An environment is the natural world which surrounds the earth and makes a particular geographical area in which human beings, animals, plants and other living and non-living things exist.
Essay on Environment
A clean environment is very necessary to live a peaceful and healthy life. But our environment is getting dirty day by day because of some negligence of human beings. It is an issue which everyone must know about especially our kids. Use following Environment Essay for your kids and children to help them in completing their school project or essay writing competition. Following Essay on Environment are written using very simple word and easy to understand English Language so that your children can easy understand it.
Environment Essay 1 (100 words)
An environment is the natural surroundings which help life to grow, nourish and destroy on this planet called earth. Natural environment plays a great role in the existence of life on earth and it helps human beings, animals and other living things to grow and develop naturally. But due to some bad and selfish activities of the human beings, our environment is getting affected. It is the most important topic that everyone must know how to protect our environment to keep it safe forever as well as ensure the nature’s balance on this planet to continue the existence of life.
Environment Essay 2 (150 words)
As we all are well familiar with the environment, it is everything which surrounds us naturally and affects our daily lives on the earth. Everything comes under an environment, the air which we breathe every moment, the water which we use for our daily routine, plants, animals and other living things, etc around us. An environment is called healthy environment when natural cycle goes side by side without any disturbance. Any type of disturbance in the nature’s balance affects the environment totally which ruins the human lives.
Now, in the era of advance living standard of the human being, our environment is getting affected to a great extent by the means of air pollution, noise pollution, deforestation, water pollution, soil pollution, acid rain and other dangerous disasters created by the human beings through technological advancement. We all must take an oath together to protect our natural environment to keep it safe as usual forever.
Environment Essay 3 (200 words)
Environment means all the natural surroundings such as land, air, water, plants, animals, solid material, wastes, sunlight, forests and other things. Healthy environment maintains the nature’s balance as well as helps in growing, nourishing and developing all the living things on the earth. However, now a day, some manmade technological advancement spoiling the environment in many ways which ultimately disturbs the balance or equilibrium of nature. We are keeping our lives in danger as well as existence of life in future on this planet.
If we do anything in wrong way out of the discipline of nature, it disturbs the whole environment means atmosphere, hydrosphere and lithosphere. Besides natural environment, a man made environment is also exists which deals with the technology, work environment, aesthetics, transportation, housing, utilities, urbanization, etc. Man made environment affects the natural environment to a great extent which we all must be together to save it.
The components of the natural environment are used as a resource however it is also exploited by the human being in order to fulfill some basic physical needs and purpose of life. We should not challenge our natural resources and stop putting so much pollution or waste to the environment. We should value our natural resources and use them by staying under the natural discipline.
Environment Essay 4 (250 words)
An environment includes all the natural resources which surround us to help in number of ways. It provides us better medium to grow and develop. It gives us all things which we need to live our life on this planet. However, our environment also need some help from all of us to get maintained as usual, to nourish our lives forever and to never ruin our lives. The elements of our environment are declining day by day because of the man made technological disaster.
We need to maintain the originality of our environment to continue the life on the earth, the only place where life is possible till now in the whole universe. World Environment Day is a campaign being celebrated for years every year on 5th of June in order to spread the public awareness all over the world towards the environment safety and cleanliness. We must participate in the campaign celebration to know the theme of celebration, to know ways of saving our environment and to get aware about all the bad habits which declining the environment day by day.
We can save our environment in very easy manner with the little step taken by every person on the earth. We should reduce the amount of waste, throwing wastes properly to its place only, stop using poly bags, reuse some old things in new ways, repair and use broken things instead of throwing it away, see how much it would take to repair them, use rechargeable batteries or renewable alkaline batteries, make use of fluorescent light, rain water conservation, reduce water wastage, energy conservation, minimum use of electricity, etc.
Environment Essay 5 (300 words)
An environment is gifted by the nature to nourish the life on the earth. Everything which we use to continue our lives comes under the environment such as water, air, sunlight, land, plants, animals, forests and other natural things. Our environment plays a very significant role in making possible the existence of healthy life on the earth. However, our environment is getting worse day by day because of the manmade technological advancement in the modern era. Thus, environmental pollution has become the biggest problem we are facing today.
Environmental pollution is affecting our daily lives negatively in various aspects of life such as socially, physically, economically, emotionally and intellectually. Contamination of the environment brings lots of diseases which human being may suffer whole life. It is not a problem of community or city, it is a worldwide problem which cannot be solved by the effort of one. If it is not addressed properly, it may end the existence of life a day. Each and every common citizen should involve in the environmental safety programme launched by the government.
We should correct our mistakes and selfishness towards our environment to make healthy and safe from the pollution. It is hard to believe but true that only a little positive movements by everyone may bring a huge change in the declining environment. Air and water pollution is leading our health on danger by causing various diseases and disorders. Nothing can be said healthy now a day, as what we eat is already affected by the bad effects of artificial fertilizers which reduces and weakens our body immunity to fight disease causing microorganisms. That’s why, anyone of us can be diseased anytime even after being healthy and happy.
