AP Environmental Timeline

  • 8000 BCE

    Agricultural revolution

    10,000 years ago
  • Industrial revolution

    Industrial revolution
    275 years ago (the industrial revolution began in 1760)
  • John Muir Birth date (a Scottish-born American)

    John Muir Birth date (a Scottish-born American)
    He was many things including a writer, a botanist, an inventor, a geologist, a glaciologist, an explorer, and an influential naturalist. He involved in the creation of not only the Yosemite National Park but also the Grand Canyon, Kings Canyon, Petrified Forest, and Mt. Rainier National Parks. He is also known as “The Father of Our National Park System” and co-founded the Sierra Club, as its first president until his death in 1914.
  • Walden by Henry David Thoreau

    Walden by Henry David Thoreau
    Walden was written about Thoreau’s experience and his Walden Pond experiment. Thoreau laid the foundation and helped shape the thinking for modern-day environmentalism. He wrote, “In Wildness is the preservation of the World.”
  • Homestead Act

    Signed by President Abraham Lincoln and enacted during the Civil War. It provided any adult citizen, or intended citizen, who had never used arms (weapons) against the U.S. government could claim 160 acres of surveyed government land. They were required to “improve” the plot by building a place to live and cultivating the land.
  • Yellowstone National Park founded

  • American Forestry Association founded

    Founded by concerned citizens that were led by Dr. John Aston Warder, a physician, and horticulturist. It was in response to rapid and wasteful postwar development and intense wildfires. They do not oppose progress but want to advocate for a safe, science-based strategy to manage and conserve our forestlands.
  • Yosemite plus Sequoia National Park founded

    Yosemite plus Sequoia National Park founded
  • General Revision Act

    This act gave the President authority to set aside and reserve any part of public lands, wholly or partly covered with timber, as public reservations. In the next two following years, President Benjamin Harrison established the Pecos River Forest Reserve and the Grand Canyon Forest Reserve, which provided the beginning of the National Forest System in the region.
  • Sierra Club founded

    The first members of the Sierra Club were originally focused on the conservation of California’s Sierra Nevada mountains but later on evolved into an organization that works for advance climate solutions, the health of everyone, and to ensure the availability of clean air, clean water, and a healthy environment for everyone. They have helped secure protection for 439 parks and monuments as well as the winning passage of the Clean Air and Endangered Species Act.
  • Lacey Act

    It was the first federal law protecting wildlife. The Lacey Act enforces civil and criminal penalties for the illegal trade of animals and plants, now regulating the import of any species protected by international or domestic law and prevents the spread of any invasive, or non-native, species.
  • Period: to

    Golden Age of Conservation (Theodore Roosevelt)

  • First national wildlife refuge established

  • U.S. Forest Service founded

    They are a federal agency under the U.S. Department of Agriculture that manages 193 million acres of land and provide technical and financial assistance to state and private forestry agencies. They make up the largest forestry research organization in the world. The Forest Service was established to provide quality water and timber for the nation’s benefit but later told widen its management scope for additional multiple uses and benefits and for the sustained yield of renewable resources.
  • Gifford Pinchot

    Gifford Pinchot
    He was the first chief of the U.S. Forests Service and known as the “father of conservation”. His conservation theory combined with John Muir’s idea of preservation and Gifford, along with his brothers, founded the Yale School of Forestry. Pinchot and President Theodore Roosevelt, our greatest environmental president, led a national conservation movement and under Pinchot’s control, national forests increased from 32 to 149.
  • Aldo Leopold

    Aldo Leopold
    Leopold was a conservationist, writer, and many more who was known to many as the father of wildlife management and the U.S. wilderness system. He was involved in developing the proposal to manage the Gila National Forest as a wilderness area and his collection of essays A Sand Country Almanac was one of the most respected books about the environment to be published. One of his best-known ideas is the “land ethic,’ which is an ethical, caring relationship between people and nature.
  • Audubon Society founded

    It was found to protect birds and the places they need by using science, education, and on-the-ground conservation. The society was named after John James Audubon (1785-1851) who was born in Haiti, raised in France and moved to the United States when he was eighteen. The organization was dedicated to animals and their habitats but mainly focused on the preservation and study of bird species.
  • Antiquities Act

    It is the first law to establish that archeological sites on public lands are important public resources and authorized the President to protect landmarks, structures, and objects of historic or scientific interest. It obligates federal agencies to manage the public land to preserve for present and future generations for various reasons.
  • Congress became upset because Roosevelt was waving so much forest land so they banned further withdrawals

