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HISTORY OF ENVIRONMENTALISM

Osman Fedai
ESC 351. 01
June 6, 2016
Nilgn Clz

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INTRODUCTION
The First Roots of Environmentalism
The origins of the environmental movement mostly laid in the response to increasing
levels of smoke pollution in the atmosphere during the Industrial Revolution during 18th-19th
century. The emergence of great factories and the concomitant immense growth in coal
consumption gave rise to an unprecedented level of air pollution in industrial centers; after
1900 the large volume of industrial chemical discharges added to the growing load of
untreated human waste. The first large-scale, modern environmental laws came in the form of
Britain's Alkali Acts, passed in 1863, in order to regulate the air pollution (gaseous
hydrochloric acid) given off by the Leblanc process, used to produce soda ash. An Alkali
inspector and four sub-inspectors were appointed to curb this pollution. The responsibilities of
the inspectorate were gradually expanded, culminating in the Alkali Order 1958 which placed
all major heavy industries that emitted smoke, grit, dust and fumes under supervision.
The late 19th century also witnessed the first wildlife conservation laws. The zoologist
Alfred Newton published a series of investigations into the Desirability of establishing a
'Close-time' for the preservation of indigenous animals between 1872 and 1903. The advocacy
for the legislations to protect animals during the hunting season paved the way for the
formation of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and influenced the passage of the
Sea Birds Preservation Act in 1869 as the first nature protection law in the world.
For most of the century from 1850 to 1950, it should be stated that the primary
environmental cause was the mitigation of air pollution. The Coal Smoke Abatement Society
was formed in 1898 making it one of the oldest environmental NGOs. It was founded by artist

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Sir William Blake Richmond. Although there were earlier pieces of legislation, the Public
Health Act 1875 required all furnaces and fireplaces to consume their own smoke. It also
provided for sanctions against factories that emitted large amounts of black smoke. The
provisions of this law were extended in 1926 with the Smoke Abatement Act, including other
emissions, such as soot, ash and gritty particles and to empower local authorities to impose
their own regulations.
The Birth of Environmentalism
Systematic efforts on behalf of the protection of the environment began in the late 19th
century; it grew out of the amenity movement in Britain in the 1870s, as a reaction to
industrialization, the rapid growth of cities, and worsening air and water pollution in big
cities. Along with the formation of the Commons Preservation Society in 1865, the movement
championed rural preservation against the encroachments of industrialisation. Robert Hunter,
solicitor for the society, worked with Hardwicke Rawnsley, Octavia Hill, and John Ruskin to
lead a successful campaign to prevent the construction of railways to carry slate from the
quarries, which would have ruined the unspoilt valleys of Newlands and Ennerdale. This
success led to the formation of the Lake District Defence Society which later became The
Friends of the Lake District.
In the year of 1893; Hill, Hunter and Rawnsley agreed to set up a national body to
coordinate environmental conservation efforts across the country; the "National Trust for
Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty" was formally inaugurated in 1894. The
organisation obtained secure footing through the 1907 National Trust Bill, which gave the
trust the status of a statutory Corporation, the bill was passed in August 1907. John Ruskin,
William Morris, George Bernard Shaw and Edward Carpenter, who were all against
consumerism and all notable romantic artists were active in the Back-to-Nature Movement

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that which anticipated the romantic ideal of modern environmentalism, also influencing from
the romanticism. The movement was mostly a reaction to the urban conditions of the
industrial towns, where sanitation was awful, pollution levels were high. These idealists
romanticists championed the rural life as a mythical utopia and advocated returning to it.
These ideas also inspired several environmental groups in the UK, such as the Royal
Society for the Protection of Birds, in 1889 by Emily Williamson which aimed to campaign
for the protection of the indigenous birds of the island. The Society attracted growing support
from the suburban middle-classes as well as support from many other influential figures, such
as the ornithologist Professor Alfred Newton. By 1900, public support for the organisation
had grown, with reaching to approximately 25,000 members. The Garden city movement
incorporated many environmental concerns into its urban planning manifesto; the Socialist
League and The Clarion movement in the UK which was a socialist publication also began to
advocate measures of nature conservation in their writings.
The environmentalism movement in the United States started to be dominant in the
late 19th century, out of concerns for protecting the natural resources of the West. Germanborn forester Carl Schenck developed the first American Forestry School in 1895, National
Forest Service was founded in order to pursue policies about the protection of the forests in
the US in 1905. Scientist and naturalists such as John Muir and Henry David Thoreau was the
notable pioneers of the environmentalism movement during that period, by making key
philosophical contributions with their boks. Henry David Thoreau was focused on the peoples'
relationship with nature and studied this by living close to nature in a simple life. He
published his experiences in the book named Walden or Life in The Woods, which he argued
that people should become more close with nature. His book was important in that it was the
Thoreaus reflections upon simple living in natural surroundings, within a harmony with
natural life. In this book, he gave a detailed information about his experiences about natural

