It has been suggested that this article be merged with Environmental movement. (Discuss) Proposed since October 2022.
Environmentalism or environmental rights is a broad
Environmentalism advocates the preservation, restoration and improvement of the natural environment and critical earth system elements or processes such as the climate, and may be referred to as a movement to control pollution or protect plant and animal diversity. For this reason, concepts such as a land ethic, environmental ethics, biodiversity, ecology, and the biophilia hypothesis figure predominantly.
At its crux, environmentalism is an attempt to balance relations between humans and the various natural systems on which they depend in such a way that all the components are accorded a proper degree of sustainability. The exact measures and outcomes of this balance is controversial and there are many different ways for environmental concerns to be expressed in practice. Environmentalism and environmental concerns are often represented by the colour green, but this association has been appropriated by the marketing industries for the tactic known as greenwashing.
Environmentalism is opposed by anti-environmentalism, which says that the Earth is less fragile than some environmentalists maintain, and portrays environmentalism as overreacting to the human contribution to climate change or opposing human advancement.
Environmentalism denotes a social movement that seeks to influence the political process by lobbying, activism, and education in order to protect natural resources and ecosystems.
In various ways (for example, grassroots activism and protests), environmentalists and
In general terms, environmentalists advocate the sustainable management of resources, and the protection (and restoration, when necessary) of the natural environment through changes in public policy and individual behaviour. In its recognition of humanity as a participant in ecosystems, the movement is centered around ecology, health, and human rights.
A concern for environmental protection has recurred in diverse forms, in different parts of the world, throughout history. The earliest ideas of environmental protectionism can be found in Jainism, a religion from ancient India revived by Mahavira in the 6th century BC. Jainism offers a view that is in many ways compatible with core values associated with environmental activism, such as the protection of life by nonviolence, which could form a strong ecological ethos for global protection of the environment. Mahavira's teachings on the symbiosis between all living beings—as well as the five elements of earth, water, air, fire, and space—are core to environmental thought today.
In the Middle East, the
In Europe, King Edward I of England banned the burning and sale of "sea-coal" in 1272 by proclamation in London, after its smoke had become a prevalent annoyance throughout the city. This fuel, common in London due to the local scarcity of wood, was given this early name because it could be found washed up on some shores, from where it was carted away on a wheelbarrow.
Early environmental legislation
At the advent of steam and electricity the muse of history holds her nose and shuts her eyes (H. G. Wells 1918).
The origins of the environmental movement lay in the response to increasing levels of
In industrial cities, local experts and reformers, especially after 1890, took the lead in identifying environmental degradation and pollution, and initiating grass-roots movements to demand and achieve reforms. Typically the highest priority went to water and air pollution. The Coal Smoke Abatement Society was formed in 1898 making it one of the oldest environmental NGOs. It was founded by artist Sir William Blake Richmond, frustrated with the pall cast by coal smoke. Although there were earlier pieces of legislation, the Public Health Act 1875 required all furnaces and fireplaces to consume their own smoke. It also provided for sanctions against factories that emitted large amounts of black smoke. This law's provisions were extended in 1926 with the Smoke Abatement Act to include other emissions, such as soot, ash, and gritty particles, and to empower local authorities to impose their own regulations.
During the Spanish Revolution, anarchist-controlled territories undertook several environmental reforms, which were possibly the largest in the world at the time. Daniel Guerin notes that anarchist territories would diversify crops, extend irrigation, initiate reforestation, start tree nurseries and help to establish naturist communities. Once there was a link discovered between air pollution and tuberculosis, the CNT shut down several metal factories.
It was only under the impetus of the
The late 19th century also saw the passage of the first wildlife conservation laws. The zoologist Alfred Newton published a series of investigations into the Desirability of establishing a 'Close-time' for the preservation of indigenous animals between 1872 and 1903. His advocacy for legislation to protect animals from hunting during the mating season led to the formation of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and influenced the passage of the Sea Birds Preservation Act in 1869 as the first nature protection law in the world.
