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The environmental movement, a term that includes conservation and green politics, is a diverse scientific, social, and political movement for addressing environmental issues. Environmentalists advocate the sustainable management of resources and stewardship of the environment through changes in public policy and individual behavior. In its recognition of humanity as a participant in (not enemy of) ecosystems, the movement is centered on ecology, health, and human rights.
The environmental movement is an international movement, represented by a range of organizations, from the large to grassroots and varies from country to country. Due to its large membership, varying and strong beliefs, and occasionally speculative nature, the environmental movement is not always united in its goals. At its broadest, the movement includes private citizens, professionals, religious devotees, politicians, scientists, nonprofit organizations and individual advocates.
The American environmental movement has its origins in the twentieth century with grassroots movements concerned with the wilderness, pollution and human health. The conservationist movement began in the first half of the twentieth century. Pioneers of the movement called for more efficient and professional management of natural resources. They fought for reform because they believed the destruction of forests, fertile soil, minerals, wildlife and water resources would be the downfall of our society. The movement did not really take off until after World War II as people began to recognize the costs of environmental negligence, disease, and widespread air and water pollution through the occurrence of several environmental disasters that occurred post-World War II.
The early environmental movement developed with two key sides; the preservationists like John Muir and Aldo Leopold who wanted land and nature set aside for its own sake; and the conservationists such as Gifford Pinchot who wanted to manage natural resources for human use. Pinchot was an American forester and politician. He was the first Chief of the US Forest Service from 1905-1910 the first director of the Forest Services and a conservationist. John Muir founded the Sierra Club, a preservationist society, in 1892 which is now one of the largest conservation organizations in the United States. He was crucial in the formation of Yosemite National Park in 1890 and personally involved in the creation of Sequoia, Mount Rainier, Petrified Forest and Grand Canyon National Parks. He is often referred to as the “Father of Our National Park System”. Henry David Thoreau was an early preservationist, writing about wildlife in Massachusetts. Aldo Leopold wrote “A Sand County Almanac” in the 1940s. He believed in a land ethics that stated “The greatest good for the greatest number of people”; he believed in ecological awareness and preservation of ecosystems. Another important book in the promotion of the environmental movement was Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” about declining bird populations due to DDT, an insecticide, pollution and man’s attempts to control nature through use of synthetic substances. Both of these books helped bring the issues into the public eye  Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring" sold over two million copies.
The first Earth Day was celebrated on April 22, 1970. Its founder, former Wisconsin Senator, Gaylord Nelson was inspired to create this day of environmental education and awareness after seeing the oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara in 1969. Greenpeace was created in 1971 as an organization that believed that political advocacy and legislation were ineffective or inefficient solutions and supported non-violent action. 1980 saw the creation of Earth First!, a group with an ecocentric view of the world believing in the preservation of every living thing being put on the same plane as human survival.
In the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, several events illustrated the magnitude of environmental damage caused by humans. In 1954, the 23 man crew of the Japanese fishing vessel Lucky Dragon 5 was exposed to radioactive fallout from a hydrogen bomb test at Bikini Atoll. The publication of the book Silent Spring (1962) by Rachel Carson drew attention to the impact of chemicals on the natural environment. In 1967 the oil tanker Torrey Canyon ran aground off the coast of Cornwall, and in 1969 oil spilled from an offshore well in California's Santa Barbara Channel. In 1971, the conclusion of a law suit in Japan drew international attention to the effects of decades of mercury poisoning on the people of Minamata.
At the same time, emerging scientific research drew new attention to existing and hypothetical threats to the environment and humanity. Among them were Paul R. Ehrlich, whose book The Population Bomb (1968) revived concerns about the impact of exponential population growth. Biologist Barry Commoner generated a debate about growth, affluence and "flawed technology." Additionally, an association of scientists and political leaders known as the Club of Rome published their report The Limits to Growth in 1972, and drew attention to the growing pressure on natural resources from human activities.
