation as 766,000,000 acres (3,100,000 km2) in 2012. The majority of deforestation took place prior to 1910 with the Forest Service reporting the minimum forestation as 721,000,000 acres (2,920,000 km2) around 1920. The forest resources of the United States have remained relatively constant through the 20th century.The 2005 Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Global Forest Resources Assessment ranked the United States as seventh highest country losing its old growth forests, a vast majority of which were removed prior to the 20th century.Earth Days
Earth Days is a 2009 documentary film about the history of the environmental movement in the United States, directed by Robert Stone and distributed by Zeitgeist Films in theaters. Earth Days premiered on US television April 19 2010 as part of the American Experience series on PBS.Environmental policy of the United States
The environmental policy of the United States is a federal governmental action to regulate activities that have an environmental impact in the United States. The goal of environmental policy is to protect the environment for future generations while interfering as little as possible with the efficiency of commerce or the liberty of the people and to limit inequity in who is burdened with environmental costs. As his first official act bringing in the 1970s, President Richard Nixon signed the U.S. National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) into law on New Years Day, 1970. Also in the same year, American starts to celebrate the first earth day, which is "the big bang of U.S. environmental politics, launching the country on a sweeping social learning curve about ecological management never before experienced or attempted in any other nation"(RosenBaum, 2016, p. 9). NEPA established a comprehensive US national environmental policy and created the requirement to prepare an environmental impact statement for “major federal actions significantly affecting the quality of the environment.” Eccleston has called NEPA, the world's “environmental Magna Carta”.As a result of the environmental movement in the United States, it continued to mature in the 1970s during which several environmental laws were passed, regulating air and water pollution and forming the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Partially due to the high costs associated with these regulations, there has been a backlash from business and politically conservative interests, limiting increases to environmental regulatory budgets and slowing efforts to protect the environment. Since the 1970s, despite frequent legislative gridlock, there have been significant achievements in environmental regulation, including increases in air and water quality and, to a lesser degree, control of hazardous waste. Due to increasing scientific consensus on global warming and political pressure from environmental groups, modifications to the United States energy policy and limits on greenhouse gas have been suggested.
As established under NEPA, the US was the first nation in the world to introduce the concept of preparing an environmental impact statement (EIS) to evaluate the alternatives and impacts of proposed federal actions. The EIS is designed to forge federal policies, programs, projects, and plans. A large percentage of nations around the world have adopted provisions that emulate the American EIS process.Environmentalism
Environmentalism or environmental rights is a broad philosophy, ideology, and social movement regarding concerns for environmental protection and improvement of the health of the environment, particularly as the measure for this health seeks to incorporate the impact of changes to the environment on humans, animals, plants and non-living matter. While environmentalism focuses more on the environmental and nature-related aspects of green ideology and politics, ecology combines the ideology of social ecology and environmentalism. Ecology is more commonly used in continental European languages while ‘environmentalism’ is more commonly used in English but the words have slightly different connotations.
Environmentalism advocates the preservation, restoration and/or improvement of the natural environment and critical earth system elements or processes such as the climate, and may be referred to as a movement to control pollution or protect plant and animal diversity. For this reason, concepts such as a land ethic, environmental ethics, biodiversity, ecology, and the biophilia hypothesis figure predominantly.
At its crux, environmentalism is an attempt to balance relations between humans and the various natural systems on which they depend in such a way that all the components are accorded a proper degree of sustainability. The exact measures and outcomes of this balance is controversial and there are many different ways for environmental concerns to be expressed in practice. Environmentalism and environmental concerns are often represented by the colour green, but this association has been appropriated by the marketing industries for the tactic known as greenwashing.
Environmentalism is opposed by anti-environmentalism, which says that the Earth is less fragile than some environmentalists maintain, and portrays environmentalism as overreacting to the human contribution to climate change or opposing human advancement.Evangelical environmentalism
Evangelical environmentalism is an environmental movement in the United States in which some Evangelical Christians have emphasized biblical mandates concerning humanity's role as steward and subsequent responsibility for the care taking of Creation. While the movement has focused on different environmental issues, it is best known for its focus of addressing climate action from a biblically-grounded theological perspective.