First environmental movements
Early interest in the environment was a feature of the
Systematic efforts on behalf of the environment only began in the late 19th century; it grew out of the amenity movement in Britain in the 1870s, which was a reaction to
In 1893 Hill, Hunter and Rawnsley agreed to set up a national body to coordinate environmental conservation efforts across the country; the "National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty" was formally inaugurated in 1894. The organisation obtained secure footing through the 1907 National Trust Bill, which gave the trust the status of a statutory corporation. and the bill was passed in August 1907.
An early "Back-to-Nature" movement, which anticipated the romantic ideal of modern environmentalism, was advocated by intellectuals such as John Ruskin, William Morris, George Bernard Shaw and Edward Carpenter, who were all against consumerism, pollution and other activities that were harmful to the natural world. The movement was a reaction to the urban conditions of the industrial towns, where sanitation was awful, pollution levels intolerable and housing terribly cramped. Idealists championed the rural life as a mythical utopia and advocated a return to it. John Ruskin argued that people should return to a "small piece of English ground, beautiful, peaceful, and fruitful. We will have no steam engines upon it ... we will have plenty of flowers and vegetables ... we will have some music and poetry; the children will learn to dance to it and sing it."
Practical ventures in the establishment of small cooperative farms were even attempted and old rural traditions, without the "taint of manufacture or the canker of artificiality", were enthusiastically revived, including the Morris dance and the maypole.
These ideas also inspired various environmental groups in the UK, such as the
The movement in the United States began in the late 19th century, out of concerns for protecting the natural resources of the West, with individuals such as John Muir and Henry David Thoreau making key philosophical contributions. Thoreau was interested in peoples' relationship with nature and studied this by living close to nature in a simple life. He published his experiences in the book Walden, which argues that people should become intimately close with nature. Muir came to believe in nature's inherent right, especially after spending time hiking in Yosemite Valley and studying both the ecology and geology. He successfully lobbied congress to form Yosemite National Park and went on to set up the Sierra Club in 1892. The conservationist principles as well as the belief in an inherent right of nature were to become the bedrock of modern environmentalism.
In the 20th century, environmental ideas continued to grow in popularity and recognition. Efforts were starting to be made to save some wildlife, particularly the American bison. The death of the last passenger pigeon as well as the endangerment of the American bison helped to focus the minds of conservationists and to popularise their concerns. In 1916, the National Park Service was founded by US President Woodrow Wilson.
The Forestry Commission was set up in 1919 in Britain to increase the amount of woodland in Britain by buying land for afforestation and reforestation. The commission was also tasked with promoting forestry and the production of timber for trade. During the 1920s the Commission focused on acquiring land to begin planting out new forests; much of the land was previously used for agricultural purposes. By 1939 the Forestry Commission was the largest landowner in Britain.
During the 1930s the Nazis had elements that were supportive of animal rights, zoos and wildlife,
In 1949, A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold was published. It explained Leopold's belief that humankind should have moral respect for the environment and that it is unethical to harm it. The book is sometimes called the most influential book on conservation.
Throughout the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and beyond, photography was used to enhance public awareness of the need for protecting land and recruiting members to environmental organisations. David Brower, Ansel Adams and Nancy Newhall created the Sierra Club Exhibit Format Series, which helped raise public environmental awareness and brought a rapidly increasing flood of new members to the Sierra Club and to the environmental movement in general. This Is Dinosaur, edited by Wallace Stegner with photographs by Martin Litton and Philip Hyde, prevented the building of dams within Dinosaur National Monument by becoming part of a new kind of activism called environmentalism that combined the conservationist ideals of Thoreau, Leopold and Muir with hard-hitting advertising, lobbying, book distribution, letter writing campaigns, and more. The powerful use of photography in addition to the written word for conservation dated back to the creation of Yosemite National Park, when photographs persuaded Abraham Lincoln to preserve the beautiful glacier carved landscape for all time. The Sierra Club Exhibit Format Series galvanised public opposition to building dams in the Grand Canyon and protected many other national treasures. The Sierra Club often led a coalition of many environmental groups including the Wilderness Society and many others.