Meanwhile, technological accomplishments such as nuclear proliferation and photos of the Earth from outer space provided both new insights and new reasons for concern over Earth's seemingly small and unique place in the universe.
In 1972, the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment was held in Stockholm, and for the first time united the representatives of multiple governments in discussion relating to the state of the global environment. This conference led directly to the creation of government environmental agencies and the UN Environment Program. The United States also passed new legislation such as the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act- the foundations for current environmental standards.
By the mid-1970s anti-nuclear activism had moved beyond local protests and politics to gain a wider appeal and influence. Although it lacked a single co-ordinating organization the anti-nuclear movement's efforts gained a great deal of attention. In the aftermath of the Three Mile Island accident in 1979, many mass demonstrations took place. The largest one was held in New York City in September 1979 and involved 200,000 people; speeches were given by Jane Fonda and Ralph Nader.
Since the 1970s, public awareness, environmental sciences, ecology, and technology have advanced to include modern focus points like ozone depletion, global climate change, acid rain, and the potentially harmful genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
- 1832- Hot Springs Reservation
- 1864- Yosemite Valley
- 1872- Yellowstone National Park
- 1892- Sierra Club
- 1916- National Park Service Organic Act
- 1916- National Audubon Society 
- 1961- World Wildlife Foundation 
- 1964- Land and Water Conservation Act
- 1964- National Wilderness Preservation System
- 1968- National Trails System Act
- 1968- National Wild and Scenic Rivers System/Wild and Scenic Rivers Act
- 1970- First Earth Day- April 22
- 1970- National Environmental Policy Act
- 1970- Clean Air Act
- 1970- Environmental Protection Agency 
- 1971- Greenpeace
- 1972- Clean Water Act
- 1973- Endangered Species Act
- 1980- Earth First!
- 1992- UN Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro 
After the International Environmental Conference in Stockholm in 1972 Latin American officials returned with a high hope of growth and protection of the fairly untouched natural resources. Governments spent millions of dollars, created departments, and pollution standards were created. But the outcomes have not been what officials had hoped. Activists are blaming it on growing urban populations and industrial growth. Many Latin American countries have had a large inflow of immigrants that are living in substandard housing. Enforcement of the pollution standards is lax and penalties are minimal; in Venezuela, the largest penalty for violating an environmental law is 50,000 bolivar fine (3,400$) and 3 days in jail. In the 1970s or 1980s many Latin American countries were transitioning from military dictatorships to democratic governments.
In 1992, Brazil came under scrutiny with the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro. Brazil has a history of little environmental awareness. It has the highest biodiversity in the world and also the highest amount of habitat destruction. One-third of the world’s forests lie in Brazil, and they have the largest river, the Amazon, and the largest rainforest, the Amazon Rainforest. The people have raised funds to create state parks and increase the consciousness of people who have destroyed forests and polluted waterways. They have several organizations that have fronted the environmental movement. The Blue Wave Foundation was created in 1989 and has partnered with advertising companies to promote national education campaigns to keep Brazil’s beaches clean. Funatura was created in 1986 and is a wildlife sanctuary program. Pro-Nature is a private environmental organization created in 1986.
The environmental movement is reaching the less developed world with different degrees of success. The Arab world, including the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa, and North Africa, has different adaptations of the environmental movement. Countries on the Gulf have high incomes and rely heavily on the large amount of energy resources in the area. Each country in the Arab world has varying combinations of low or high amounts of natural resources and low or high amounts of labor.