Some Evangelical groups have allied with environmentalists in teaching knowledge and developing awareness of global warming. The National Association of Evangelicals, a nonprofit organization, is working to encourage lawmakers to pass a law that would put restrictions on carbon emissions in the United States.Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is the United States federal agency that regulates the transmission and wholesale sale of electricity and natural gas in interstate commerce and regulates the transportation of oil by pipeline in interstate commerce. FERC also reviews proposals to build interstate natural gas pipelines, natural gas storage projects, and liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals, in addition to licensing non-federal hydropower projects.
FERC is composed of five commissioners who are nominated by the U.S. President and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. There may be no more than three commissioners of one political party serving on the commission at any given time.Index of United States-related articles
The following is an alphabetical list of articles related to the United States of America.Index of environmental articles
The natural environment, commonly referred to simply as the environment, includes all living and non-living things occurring naturally on Earth.
The natural environment includes complete ecological units that function as natural systems without massive human intervention, including all vegetation, animals, microorganisms, soil, rocks, atmosphere and natural phenomena that occur within their boundaries. Also part of the natural environment is universal natural resources and physical phenomena that lack clear-cut boundaries, such as air, water, and climate.Index of sustainability articles
This page is an index of sustainability articles.Pollution in the United States
As with many countries pollution in the United States is a concern for environmental organizations, government agencies and individuals.
Pollution from U.S. manufacturing has declined massively since 1990 (despite an increase in production). A 2018 study in the American Economic Review found that environmental regulation is the primary driver of the reduction in pollution.Rainforest Action Network
Rainforest Action Network (RAN) is an environmental organization based in San Francisco, California, United States. The organization was founded by Randy "Hurricane" Hayes and Mike Roselle in 1985, and first gained national prominence with a grassroots organizing campaign that in 1987 succeeded in convincing Burger King to cancel $31 million worth of destructive Central American rainforest beef contracts. Protecting forests and challenging corporate power has remained a key focus of RAN’s campaigns since, and has led RAN into campaigns that have led to transformative policy changes across home building, wood purchasing and supplying, automobile, fashion, paper and banking industries.Save the Bay
Save The Bay is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving San Francisco Bay and its related estuarine habitat areas. Founded by Catherine Kerr, Sylvia McLaughlin, and Esther Gulick in 1961, the organization grew into a body that not only achieved its namesake but also inspired analogous organizations dedicated to other environmental and other political causes. The organization continues to fight to protect the bay from development and landfill and to oppose redevelopment of salt flats; it instead encourages their restoration to a natural state.The Green Collar Economy
The Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems is a 2008 book by Van Jones. It outlines a plan for simultaneously solving socioeconomic inequality and environmental problems. The book has received favorable reviews from Al Gore, Nancy Pelosi, Laurie David, Paul Hawken, Winona LaDuke and Ben Jealous. The Green Collar Economy is the first environmental book written by an African-American to make the New York Times bestseller list.The book is a detailed proposal for a "green new deal". Jones describes the opportunity to create thousands of low- and medium-skill jobs that help conserve energy (for example, insulating older homes and buildings) or use alternate energy sources (solar panels). He emphasizes that these would be local jobs that could not be exported. With appropriate incentives and programs, the jobs could be created in inner cities and thereby help lift people out of poverty. According to Jones, Americans can ensure the "approaching green wave lifts all boats," and calls for a mass movement to tackle the United States' ecological and economic crises.United States environmental law
United States environmental law concerns legal standards to protect human health and improve the natural environment of the United States. While subject to criticism at home and abroad on issues of protection, enforcement, and over-regulation, the country remains an important source of environmental legal expertise and experience.
United States articles
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