So, it is a major worldwide issue which should be solved by the continuous efforts of everyone. We should participate in the World Environment Day campaign to actively participate in the environment safety event.
Environment Essay 6 (400 words)
All the natural things which makes life possible on the earth includes under an environment like water, air, sunlight, land, fire, forests, animals, plants, etc. It is considered that earth is the only planet in the universe having required environment for the life existence. Without environment we cannot guess life here so we should keep our environment safe and clean to ensure the life possibility in future. It is the responsibility of each and every individual living on the earth worldwide. Everyone should come forth and join the campaign for environment safety.
There are various cycles which happen regularly between environment and living things to maintain the nature’s balance. However, by any means if such cycles gets disturbed, nature’s balance also gets disturbed which ultimately affects the human lives. Our environment helps us and other forms of existence to grow, develop and flourish on the earth for thousands of years. As human beings are considered as the most intelligent creature made by the nature on the earth, they have lots of eagerness to know things in the universe which lead them towards the technological advancement.
Such technological advancement in everyone’s life put the life possibilities on the earth in danger day by day as our environment is destroying gradually. It seems that one day it becomes so harmful for life as the natural air, soil and water are getting polluted. Even it has started showing its bad effects on the health of human being, animal, plants and other living things. Artificially prepared fertilizers by using harmful chemicals are spoiling the soil which indirectly getting collected into our body through the food we eat daily. Harmful smokes created from the industrial companies on daily basis are polluting the natural air which affects our health to a great extent as we breathe it every moment.
In such busy, crowded and advanced life we must take care of such types of small bad habits on daily basis. It is true that only a small effort by the end of everyone can bring a major positive change towards our declining environment. We should not use the natural resources in wrong ways for just our selfishness and fulfil our destructive wishes. We should grow and develop science and technologies for the betterment of our lives but always be sure that it would not ruin our environment in future in anyways. We should be sure that new technologies would never disturb the ecological balance.
All the environment essay given above are written by the professional content writer under various words limit to help students. All the essay on environment are written very simply so that students of classes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, etc can easily learn and successfully use in exam or essay writing competition. We have provided environment essays under the category of environmental issues. You can get essay on other environmental issues under same category such as:
Speech on Environment
Slogans on Environment
World Environment Day
Essay on Pollution
Global Warming Essay
Essay on Swachh Bharat Abhiyan
Save Trees Essay
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.
Scope of the movement
- The early Conservation movement, which began in the late 19th century, included fisheries and wildlife management, water, soil conservation and sustainable forestry. Today it includes sustainable yield of natural resources, preservation of wilderness areas and biodiversity.
- The modern Environmental movement, which began in the 1960s with concern about air and water pollution, became broader in scope to including all landscapes and human activities. See List of environmental issues.
- Environmental health movement dating at least to Progressive Era (1890s - 1920s) urban reforms including clean water supply, more efficient removal of raw sewage and reduction in crowded and unsanitary living conditions. Today Environmental health is more related to nutrition, preventive medicine, aging well and other concerns specific to the human body's well-being.
- Sustainability movement which started in the 1980s focused on Gaia theory, value of Earth and other interrelations between human sciences and human responsibilities. Its spinoff Deep Ecology was more spiritual but often claimed to be science.
- Environmental justice is a movement that began in the U.S. in the 1980s and seeks an end to environmental racism. Often, low-income and minority communities are located close to highways, garbage dumps, and factories, where they are exposed to greater pollution and environmental health risk than the rest of the population. The Environmental Justice movement seeks to link "social" and "ecological" environmental concerns, while at the same time keeping environmentalists conscious of the dynamics in their own movement, i.e. racism, sexism, homophobia, classicism, and other malaises of dominant culture.
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.
Early European settlers 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"
Beginning of the modern movement
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.
Unlike the Progressive Era's conservation movement (1890s - 1920s), which was largely elitist consisting of largely of wealthy, politically powerful men, the modern environmental movement was a social movement with more popular support. The environmental movement borrowed tactics from both the successful civil rights movement and the protests against the Vietnam war.
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 ecologistAldo 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.
Main article: Anti-nuclear movement in the United States
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 wararms 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.
Federal legislation in the 1970s
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)
Renewed focus on local action
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.
Role of science
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.
Main article: DDT
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.
See also: Environmental justice § Initial barriers to minority participation
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."
Debates within the movement
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.
Environmentalism and politics
Environmentalists became much more influential in American politics after the creation or strengthening of numerous U.S. environmental laws, including the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act and the formation of the US Environmental Protection Agency, or 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.
Those who take issue with new untested technologies are more precisely known, especially in Europe, as political ecologists. They usually seek, in contrast, to preserve the integrity of existing ecologies and ecoregions, and in general are more pessimistic about human "management".
Main article: Radical environmentalism
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.
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