The League of Arab States has one specialized sub-committee, of 12 standing specialized subcommittee in the Foreign Affairs Ministerial Committees, which deals with Environmental Issues. Countries in the League of Arab States have demonstrated an interest in environmental issue, on paper, but some environmental activists have doubts about the level of commitment to environmental issues;; being a part of the world community may have obliged these countries to portray concern for the environment. Initial level of environmental awareness may be the creation of a ministry of the environment. The year of establishment of a ministry is also indicative of level of engagement. Saudi Arabia was the first to establish environmental law in 1992 followed by Egypt in 1994. Somalia is the only country without environmental law. In 2010 the Environmental Performance Index listed Algeria as the top Arab country at 42 of 163; Morocco was at 52 and Syria at 56. The Environmental Performance Index measures the ability of a country to actively manage and protect their environment and the health of their citizens. A weighted index is created by giving 50% weight for environmental health objective (health) and 50% for ecosystem vitality (ecosystem); values range from 0-100. No Arab countries were in the top quartile, and 7 countries were in the lowest quartile.
The first major environmental disasters began occurring in the 1950s and 1960s which sparked the breakthrough of the Environmental Movement in the 1970s. In 1952 the Great London Smog episode killed thousands of people and led the UK to create the first Clean Air Act in 1956. In 1957 the first major nuclear accident occurred in Windscale in northern England. The supertanker Torrey Canyon ran aground off the coast of Cornwall in 1967 causing the first major oil leak that killed marine life along the coast. In 1972, in Stockholm, the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment created the UN Environment Programme. The EU’s environmental policy was formally founded by a European Council declaration and the first five-year environment programme was adopted. The main idea of the declaration was that prevention is better than the cure and the polluter should pay. 1979 saw the partial meltdown of Three Mile Island in the USA.
In the 1980s the green parties that were created a decade before began to have some political success.. In 1986, there was a nuclear accident in Chernobyl, Ukraine. The end of the 1980s and start of the 1990s saw the fall of communism across central and Eastern Europe, the fall of the [Berlin Wall], and the Union of East and West Germany. In 1992 there was a UN summit held in Rio de Janeiro where Agenda 21 was adopted. The Kyoto Protocol was created in 1997 which set specific targets and deadlines to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. In the early 2000s activists believe that environmental policy concerns were overshadowed by energy security, globalism, and terrorism.
Korea & Taiwan
Korea and Taiwan experienced similar growth in industrialization from 1965-1990 with few environmental controls. Korea’s Han River and Nakdong River were so polluted by unchecked dumping of industrial waste that they were close to being classified as biologically deadly. Taiwan’s formula for balanced growth was to prevent industrial concentration and encourage manufacturers to set up in the countryside. This led to 20% of the farmland being polluted by industrial waste and 30% of the race grown on the island was contaminated with heavy metals. Both countries had spontaneous environmental movements drawing participants from different classes. Their demands were linked with issues of employment, occupational health, and agricultural crisis. They were also quite militant; the people learned that protesting can bring results. The polluting factories were forced to make immediate improvements of the conditions or pay compensation to victims. Some were even forced to shut down or move locations. The people were able to force the government to come out with new restrictive rules on toxics, industrial waste, and air pollution. All of these new regulations caused the migration of those polluting industries from Taiwan and Korea to China and other countries in Southeast Asia with more relaxed environmental laws.
In Southeast Asia, environmental movements existed, during the 1970s and '80s, before their period of rapid industrialization in the mid-eighties and mid-nineties. In the Philippines they were protesting against nuclear power. In Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines people were against hydroelectric dams. In Thailand and the Philippines the protesting was about deforestation and marine pollution. Himalaya Vahini is organizing mass campaign to save Himalayas at grass root level. Dams were a big issue in southeast Asia. Chico River Dam in the northern Philippines, and the Narmada Dam in India were the two that were most discussed. These dams were impacting the lives of small farmers and fisherfolk. The anti-dam movement was a way for the anti-dictator movement of the time to organize and reach new people. It also provided a way for anti-dictator movement to show the irresponsibility of the regimes. 
China’s environmental movement is characterized by spontaneous alliances that often only occur at the local level. The Chinese have realized the ability of riots and protests to have success and had led to an increase in disputes in China by 30% since 2005 to more than 50,000 events. Protests cover topics such as environmental issues, land-loss, income, and political issues. They have also grown in size from about 10 people or fewer in the mid-1990s to 52 people per incident in 2004. China has more relaxed environmental laws than other countries in Asia, so many polluting factories have relocated to China causing pollution in China. Water pollution, water scarcity, soil pollution, soil degradation, and desertification are issues currently in discussion in China. The groundwater table of the North China Plain is dropping by 1.5 m (5 ft) per year. This groundwater table occurs in the region of China that produces 40% of the country’s grain.