After a focus on preserving wilderness in the 1950s and 1960s, the Sierra Club and other groups broadened their focus to include such issues as air and water pollution, population concern, and curbing the exploitation of natural resources.
In the 1970s, the environmental movement gained rapid speed around the world as a productive outgrowth of the counterculture movement.
The world's first political parties to campaign on a predominantly environmental platform were the
Protection of the environment also became important in the
Another milestone in the movement was the creation of
The UN's first major conference on international environmental issues, the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment (also known as the Stockholm Conference), was held on 5–16 June 1972. It marked a turning point in the development of international environmental politics.
By the mid-1970s, many felt that people were on the edge of environmental catastrophe. The
In 1979, James Lovelock, a British scientist, published Gaia: A new look at life on Earth, which put forth the Gaia hypothesis; it proposes that life on earth can be understood as a single organism. This became an important part of the Deep Green ideology. Throughout the rest of the history of environmentalism there has been debate and argument between more radical followers of this Deep Green ideology and more mainstream environmentalists.
21st century and beyond
Environmentalism continues to evolve to face up to new issues such as
Research demonstrates a precipitous decline in the US public's interest in 19 different areas of environmental concern. Americans are less likely to be actively participating in an environmental movement or organisation and more likely to identify as "unsympathetic" to an environmental movement than in 2000. This is likely a lingering factor of the Great Recession in 2008. Since 2005, the percentage of Americans agreeing that the environment should be given priority over economic growth has dropped 10 points; in contrast, those feeling that growth should be given priority "even if the environment suffers to some extent" has risen 12 percent. Nevertheless, a recent National Geographic survey indicated strong desire for commitment across a dozen countries, indicating a majority were in favour of more than half of the Earth's land surface being protected.
New forms of ecoactivism
Tree sitting is a form of activism in which the protester sits in a tree in an attempt to stop the removal of a tree or to impede the demolition of an area with the longest and most famous tree-sitter being Julia Butterfly Hill, who spent 738 days in a California Redwood, saving a three-acre tract of forest. Also notable is the Yellow Finch tree sit, which was a 932-day blockade of the Mountain Valley Pipeline from 2018 to 2021.
Sit-ins can be used to encourage social change, such as the Greensboro sit-ins, a series of protests in 1960 to stop racial segregation, but can also be used in ecoactivism, as in the Dakota Access Pipeline Protest.
The Rebel Zapatista Autonomous Municipalities are firmly environmentalist and have stopped the extraction of oil, uranium, timber and metal from the Lacandon Jungle and stopped the use of pesticides and chemical fertilisers in farming.
The environmental movement (a term that sometimes includes the conservation and green movements) is a diverse scientific, social, and political movement. Though the movement is represented by a range of organisations, because of the inclusion of environmentalism in the classroom curriculum, the environmental movement has a younger demographic than is common in other social movements (see green seniors).
Environmentalism as a movement covers broad areas of institutional oppression, including for example: consumption of ecosystems and natural resources into waste, dumping waste into disadvantaged communities, air pollution, water pollution, weak infrastructure, exposure of organic life to toxins, mono-culture, anti-polythene drive (jhola movement) and various other focuses. Because of these divisions, the environmental movement can be categorized into these primary focuses: environmental science, environmental activism, environmental advocacy, and environmental justice.
Free market environmentalism
Free market environmentalism is a theory that argues that the
Evangelical environmentalism is an environmental movement in the United States in which some Evangelicals have emphasized biblical mandates concerning humanity's role as steward and subsequent responsibility for the care taking of Creation. While the movement has focused on different environmental issues, it is best known for its focus of addressing climate action from a biblically grounded theological perspective. This movement is controversial among some non-Christian environmentalists due to its rooting in a specific religion.