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life in the woods near Walden Pond, based on the themes of simplicity, self-reliance and
progress. He also called for the establishment of nationally preserves of the forest habitats
in the United States. Regarding to John Muir who was known also as John of the Mountains,
came to believe in nature's inherent right, especially after spending time hiking in Yosemite
Valley and studying both the ecology and geology. He successfully lobbied congress to form
Yosemite National Park and founded the Sierra Club in 1892. The conservationist principles
as well as the belief in an inherent right of nature were to become the driving force of modern
environmentalism.
The Forestry Commission which was set up in 1919 in Britain was one of the first
governmental institution which aimed to increase the amount of woodland in Britain by
buying land for afforestation and reforestation. The commission was also tasked with
promoting forestry and the production of timber for trade. During the 1920s the Commission
focused on acquiring land to begin planting out new forests in the Britain geography; much of
the land was previously used for agricultural production. By 1939, the Forestry Commission
was the largest landowner in Britain, by producing also timber from the state owned forests.
Outside the British case, another state-led environmental movement was in the Nazi Germany.
During the 1930s, the Nazis had elements that were supportive of animal rights, zoos and
wildlife. took several measures to ensure their protection. Since the ideology of Nazism
focused mostly on the rural peasant life and the preservation of a healthy German nation as
well as with creation of life space (Lebensraum), the measures led by the Nazi state went hand
in hand with their governmental policies, it can be easily said. In 1933, the government
created a stringent animal-protection law and Das Reichsjagdgesetz (The Reich Hunting Law)
was enacted in 1934 which limited hunting in the German forests. Several Nazis were
environmentalists like Rudolf Hess were supported by the Nazi Party organs during their
researches about species protection and animal welfare that were significant issues in the

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regime.[25] For instance, in 1934, the regime enacted the "Reich Nature Protection
Law(Reichsnaturschutzgesetz), the 1935 Law Against Forest Devastation, limiting cutting to
2.5 percent of an estate, and the Law of December 13,1934 named Concerning the Protection
of the Racial Purity of Forest Plants can also be given as examples.
One of the main tools to enhance public awareness of the need for protecting natural
life was mostly photography and recruiting members to environmental organizations. David
Brower who was the founder of the Friends of the Earth U.S organization, Ansel
Adams and Nancy Newhall created the Sierra Club Exhibit Format Series in the US. This was
important in that helped to raise public environmental awareness among and brought a rapidly
increasing flood of new members to the Sierra Club and to the environmental movement in
general. For instance, photograph collection named "This Is Dinosaur" edited by Wallace
Stegner with photographs by Martin Litton and Philip Hyde helped to prevent the building of
dams within Dinosaur National Monument where on the shoutheast flank of Utinai
Mountains, which located in the border between Colorado and Utah. The powerful and
effective use of photography with hard-hitting advertising, lobbying, book distribution, letter
writing campaigns for conservation of natural dated back already to the creation of Yosemite
National Park, when photographs persuaded Abraham Lincoln conserving the beautiful
glacier carved landscape for all time. The Sierra Club Exhibit Format Series raised public
opposition to building dams in the Grand Canyon and protected many other national treasures.
The Sierra Club often led a coalition of many environmental groups including the Wilderness
Society and many others. After a focus on preserving wilderness in the 1950s and 1960s, the
Sierra Club and other groups broadened their focus to include such issues as air and water
pollution, population concern, and curbing the exploitation of natural resources.

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The Environmentalism after The Second World War


After the Second World War, it should be said that the publication of Rachael Carsons
book Silent Spring in 1962 was the first and most important turning point in the emergence
and acceptance of the idea of environmentalism. Her book focused on the environmental
impacts of the indiscriminate spraying of DDT in the United States and it questioned the logic
of releasing large amounts of chemicals into the environment especially on the soil- without
understanding their effects on ecology or human health. In her book, Carson argued that
human beings and nature should be perceived as interdependent, DDT and other pesticides
may cause cancer and that their agricultural use by farmers was a huge threat to the wildlife,
particularly birds. In order to understand Carsons arguments, it would be better to mention
about the impacts of DDT. DDT and other related substances were introduced on a worlwide
basis after Second World War and they managed to prove success in the control of insects like
malaria mosquitos. Nevertheless, it was declared that DDT was persistent, capable of wide
dispersal by reaching high levels of concentration in animals at the top levels. For instance,
DDT levels in rivers and estuary waters were low, approximately 0.00005 parts per million.
However, the zooplankton and shrimps contain higher levels of it; 0.16 parts per million while
fish-eating birds like gulls have the highest levels of all, approximately 75.50 parts per
million. Another major effect of DDT was on sea-birds. From 1947 to 1967, the population of
the bald eagle (Haliaetus leucocephalus), peregrine falcon (falco peregrinus) and osprey
(Pandion haliateus) in England decreased as a result of the DDT usage and its effects. In this
sense, Carsons book was important in terms of raising awareness about the usage of DDT. It
bore its fruits in that the resulting public concern paved the way for the creation of the United
States Environmental Protection Agency in 1970 which banned the agricultural the usage of
DDT in the United States in 1972. The book's legacy helped for the producing a greater
awareness of environmental issues and interest about how people affect the environment.