Environmental and public health have been struggles in India. The environmental movement in India began in 1980s. The biggest event that developed the movement was the Bhopal gas leakage on December 3, 1984. It released 40 tons of methyl isocynate, killing 3,000 people and ultimately caused 15,000-20,000 deaths. India has a national campaign against Coca Cola and [Pepsi Cola] plants due to their practices of drawing ground water and contaminating fields with sludge. The movement is characterized by local struggles against intensive aquaculture farms. The most influential part of the environmental movement in India is the anti-dam movement. Dam creation has been thought of as a way for India to catch up with the West by connecting to the [power grid] with giant dams, coal or oil-powered plants, or nuclear plants. Jhola Aandolan a mass movement is conducting as fighting against polythene carry bags uses and promoting cloth/jute/paper carry bags to protect environment & nature. Activists in the Indian environmental movement consider global warming, sea levels rising, and glaciers retreating decreasing the amount of water flowing into streams to be the biggest challenges for them to face in the early twenty first century.
Mithun Roy Chowdhury, The President of Save Nature & Wildlifw (SNW), Bangladesh, as an environmental activist insisted that the people of Bangladesh raise their voice against Tipaimukh Dam, being constructed by the Government of India. He said Tipaimukh Dam project will be another “death trap for Bangladesh like the Farakka Barrage” that would lead to an environmental disaster for 50 million people in the Meghna River basin. He said that, this project will start desertification in Bangladesh.
Scope of the movement
Environmental science is the study of the interactions among the physical, chemical and biological components of the environment.
- Ecology, or ecological science, is the scientific study of the distribution and abundance of living organisms and how these properties are affected by interactions between the organisms and their environment.
Primary focus points
The environmental movement is broad in scope and can include any topic related to the environment, conservation, and biology, as well as preservation of landscapes, flora, and fauna for a variety of purposes and uses. See List of environmental issues. When an act of violence is committed against someone or some institution in the name of environmental defense it is referred to as eco terrorism.
- The conservation movement seeks to protect natural areas for sustainable consumption, as well as traditional (hunting, fishing, trapping) and spiritual use.
- Environmental conservation is the process in which one is involved in conserving the natural aspects of the environment. Whether through reforestation, recycling, or pollution control, environmental conservation sustains the natural quality of life.
- Environmental health movement dates at least to Progressive Era, and focuses on urban standards like clean water, efficient sewage handling, and stable population growth. Environmental health could also deal with nutrition, preventive medicine, aging, and other concerns specific to human well-being. Environmental health is also seen as an indicator for the state of the environment, or an early warning system for what may happen to humans
- Environmental justice is a movement that began in the U.S. in the 1980s and seeks an end to environmental racism and prevent low-income and minority communities from an unbalanced exposure to highways, garbage dumps, and factories. The Environmental Justice movement seeks to link "social" and "ecological" environmental concerns, while at the same time preventing de facto racism, and classism. This makes it particularly adequate for the construction of labor-environmental alliances.
- Ecology movement could involve the Gaia Theory, as well as Value of Earth and other interactions between humans, science, and responsibility.
- Deep Ecology is an ideological spinoff of the ecology movement that views the diversity and integrity of the planetary ecosystem, in and for itself, as its primary value.
- Bright green environmentalism is a currently popular sub-movement, which emphasizes the idea that through technology, good design and more thoughtful use of energy and resources, people can live responsible, sustainable lives while enjoying prosperity.
- The anti-nuclear movement opposes the use of various nuclear technologies. The initial anti-nuclear objective was nuclear disarmament and later the focus began to shift to other issues, mainly opposition to the use of nuclear power. There have been many large anti-nuclear demonstrations and protests. Major anti-nuclear groups include Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, and the Nuclear Information and Resource Service.