Preservation and conservation
Environmental preservation in the United States and other parts of the world, including Australia, is viewed as the setting aside of natural resources to prevent damage caused by contact with humans or by certain human activities, such as logging, mining, hunting, and fishing, often to replace them with new human activities such as tourism and recreation. Regulations and laws may be enacted for the preservation of natural resources.
Organisations and conferences
Environmental organisations can be global, regional, national or local; they can be government-run or private (
Some US environmental organisations, among them the
On an international level, concern for the environment was the subject of a
Notable environmental protests and campaigns include:
- 2010 Xinfa aluminum plant protest
- Anti-WAAhnsinns Festival
- Car-Free Days
- Camp for Climate Action
- Campaign against Climate Change
- Climate Rush
- Cofán people oil drilling protest (Ecuador)
- Earth Day
- Earth First!
- Earthlife Africa
- Global Climate Strikes
- Global Day of Action
- Gurindji Strike
- Hands off our Forest
- Homes before Roads
- Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta
- Love Canal protests
- March Against Monsanto
- Nevada Desert Experience
- Plane Mad
- Plane Stupid
- Qidong protest
- Save Manapouri Campaign
- Say Yes demonstrations
- Shifang protest
- Stop Climate Chaos
Notable advocates for environmental protection and sustainability include:
- Edward Abbey (author)
- David Attenborough (broadcaster, naturalist)
- John James Audubon (naturalist)
- Judi Bari (environmentalist)
- Frances Beinecke (environmentalist and former president of the Natural Resources Defense Council)
- David Bellamy (botanist)
- Wendell Berry (farmer, philosopher)
- Murray Bookchin (anarchist, philosopher, social ecologist)
- Erin Brockovich (environmental lawyer and activist)
- David Brower (writer, activist)
- Lester Brown(environmental analyst, author)
- Carol Browner (lawyer and activist)
- Kevin Buzzacott (Aboriginal activist)
- Berta Caceres(environmental and indigenous rights activist)
- Helen Caldicott (medical doctor)
- Rachel Carson (biologist, writer)
- Majora Carter (urban revitalization strategist)
- Prince Charles(British Royal Family member)
- Barry Commoner (biologist, politician)
- Jacques-Yves Cousteau(explorer, ecologist)
- Herman Daly (ecological economist and steady-state theorist)
- Peter Dauvergne (political scientist)
- Laurie David (activist and producer)
- Marina DeBris (environmental artist)
- Leonardo DiCaprio (actor and environmentalist)
- Sylvia Earle (marine biologist)
- Paul R. Ehrlich (population biologist)
- Green Partymember)
- Jane Fonda (actor)
- Josh Fox (filmmaker, environmental activist)
- Mizuho Fukushima (politician, activist)
- Peter Garrett (musician, politician)
- Jane Goodall (primatologist, anthropologist, and UN Messenger of Peace)
- Lois Gibbs (Founder of the Center for Health, Environment and Justice)
- Al Gore (former Vice President of the United States)
- Daryl Hannah (activist)
- James Hansen (scientist)
- Garrett Hardin (ecologist, ecophilosopher)
- Denis Hayes (environmentalist and solar power advocate)
- Julia Butterfly Hill (activist)
- Robert Hunter (journalist, co-founder and first president of Greenpeace)
- Tetsunari Iida (sustainable energy advocate)
- Lisa P. Jackson (chemical engineer and former administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency)
- Naomi Klein (writer, activist)
- Winona LaDuke (environmentalist)
- Aldo Leopold (ecologist)
- A. Carl Leopold (plant physiologist)
- James Lovelock (scientist)
- Amory Lovins (energy policy analyst)
- Hunter Lovins (environmentalist)
- Caroline Lucas (politician)
- Nobel laureate)
- Jarid Manos (CEO of the Great Plains Restoration Council)
- Xiuhtezcatl Martinez (environmental activist, hip-hop artist)
- Bill McKibben (writer, activist)
- David McTaggart (activist)
- Chico Mendes (activist)