  • U.S. National Park service founded

  • Period: to

    Dust bowl

  • Civilian Conservation Corps founded

    The CCC was a work relief program that gave millions of unemployed young men, around the age (about) 17-28, employment on environmental projects during the Great Depression. It helped shape the modern nation and state park systems. It provided work for a total of 3 million during its existence.
  • Soil Conservation Service founded

    Created by the Soil Conservation Act of 1935, which was signed by President Roosevelt. It is within the Department of Agriculture (USDA) and is now known as the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCA). They work to maintain healthy and productive working landscapes.
  • Taylor Grazing Act

    This act was in response to requests from Western ranchers. It was passed to halt overgrazing.
  • Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp Act

    Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp Act
    This act required each waterfowl hunter 16 years of age or older to possess a valid Federal hunting stamp. It was made in response to the unprecedented declines in waterfowl populations in the early 1900s.
  • Fish plus Wildlife Service founded

    This agency is the oldest federal conservation agency and manages National wildlife refuges, protects endangered species, manages migratory birds, restores nationally significant fisheries among other things.
  • Silent Spring published by Rachel Carson

    Silent Spring published by Rachel Carson
    This book was written to expose the hazards of the pesticide DDT. It detailed the hazardous environmental effects of pesticides and herbicides being used in the United States.
  • Wilderness Act

    According to the U.S National Park Service, the Wilderness Act was passed in 1964, signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson and it established the National Wilderness Preservation System. It instructed federal land management agencies, including the National Park Service (NPS), to manage wilderness areas and preserve wilderness character.
  • Clean Air Act (63, 65, 70, 77, 90)

    This is a comprehensive federal law that regulates all sources of air emissions. It calls for states and EPA to solve multiple air pollution problems and have achieved dramatic reductions in air pollution. They are preventing hundreds of thousands of cases of serious health effects each year because of the progress we have made with reducing air pollution.
  • Wild and Scenic Rivers Act

    It was created to preserve certain rivers with outstanding natural, cultural, and recreational values in a free-flowing condition for many generations to enjoy. They safeguard the special characters of those rivers while recognizing the potential for their appropriate use and development.
  • Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, Ohio

    Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, Ohio
    This river is polluted from decades of industrial waste It has caught on fire 13 separate times. As Cleveland continued production, it maintained the littering of the Cuyahoga River. The fires from this river made our nation aware of the environmental and health threats of river pollution.
  • NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act)

    According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, NEPA requires federal agencies to assess the environmental effects of their proposed actions prior to making decisions. It covered many actions, an example being the construction of a new highway and etc.
  • First Earth Day

  • Environmental Protection Agency established

  • FIFRA (75, 79, 88)

    Also known as the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, which is the Federal law that governs the registration, distribution, sale, and use of pesticides in the United States. They are focused on the sale, distribution, and use as well as disposal, sometimes, of pesticides.
  • Endangered Species Act

  • OPEC oil embargo

    OPEC, the Arab-dominated Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, decided to cut oil exports to the United States and other nations that provided military aid to Isreal in the Yom Kippur War of October 1973. This decision prompted a serious energy crisis in nations dependent on foreign oil. Oil prices skyrocket but the embargo was lifted by U.S. Secretary of State Henrey Kissinger in March 1974, when he succeeded in negotiating a military disengagement agreement between Syria and Isreal.
  • Roland and Molina (UCI) announce that CFC's are depleting the ozone layer

  • Clean Water Act

    Originally known as the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, it is the federal law that regulates the discharges of pollutants in the nation’s surface waters such as lakes and wetlands. This act establishes the basic structure for regulating discharges of pollutants into the water of our nation and regulating quality standards for surface waters.
  • Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act

    This act balances the need to protect the environment with the adverse effect of surface coal mining with coal being our nation’s essential energy source. It ensures that coal mining operations are done in environmentally responsible manners. States have the primary responsibility to regulate surface coal mining and OSMRE as an oversight role.
  • Love Canal, NY (Toxic waste leaks into residential houses)

    Love Canal, NY (Toxic waste leaks into residential houses)
    The Love Canal was meant to be a dream community but the project led by William T. Love did not pull through. There was a partial ditch where construction of the canal had begun but later became into a municipal and industrial chemical dumpsite. Love Canal exploded later, triggered by a recorded amount of rainfall before puddles of noxious substances were found and the birth of children with birth defects.
  • 3 Mile Island Nuclear accident

    This was the most serious accident in the U.S. commercial nuclear power plant operating history, it brought on many changes which significantly enhanced U.S. reactor safety. This partial meltdown and small radioactive release had no detectable health effects and effects on the area but it helped bring awareness to the nuclear power plant management. It caused the NRC to tighten and heighten its regulatory oversight and sweeping changes involving many areas of those operations.
  • Alaskan Lands Act