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During late 1960s, the two important environmental organizations were also founded. One of
them was Greenpeace which was founded in 1969, in the city of Vancouver and the other one
was Friends of the Earth U.S, founded by the notable environmentalist David Brower, in
1969. The common issues that these two organizations campaigned were mostly climate
change, sustainability, deforestation, nuclear technology agriculture security.
Meanwhile, the environmentalism also started to gain support in the political arena.
The world's first political parties to campaign about predominantly environmental issues were
the United Tasmania Group Tasmania, Australia and the Values Party of New Zealand. For
the European continent, the first green party was the Green Party of Switzerland (Grne Partei
der Schweiz), founded in 1972 in the Swiss canton of Neuchtel. The first national green
party in Europe was PEOPLE Party which founded in Britain in February 1973, which
eventually divided into the Ecology Party, and then the Green Party. The policies of the
PEOPLE Party were mostly focused on social security, employment, economics,
sustainability, within the ecological perspective. Rising awareness about the environmental
issues also became important in the developing world; the Chipko movement was founded in
India, in 1973 under the influence of Mohandas Gandhi. The Chipko Movement aimed to
struggle towards deforestation by literally hugging trees within peaceful resistance in the
Gapashwar region of India. One of the Chipko's most important features was the mass
participation of female villagers from small Indian villages and their peaceful methods of
protest and slogan "ecology is permanent economy" were influential for the non-European
environmental movements.
Another important cornerstone in the environmentalism history was the creation of an
Earth Day. Earth Day was first observed in San Francisco and other cities on March 21, 1970,
the first day of spring.The main goal of this introduction was to raise awareness to
environmental issues. On March 21, 1971 United Nations Secretary gave a speech of a

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spaceship the Earth on Earth Day, by referring to the ecosystem services the earth supplies to
people, and hence peoples obligation to protect it.Today, Earth Day is coordinated globally
by the Earth Day Network, and is celebrated in more than 175 countries every year. In
addition, United States Environmental Protection Agency as the branch of U.S federal
government was founded in 1970, with having the goal of protecting human health and the
environment through enforcing regulations.
The UN's first major conference on international environmental issues, the United
Nations Conference on the Human Environment, known as the Stockholm Conference was
especially the first and most important World-wide conference which was held on June 516,
1972. Regarding to its significance, the conference had some successes, including the 26
principles of the Declaration of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment,
an Action Plan for the Human Environment and an Environment Fund. Another significant
outcome was the establishment of UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme),
designed to promote environmental practices across the World. UNEP has been still
coordinating summits with its all members including all European Union countries and other
European countries.
During the mid-1970s, it should be said that people began to feel that the World was
on the edge of environmental catastrophe, especially after the oil tanker spills in the Atlantic
Ocean, The Back-to-the-land movement started to form and ideas of environmental ethics
joined with anti-Vietnam War sentiments and other political issues. These individuals lived
outside normal society and started to take on some of the more radical environmental theories
such as deep ecology. Around this time more mainstream environmentalism was starting to
show force with the signing of the Endangered Species Act in 1973 and the formation of
CITES in 1975. Significant amendments and series of acts were enacted by the US
governement officials during 1970s: In 1972; Clean Water Act, Coastal Zone Management

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Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act was enected by the US governement, followed by
Energy Policy and Conservation Act, Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act in the
years of 1975, 1977. Also, Chlorofluorocarbons were firstly hypothesized by the scientists in
1974 to cause ozone thinning.
In 1979, Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution (CLRTAP) were
founded which was directed by the UN Economic Commission for Europe. In 1980s, although
many environmental diasters like Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986, Bhopal disaster in the Indian
state of Madhya Prades in 1984, Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989; Ocean Dumping Ban Act, Ocean
Dumping Ban Act,

Alternative Motor Fuels Act were introduced by the US government,

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was established by the UN in 1988 to assess the
"risk of human-induced climate change.

REFERENCES
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Ramachandra Guha. Environmentalism: A Global History. Longman World History Series,
1999.
Rachel Carson. Silent Spring. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1962.
Peter C Gould. Early Green Politics. Brighton: Harvester Press, 1988.
Jonathan Olsen. "How Green Were the Nazis? Nature, Environment, and Nation in the Third
Reich. (2007).

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http://muse.jhu.edu/login?uri=/journals/technology_and_culture/v048/48.1olsen.html
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Andrew Goudie. The Human Impact on the Natural Environment. Oxford:Basil Blackwell
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James W. Sheppard. Ethics and the Environment. Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2003.
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https://www.jstor.org/stable/40339071?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents
Roderick Frazier Nash. American Environmentalism: Readings in Conservation History.
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