Environmental law and theory
Many environmental lawsuits question the legal rights of property owners, and whether the general public has a right to intervene with detrimental practices occurring on someone else's land. Environmental law organizations exist all across the world, such as the Environmental Law and Policy Center in the midwestern United States.
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.
Christopher D. Stone's 1972 essay, "Should trees have standing?" addressed the question of whether natural objects themselves should have legal rights. In the essay, Stone suggests that his argument is valid because many current rightsholders (women, children) were once seen as objects.
Numerous criticisms and ethical ambiguities have led to growing concerns about technology, including the use of potentially harmful pesticides, water additives like fluoride, and the extremely dangerous ethanol-processing plants.
NIMBY syndrome refers to public outcry caused by knee-jerk reaction to an unwillingness to be exposed to even necessary developments. Some serious biologists and ecologists created the scientific ecology movement which would not confuse empirical data with visions of a desirable future world.
Today, the sciences of ecology and environmental science, rather than any aesthetic goals, provide the basis of unity to most serious environmentalists.[opinion] As more information is gathered in scientific fields, more scientific issues like biodiversity, as opposed to mere aesthetics, are a concern.[to whom?] Conservation biology is a rapidly developing field. Environmentalism now has proponents in business: new ventures such as those to reuse and recycle consumer electronics and other technical equipment are gaining popularity. Computer liquidators are just one example.
In recent years, the environmental movement has increasingly focused on global warming as a top issue. As concerns about climate change moved more into the mainstream, from the connections drawn between global warming and Hurricane Katrina to Al Gore's film An Inconvenient Truth, many environmental groups refocused their efforts. In the United States, 2007 witnessed the largest grassroots environmental demonstration in years, Step It Up 2007, with rallies in over 1,400 communities and all 50 states for real global warming solutions.
Many religious organizations and individual churches now have programs and activities dedicated to environmental issues. The religious movement is often supported by interpretation of scriptures. Most major religious groups are represented including Jewish, Islamic, Anglican, Orthodox, Evangelical, Christian and Catholic.
Radical environmentalism emerged out of an ecocentrism-based frustration with the co-option of mainstream environmentalism. The radical environmental movement aspires to what scholar Christopher Manes calls "a new kind of environmental activism: iconoclastic, uncompromising, discontented with traditional conservation policy, at time illegal ..." Radical environmentalism presupposes a need to reconsider Western ideas of religion and philosophy (including capitalism, patriarchy and globalization) sometimes through "resacralising" and reconnecting with nature. Greenpeace represents an organisation with a radical approach, but has contributed in serious ways towards understanding of critical issues, and has a science-oriented core with radicalism as a means to mediaexposure. Groups like Earth First! take a much more radical posture.
Conservative critics of the movement characterize it as radical and misguided. Especially critics of the Endangered Species Act, which has come under scrutiny lately, and the Clean Air Act, which they said conflict with private property rights, corporate profits and the nation’s overall economic growth. Critics also challenge scientific evidence like ozone depletion and global warming. They argue that the Environmental Movement has diverted attention from more pressing issues. A study reported in The Guardian concluded that "people who believe they have the greenest lifestyles can be seen as some of the main culprits behind global warming." The researchers found that individuals who were more environmentally conscious were more likely to take long-distance overseas flights, and that the resulting carbon emissions outweighed the savings from green lifestyles at home.
- Bright green environmentalism
- Chemical Leasing
- Carbon Neutrality
- Conservation movement
- Earth Science
- Ecological economics
- Ecological modernization
- Environmental philosophy
- Environmental organizations
- Environmental science
- Environmental skepticism
- Free-market environmentalism
- Green anarchism
- Green movement
- Green seniors
- Green syndicalism
- Holistic management
- Natural environment
- Political ecology
- Positive environmentalism
- Radical environmentalism
- Sustainability and systemic change resistance
- Timeline of environmental events
- Chapman, Roger (2010). Culture wars: an encyclopedia of issues, viewpoints, and voices. M.E. Sharpe, Inc. p. 162. ISBN 0-7656-1761-7.
