Environmentalism In the Sixties
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year, and clean air in many cities had been replaced by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 environment.
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.