In the late 1960s to 1970s, Americans realized that industry was doing serious damage
to air, water, and the earth itself, the most essential natural resources. The whole
awareness of the damage being done to the environment stemmed out from the energy crisis
of the 1970s.
The energy crisis was a 'slap-in-the-face' for America. They needed to realize the harm
that was being done to the natural resources and their decreasing availability as a
result. With the decreasing availability and increasing prices of oil, new energy sources
had to be discovered. Although scientists found nuclear power to be a clean, cheap, and
unlimited source of power at first, the environmentalists fought to minimize its usage for
fear of nuclear meltdowns, which could spread nuclear waste. Alternative energy sources
were possible, and what appeared to be the most effective were tidal energy and solar
energy. These environmentally safe methods of harnessing energy were just what the
environmentalists had aimed for, and a new movement had been started - environmentalism.
If you read this circle it. The environmentalists also tried to advocate the conservation
of energy, so that the cleaner but less effective ways could be manipulated to produce
Despite many efforts to keep the environment clean, some 200 million tons of pollutants
were filling the air each year, and clean air in many cities had been replaced by smog.
The earth, air, and water were deteriorating as construction of highways, malls, and
housing developments caused the destruction of fertile, irreplaceable farmland. Disposal
of wastes was another dilemma to be dealt with. Burning could release poisonous gases into
the air, and burial could cause harmful decay.
By the mid-1960s, people began to really realize the need to conserve the nation's
resources. Much credit for arousing public concern belonged to Rachel Carson for her book
Silent Spring. This book warned of the central problem of our age being the contamination
of man's environment. During the next few years, growing numbers of ecologists,
biologists, and other scientists showed their concern about the reckless abuse of the
In 1970, Congress created the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which helped set
laws regulating use of pesticides, insecticides, and other potentially dangerous sprays.
They protected endangered wildlife, and ordered that car manufacturers had to provide
pollution control devices on exhausts of their vehicles. New waste disposal and sewage
treatment plants were being built to prevent further pollution of the land and water and
to clean up the rivers and lakes. Government also regulated unsightly junkyards and dumps
to restore the natural beauty of the countryside. Federal government set aside more areas
as national parks, not to be tampered with, and considerable progress had been made in the
management and conservation of America's forests, soil, and water.
However, many people felt that it was not necessary for the government to take all this
action. President Reagan gave in and allowed the search for minerals on federal lands and
oil exploration off the coast of California, which some felt was very risky, because of
the chance of an oil spill, which would devastate all ocean life in the area.
Environmental decisions were important in the sixties era, as many other nations
followed them with concern. With the world's population increasing so rapidly, the earth's
natural resources will be heavily taxed, and many people, the environmentalists, believed
that resource conservation was extremely important in maintaining the living conditions of
the world population.