Earliest Accounts of Environmental Concerns • Air and water pollution was not a much of a concern, though places like the Roman Empire were known to have sewage in the streets. • The cutting of timber for building was an early concern in places such as Babylon, Greece, Italy, & Phoenicia. • Soil conservation was practiced by civilizations in China, India, and Peru.
Earliest Accounts of Environmental Concerns continued • As countries became more developed, sanitation became a problem. The best example is Europe during the Middle Ages and the outbreak of the Bubonic Plague. • Forests were also disappearing more and more as the need for timber increased.
1700’s Ben Franklin began noting water pollution issues and pushed for a solution. A correlation between population and resources was made and brought to light that as one increases, the other decreases. The use of more coal led to more air pollution.
1800’s – 1900’s The impact of water born diseases became a big concern as well as working conditions in factories and industry. A push was also made to start preserving wilderness areas. Teddy Roosevelt & Gifford Pinchot suggested forests be used wisely. The Sierra Club formed during this time.
Sierra Club • To explore, enjoy, and protect the wild places of the earth; To practice and promote the responsible use of the earth's ecosystems and resources; To educate and enlist humanity to protect and restore the quality of the natural and human environment; and to use all lawful means to carry out these objectives.
1900’s Impacts of the burning of chemicals and processing of synthetic materials is publicized. Air pollution is seen as a problem. In 1957, increased levels of CO2 was documented and was a concern.
1960’s &1970’s • The harmful effects of leaded gasoline is presented before Congress. • Silent Spring -1966-book by Rachel Carson-stated that uncontrolled pesticide use (DDT) led to the deaths of animals and especially birds, but also humans. Its title was meant to evoke a spring season in which no bird songs could be heard, because they had all died from pesticides. • Cuyahoga River -1969-oil & chemicals burn in Ohio, sparking a big environmental movement.
1970’s-1980’s EPA is established and major environmental laws are passed such as the Clean Air Act & Clean Water Act. Catalytic converters are put on cars. The effects of toxic dumps comes to light after the Love Canal incident. (1978) Nuclear power is questioned after a minor accident at Three Mile Island. (1979) First major energy crisis over supply of oil. (1973)
Love Canal Incident • Love Canal is a neighborhood in New York which became the subject of national and international attention and controversy following the discovery of 21,000 tons of toxic waste buried beneath the neighborhood.
Three Mile Island Incident • Three Mile Island is an island in the Susquehanna River near Harrisburg Pennsylvania. • The Three Mile Island accident of 1979 was the most significant accident in the history of the American commercial nuclear power generating industry. It resulted in the release of a significant amount of radioactivity, an estimated 43,000 curies of radioactive krypton
1980’s – 1990’s 1980’s Major Disasters: • Chernobyl • Exxon Valdez- Largest oil spill to date. Happened in the Prince William Sound in the Gulf of Alaska • Bhopal poisoning - 27 tons of lethal gases leaked from Union Carbide Corporation's pesticide factory in Bhopal, India. It was the worst chemical disaster in history. Ozone depletion taken seriously in 1987. Global Climate change becomes more of a concern.
Chernobyl • ChernobylWASa city in northern Ukraine • The Chernobyl disaster was a nuclear reactor accident in the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. It was the worst nuclear power plant accident in history resulting in a severe release of radioactivity into the environment following a massive power excursion which destroyed the reactor. • Two people died in the initial steam explosion, but most deaths from the accident were attributed to fallout
1990’s to Present • Debates continue in our government and around the world about environmental issues. • United Nations begins addressing global climate change and suggests solutions, but many countries do not want to comply. • Clinton sets aside 58 million acres of forest & wilderness to be protected or managed. • Support grows for alternative energy sources such as wind energy. • In 1997 the Kyoto Protocol was drafted. • An agreement made under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Countries that ratify this protocol commit to reducing their emissions of carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gasses, or engaging in emissions trading if they maintain or increase emissions of these green house gases.
The Protocol aims to cut global emissions by 5% of 1990 levels by 2012.For most countries, this corresponds to 15% lower emissions.
Development of Alternative Energy Deemed more important due to rise of fossil fuel costs. Automotive companies spending more money to develop gas saving cars. More efforts being made to develop solar, wind, biofuel, and hydrogen fuels. Wind power is the fastest growing energy source.