- Theodore Roosevelt, Address to the Deep Waterway Convention. Memphis, TN, October 4, 1907
- Griswold, Eliza (21 September 2012). "How 'Silent Spring' Ignited the Environmental Movement". New York Times. Retrieved 22 February 2013.
- Most of the information in this section comes from John McCormick, The Global Environmental Movement, London: John Wiley, 1995.
- Walker, J. Samuel (2004). Three Mile Island: A Nuclear Crisis in Historical Perspective (Berkeley: University of California Press), pp. 10-11.
- Interest Group Politics In America p. 149.
- Social Protest and Policy Change p. 45.
- Herman, Robin (September 24, 1979). "Nearly 200,000 Rally to Protest Nuclear Energy". New York Times. p. B1.
- Elkington, John (2007). Environmental Movement: The A to Z of Corporate Social Responsibility. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
- Figdor, Carrie (24 July 1988). "Latin America's Environmental Movement Seen as Well-Meaning but Inadequate". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 20 February 2013.
- Brooke, Elizabeth Heilman (2 June 1992). "As Forests Fall, Environmental Movement Rises in Brazil". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 February 2013.
- Djoundourian, Salpie (2011-08-01). "Environmental movement in the Arab world". Environment, Development and Sustainability 13 (4): 743–758. doi:10.1007/s10668-011-9287-7.
- "Celebrating Europe and its environment". European Environment Agency. Retrieved 21 February 2013.
- Bello, Walden. "The Environmental Movement in the Global South". Transnational Institute. Environmental Justice. Retrieved 15 February 2013.
- "Protest against the Tipaimukh Dam by Save Nature & Wildlife (SNW), Bangladesh.". www.newstoday.com.bd.
- "Protes against Tipai Dam". http://newagebd.com/newspaper1/metro/46879.html.
- "Protest against Tipaimukh dam". http://www.thefinancialexpress-bd.com/more.php?news_id=93865&date=2012-01-14#.TxCr7b1D420.facebook.
- "Protest tipai Dam". http://www.kalerkantho.com/?view=details&archiev=yes&arch_date=14-01-2012&type=gold&data=Food&pub_no=761&cat_id=1&menu_id=43&news_type_id=1&index=41.
- Jakopovich, Dan (1970-01-01). "Uniting to Win: Labor-Environmental Alliances". Informaworld.com. Retrieved 2012-06-19.
- List of (incomplete) religious environmental organizations.[dead link]
- Biblical references related to environmentalism[dead link]
- Manes, Christopher, 1990. Green Rage: Radical Environmentalism and the Unmaking of Civilization, Boston: Little, Brown and Co.
- A Brief Description of Radical Environmentalism, Jeff Luers, 4 Struggle Magazine, 26th September 2005.
- David Adam, "Green idealists fail to make grade, says study," The Guardian, 2008-09-24
- Guha, Ramachandra. 1999. Environmentalism: A Global History, London, Longman.
- Hawken, Paul. 2007. Blessed Unrest, Penguin.
- Kamieniecki, Sheldon, ed. 1993. Environmental Politics in the International Arena: Movements, Parties, Organizations, and Policy, Albany: State University of New York Press, ISBN 0-7914-1664-X
- McCormick, John. 1995. The Global Environmental Movement, London: John Wiley.
- Shabecoff, Philip. 2003. A Fierce Green Fire: The American Environmental Movement, Island Press; Revised Edition, ISBN 1-55963-437-5
- de Steiguer, J.E. 2006. The Origins of Modern Environmental Thought. The University of Arizona Press. Tucson.
- Wapner, Paul. 1996. Environmental Activism and World Civil Politics, Albany: State University of New York, ISBN 0-7914-2790-0