Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Earth Day and the Environmental Movement

"Earth image and star field background" by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

In 1962, Rachel Carson published her landmark book, Silent Spring, which sparked an awareness of pesticide use on human health. Along with the publication of Silent Spring, the emerging environmental movement in the U.S. was fueled by environmental decay, catastrophes, and mismanagement of natural resources. Environmental events of particular note during the late 1960s included the Santa Barbara oil spill,  the proposed Trans-Alaska Pipeline System, the FDA seizure of DDT laden coho salmon caught in Lake Michigan, ecosystem damage in the Great Lakes due to pollutants, and fire on the oil-slicked Cuyahoga River in Cleveland (Scheffer, 1991). The civil rights, anti-war, and women's-rights movements also contributed to the nationwide call for action and change.

In 1970, U. S. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin announced a national teach-in to take place on April 22nd. 20 million people participated across the country in protests and educational events that brought environmental devastation to the forefront of public attention. Following this first Earth Day came the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as well as the Endangered SpeciesClean Air, and Clean Water Acts, and the ban on agricultural use of DDT.

Earth Day is a time to revisit, reflect, and act, on current environmental issues that endanger our health, public lands, and future as a species. So some of us may want to turn our attention to  the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, or the places in the Pacific Ocean which collect microplastics, fishing nets and other debris from North America and Asia. Marine life, including turtles, fish, and birds, are at risk due to ingestion of, or entanglement with, plastics

In addition, although the hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking" boom, comes with some economic benefits, fracking wastewater continues to pollute ground water, including California aquifers with the carcinogen benzene. Listen to University of Redlands' Dr. Timothy Krantz explain benzene and its effects on public health. 

On top of the state wide drought, bottled water companies like Nestle, continue to bottle and sell water from springs and aquifers. Nestle has been operating in the San Bernardino National Forest on a permit that expired in 1988. Read more about this local issue in The Desert Sun article, "Bottling water without scrutiny."

Armacost Library provides many resources to brush up on the history of the environmental movement and beyond.

Further Reading
Desert solitaire: A season in the wilderness / by Edward Abbey

Silent spring / by Rachel Carson 

An inconvenient truth: The planetary emergency of global warming and what we can do about it / Al Gore.

Field notes from a catastrophe: Man, nature, and climate change / Elizabeth Kolbert.

The end of nature / Bill McKibben.

Environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing / Frank R. Spellman.

History of Earth Day and the U.S. environmental movement
The Man from Clear Lake: Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson / Bill Christofferson.

Forcing the spring: The transformation of the American environmental movement / Robert Gottlieb.

First along the river: A brief history of the U.S. environmental movement / Benjamin Kline.

The shaping of environmentalism in America / Victor B. Scheffer.

Crude / a Red Envelope Entertainment presentation of an Entendre Films production 

The 11th hour / produced by Leonardo DiCaprio

Gasland / a film by Josh Fox

The monkey wrench gang
/ Edward Abbey.

A friend of the earth / T. C. Boyle.

Stand on Zanzibar / John Brunner.

Ecotopia: The notebooks and reports of William Weston
/ Ernest Callenbach.

The Lorax / by Dr. Seuss.

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