    This designated certain public lands in Alaska as units of the National Park, National Wildlife Refuge, Wild and Scenic Rivers, National Wilderness Preservation, and National Forest Systems, resulting in the general expansion of all systems. It also terminated all withdrawals made by the President and the Secretary in Alaska from 1978 to 1980. It established more than 1000 million acres of federal land in Alaska as new or expanded conservation system units (CSUs).
  • CERCLA ((superfund) 86, 90)

    Passed in response to some alarming and decidedly unacceptable hazardous waste practices and management going on in the 1970s. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, it created a tax on the chemical and petroleum industries and provided broad Federal authority to respond directly to releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances that may endanger public health or the environment. Money collected and the tax went to a trust fund for cleaning up hazardous waste sites.
  • Bhopal, Indian (chemical toxic cloud kills 2,000)

    This accident at the Union Carbide pesticide plant released at least 30 tons of a highly toxic gas called methyl isocyanate, as well as a number of other poisonous gases, which killed more than 15,000 people and affected over 600,000 workers. The gas killed over 2,000 animals and was absorbed into local rivers, making them undrinkable and poisoning the fish. Warren Anderson was held responsible for this tragedy and charges with culpable homicide.
  • Chernobyl

    An explosion of a Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine was widely considered the worst nuclear disaster the world has ever seen. Caused by a flawed Soviet reactor design that was operated with inadequately trained personnel and resulted in the release of at least 5% of the radioactive reactor core into the environment as well as the disposition of radioactive materials on open surfaces. Psychological effects remained widespread and profound resulting in suicides, alcohol abuse, and apathy.
  • Montreal Protocol

    This is an international agreement to protect the stratospheric ozone layer by phasing out the production and consumption of ozone-depleting substances, also known as ODS. Made to help protect the Earth’s ozone layer, it has been extremely successful with nearly 99% of ozone-depleting substances phased out of date.
  • Exxon Valdez

    Exxon Valdez
    The Exxon Valdez oil spill was, at the time, the largest oil spill in U.S. waters. Exxon paid about $3.8 billion, for cleanup and habitat restoration as well as personal damages related to the spill. The oil spill took a major toll on wildlife, killing many wildlife animals and an estimated 40 percent of all sea otters living in the Sound.
  • Energy Policy Act of 1992

    This act addresses energy production in our nation, including 12 different types of energy sources. It provides loan guarantees for those who are trying to develop or use innovative technologies that avoid the by-production of greenhouse gases. This act also increases the amount of biofuel that must be mixed with the gasoline sold in our nation.
  • Period: to

    1997-2005 Kyoto Protocol

    The Kyoto Protocol ended in 2012 because global emissions were still on the rise in 2005 and the United States believed that it was unfair since it forced industrialized nations only to limit emissions reductions. They believed that it would hurt the U.S. economy. This international agreement called for industrialized nations to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions significantly and in the base year, allowance for emission reductions from land use changed was permitted.
  • Deepwater Horizon Water Spill

    Deepwater Horizon Water Spill
    Deepwater Horizon, an oil drilling rig that was operating in the Macondo Prospect in the Gulf of Mexico, exploded and sank on April 20, 2010, resulting in the death of 11 workers and the largest spill of oil in the history of marine oil drilling operations. It remains one of the worst environmental disasters in world history as it caused many effects on the environment. It caused 20% of all oceanic juvenile Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles during the time to perish.
  • Tsunami in Japan

    Caused by the largest earthquake to hit Japan, a 9.1 magnitude earthquake, it led to a tsunami that damaged several nuclear reactors in the area. It had effects on water supply, sewage networks, and coastal ecosystems. This event resulted in widespread infrastructure destruction, loss of life, and environmental contaminations.
  • COP 21 Summit reduction of Carbon emissions

    The Paris Climate Conference reached a landmark agreement to combat climate change and to accelerate and intensify the actions and investments needed for a sustainable low carbon future. It is a universal effort with two key focuses: reducing GHG emissions by 2025-2030, adapting, or reducing vulnerability to the effects of climate change.
  • UNEP summit in Rwanda to phase out HFC's

    HFCs, hydrofluorocarbons, are commonly used alternatives to ozone-depleting substances (ODS). This is another global commitment to stop global change. Due to climate change, people in Africa are witnessing disastrous droughts and losing their lives which is why they worked hard to negotiate and reach a deal to phase down the production and usage of HFCS.