04 February 2014

The Greening of America

A few months back, I began a series of blog entries regarding global warming and associated myths. Titled "Is God Green," the series was truncated by a number of factors, including my recent illnesses. Now it's time to start back in on this important subject.

As I type these words, the temperature outside has warmed up to 30 degrees fahrenheit. This "warming trend" is only expected to last one day, then it's back to single digits. The relationship between the Global Warming alarmists and the environmentalist movement is well-documented. In this installment I'd like to give some attention to historical examples of environmentalism, primarily in the American experience.

While I’m sure that there have always been those who were interested in cleaning the cave or saving some aspect of life that seemed to be going extinct, we should probably date what we would call Modern Environmentalism from the industrial revolution. New levels of pollution and disease caused by manufacturing and living in close quarters sparked protests and attempts to mitigate the ill effects.

In the US, the philosophical foundations for environmentalism were established by such men as Thomas Jefferson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Theodore Roosevelt and Gifford Pinchot.   

Organized environmentalism began with the conservation movement in the late 19th century.  State and national parks and forests, wildlife refuges, and national monuments were created to preserve natural treasures. Early American conservationists included President Roosevelt, Pinchot, and John Muir, the founder of the Sierra Club. Several other groups, such as the Audubon Society were created early in the 20th century.  With WWII behind us, and many folks beginning to feel the freedom of the post-war world, activism began to become commonplace with some projects such as dams, being halted due to the outcry. Environmentalists do not like dams.

In the 1950s and 1960s, the public was becoming aware that conservation of wilderness and wildlife was but one aspect of protecting an endangered environment. 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 and gave rise to what became known as the "new environmentalism." Public support for these issues culminated in the Earth Day demonstrations of 1970.

The new movement had a broader goal—to preserve life on the planet. The more radical groups believe that continued industrial development is incompatible with environmentalism. Other groups, notably Greenpeace
 , which advocated direct action to preserve endangered species, often clashed violently with opponents. Less militant organizations called for sustainable development and the need to balance environmentalism with economic development. 

Environmentalists like to call upon scientists – and pseudo (non-)scientists (think Al Gore and Michael Moore) to provide a foundation for their claims.  
Since the late 1960's and early 1970's, environmentalist scientists have been predicting various ecological doomsdays. Very few, if any, of these disasters have befallen mankind. In another blog entry we will take a look at some of the hot-button issues.

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