- Joni Mitchell (musician, environmental activist)
- George Monbiot (journalist)
- John Muir (naturalist, activist)
- Ralph Nader (activist)
- Gaylord Nelson (politician)
- environmental consultant and energy efficiency pioneer)
- Gifford Pinchot (first chief of the USFS)
- Jonathon Porritt (politician)
- John Wesley Powell (second director of the USGS)
- Barbara Pyle (documentarian and executive producer of Captain Planet and the Planeteers)
- Phil Radford (environmental, clean energy and democracy advocate, Greenpeace Executive Director)
- Bonnie Raitt (musician)
- Theodore Roosevelt (former President of the United States)
- Habiba Sarobi(politician and activist)
- E. F. Schumacher (author of Small Is Beautiful)
- Vandana Shiva (ecofeminist and activist)
- Marina Silva (politician and activist)
- Alicia Silverstone (activist and author of The Kind Diet)
- Lauren Singer (activist and entrepreneur)
- Swami Sundaranand (Yogi, photographer, and mountaineer)
- Cass Sunstein (environmental lawyer)
- David Suzuki (scientist, broadcaster)
- Henry David Thoreau (writer, philosopher)
- Greta Thunberg (environmentalist)
- Stewart Udall (former United States Secretary of the Interior)
- Jo Valentine (politician and activist)
- Dominique Voynet (politician and environmentalist)
- Christopher O. Ward (water infrastructure expert)
- Alice Waters (activist and restaurateur)
- Gabriel Willow (environmental educator, naturalist)
- Howard Zahniser (author of the 1964 Wilderness Act)
Every year, more than 100 environmental activists are murdered throughout the world. Most recent deaths are in Brazil, where activists combat logging in the Amazon rainforest.
116 environmental activists were
In popular culture
- The U.S. Forest Service created Smokey the Bear in 1944; he appeared in countless posters, radio and television programs, movies, press releases, and other guises to warn about forest fires.
- The comic strip Mark Trail, by environmentalist Ed Dodd, began in 1946; it still appears weekly in 175 newspapers.
- The children's animated show Captain Planet and the Planeteers, created by Ted Turner and Barbara Pyle in 1989 to inform children about environmental issues. The show aired for six seasons and 113 episodes, in 100 countries worldwide from 1990 to 1996.
- In 1974, Expo 74, the first world's fair to focus on the environment. The theme of Expo 74 was "Celebrating Tomorrow's Fresh New Environment".
- FernGully: The Last Rainforest is an animated motion picture released in 1992, which focuses exclusively on the environment. The movie is based on a book under the same title by Diana Young. In 1998, a sequel, FernGully 2: The Magical Rescue, was introduced.
- World Wildlife Foundation(WWF).
- Another area of environmentalism is to use art to raise awareness about misuse of the environment. One example is trashion, using trash to create clothes, jewelry, and other objects for the home. Marina DeBris is one trashion artist, who focuses on ocean and beach trash to design clothes and for fund raising, education.
Criticism and alternative views
When environmentalism first became popular during the early 20th century, the focus was wilderness protection and wildlife preservation. These goals reflected the interests of the movement's initial, primarily white middle and upper class supporters, including through viewing preservation and protection via a lens that failed to appreciate the centuries-long work of indigenous communities who had lived without ushering in the types of environmental devastation these settler colonial "environmentalists" now sought to mitigate. The actions of many mainstream environmental organizations still reflect these early principles.
As a result, some minorities have viewed the environmental movement as elitist. Environmental elitism manifested itself in three different forms:
- Compositional – Environmentalists are from the middle and upper class.
- Ideological – The reforms benefit the movement's supporters but impose costs on nonparticipants.
- Impact – The reforms have "regressive social impacts". They disproportionately benefit environmentalists and harm underrepresented populations.
Many environmentalists believe that human interference with 'nature' should be restricted or minimised as a matter of urgency (for the sake of life, or the planet, or just for the benefit of the human species),
In the 2000s, American author, film director, medical graduate and intellect Michael Crichton criticized environmentalism as being religiously motivated rather than grounded in empirical evidence, arguing that climate change was a natural part of Earth's history and had been occurring long before humans dominated the planet. Also claiming to argue from his minor education in anthropology, he stated that religion was a part of human social make-up and that if it was suppressed, it would simply re-emerge in another form. With the decline of Christianity and Church attendance in the Western world, environmentalism has become more popular according to him, which he termed as "the religion of urban atheists".
Others seek a balance that involves both caring deeply for the environment while letting science guide human actions affecting it. Such an approach would avoid the emotionalism which, for example, anti-
- Outline of environmentalism
- Climate movement
- Conservation movement
- Human ecology
- Human impact on the environment
- Nature conservation
- Radical environmentalism
- Religion and environmentalism
- List of climate scientists
- List of women climate scientists and activists
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- ^ Das, Dibakar (September–October 2020). "When Environmentalism Clashes with Science". Skeptical Inquirer. Vol. 44, no. 5. Amherst, New York: Center for Inquiry. pp. 54–55.
- Borowy, Iris. "Before UNEP: who was in charge of the global environment? The struggle for institutional responsibility 1968–72." Journal of Global History 14.1 (2019): 87-106.
- Daynes, Byron W., and Glen Sussman, eds. White House Politics and the Environment: Franklin D. Roosevelt to George W. Bush (Texas A&M University Press; 2010) 300 pages; evaluates how 12 presidents helped or hindered the cause of environmental protection.
- Johnson, Erik W., and Scott Frickel, (2011). "Ecological Threat and the Founding of U.S. National Environmental Movement Organizations, 1962–1998," Social Problems 58 (Aug. 2011), 305–29.
- Lear, Linda (1997). Rachel Carson: Witness for Nature. New York: Henry Holt and Company. ISBN 978-0-8050-3428-8.
- Martell, Luke. "Ecology and Society: An Introduction". Polity Press, 1994.
- OCLC 33832322
- de Steiguer, J. Edward. 2006. The Origins of Modern Environmental Thought. University of Arizona Press. Tucson. 246 pp. ISBN 9780816524617
- Tooze, Adam, "Democracy and Its Discontents", The New York Review of Books, vol. LXVI, no. 10 (6 June 2019), pp. 52–53, 56–57. "Democracy has no clear answer for the mindless operation of bureaucratic and technological power. We may indeed be witnessing its extension in the form of artificial intelligence and robotics. Likewise, after decades of dire warning, the environmental problem remains fundamentally unaddressed.... Bureaucratic overreach and environmental catastrophe are precisely the kinds of slow-moving existential challenges that democracies deal with very badly.... Finally, there is the threat du jour: corporations and the technologies they promote." (pp. 56–57.)
- Verweij, Marco; Thompson, Michael (eds), 2006, Clumsy Solutions for a Complex World: Governance, Politics and Plural Perceptions, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, ISBN 978-0-230-00230-2
- Vogel, David. California Greenin': How the Golden State Became an Environmental Leader (2018) 280 pp online review
- Woodhouse, Keith M. "The Politics of Ecology: Environmentalism and Liberalism in the 1960s," Journal for the Study of Radicalism, Volume 2, Number 2, 2009, pp. 53–84
- World Bank, 2003, "Sustainable Development in a Dynamic World: Transforming Institutions, Growth, and Quality of Life", World Development Report 2003, International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and Oxford University Press.
- Environment at Curlie
- Westland – A Canadian television series (1984–2007) on a broad range of environmental issues, from the UBC Library Digital Collections
- The Directory of Environmental Websites