HIST 125: History of the American Green Movement

Timeline created by clarecondon
In History
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    Lewis and Clark Expedition

    It is a contentiously held debate when exactly the American environmental movement had its humble beginnings, but most findings point towards exploration of the vast American west by Capt. Meriweather Lewis and Lieut. William Clark. Their three-year trek across these geographically diverse lands helped to establish a pathway for the new nation from coast to coast, which many people would later follow to their self-proclaimed destiny.
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson Publishes "Nature"

    Ralph Waldo Emerson Publishes "Nature"
    Ralph Waldo Emerson, an American essayist and philosopher, published "Nature" in 1836. His novel spurred the transcendentalist philosophy and movement (along with Henry David Thoreau) due to its values of self-reliance, independence, and divinity of nature. His publication was the first of its kind to value nature intrinsically, spiritually, and religiously.
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    John Muir

    John Muir is regarded as a primary figure in the American Green Movement, was called "Father of National Parks". He used his platform to advocate for the protection of the environment and its resources through preservationist ideals. He wrote 10 major books and over 300 articles recounting his expeditions of the natural world, which directed the general public's attention towards the appreciation of and for the outdoors.
  • Manifest Destiny

    Manifest Destiny
    The Manifest Destiny was the belief that American settlers were "destined" to expand its dominion North America, leading to the mass migration of settlers to the West Coast. Not only was this environmentally significant due to the fact that it was the first time large numbers of people were venturing out West into new lands, but also because white settlers practiced environmental injustice by stripping Native Americans of their land and resources.
  • U.S. Department of the Interior

    U.S. Department of the Interior
    The U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) is created as a federal agency within the U.S. government directed at protecting American lands and cultural heritage. This is significant because it was the national recognition of the vital connection between North American history and the environment, as well as the promotion of the importance of outdoor education and opportunities to enjoy nature for the masses.
  • Henry David Thoreau Publishes "Walden"

    Henry David Thoreau Publishes "Walden"
    Henry David Thoreau, an American essayist and naturalist, published Walden, which spurred the transcendentalist philosophy (along with Ralph Waldo Emerson) and movement in America. It was the first well-known publications that romanticized nature and highlighted self-reliance, independence, solitude, and closeness to nature.
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    Theodore Roosevelt

    Theodore Roosevelt is regarded as one of the primary figures in the American Green Movement, and used his political platform as president to advocate for the conservation and preservation of the outdoors. During his term, he signed five national parks, 18 national monuments, 150 national forests, and 55 national bird and wildlife sanctuaries into existence.
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    George Washington Carver

    George Washington Carver was an American agricultural scientist and inventor who contributed to the environmental movement by suggesting to create and use renewable resources from agricultural products. This is significant because during this time, oil and automotive industries were 1) popular 2) said renewable resources were not achievable, but Carver challenged that by paving the way towards sustainable agriculture.
  • The Yosemite Grant Act

    The Yosemite Grant Act
    On June 30th, 1864, Abraham Lincoln signed the Yosemite Grant Act, which established Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove in California as protected wilderness areas. This was seen as the nation's first act of wilderness preservation, as well as the birth of the national parks system.
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    Gifford Pinchot

    Gifford Pinchot was an American politician and forester, and is regarded as the father of American conservation. He served as the first head of the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and 28th Governor of Pennsylvania. He is well known for advocating for the conservation (the proper use of nature) of the environment and its resources. Him and John Muir butted heads with their opposing viewpoints on the protection of nature, from which flowered two environmental ideals: Conservation vs. Preservation.
  • Establishment of Yellowstone National Park

    Establishment of Yellowstone National Park
    The establishment of Yellowstone National Park was monumental, as it created not only the countries first national park, but the entire worlds! The act was one of the first acknowledgements of the significance to preserve and conserve wilderness, as it protects of more than 2 million acres. It also set a precedence for setting aside land for the enjoyment of people.
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    Industrial Revolution

    The American Industrial Revolution was a major turning point in the environmental history of America. This was when humans began to have a major impact on the environment, and began manipulating Earth's resources on a scale never seen before. Water pollution, air pollution, conservation of wilderness areas all began to become an issue, and we started to see reforms, federal laws, and parks to be established across America.
  • The Boone and Crockett Club

    The Boone and Crockett Club
    The Boone and Crockett Club is founded by environmental advocate and politician Theodore Roosevelt in an effort to bring together proponents of land and wildlife conservation and hunting. The organization highlights the balance between the hunting tradition and management of wildlife through natural resource management. This is significant because it was the first step towards integrating environmental stewardship and market hunting, which was unrestricted until the establishment of this group.
  • The Sierra Club

    The Sierra Club
    John Muir, a fundamental figure in the American Green Movement through his advocation for wilderness preservation, founded the first environmental organization: The Sierra Club. The intention behind the establishment of The Sierra Club was (and continues to be) to preserve clean air, clean water, and a healthy environment for everyone.
  • Invention of Mass Destruction Mining

    Invention of Mass Destruction Mining
    During the Industrial Revolution, mass destruction mining, otherwise known as open pit mining, was created and implemented by industries on a large scale. Open pit mining is a process that digs away at mountains to extract minerals and metals. As a result, it leaves scars in the landscape and accelerates erosion. This is significant because it displays how the Industrial Revolution led to a growth in technology that allowed us to extract and utilize natural resources on a large scale
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    Hetch Hetchy Controversy

    The battle for Hetch Hetchy, a part of Yosemite Park, was the first effort at "grassroots lobbying". The debate was centered around whether or not to preserve the land (preservation - John Muir's argument) or to fill it in as a reservoir (conservation - Gifford Pinchot's argument). These arguments brought about two separate ideologies that established different values towards the environment that are widely practiced in today.
  • National Monuments and the Antiquities Act

    National Monuments and the Antiquities Act
    National Monuments and the Antiquities Act of 1902, passed by president Theodore Roosevelt (who was widely known for his passion for the outdoors), helped to establish protection for landmarks and monuments on federal lands. This was a significant contribution towards the preservation of wilderness areas and set a precedent for the enjoyment of nature for the masses.
  • The National Park Service

    The National Park Service
    The creation of the National Park Service (NPS) was a defining moment in the American Green Movement, as a federal government organization designated towards the protection, preservation, and conservation of all national parks, national monuments, and historical properties for the enjoyment and education of the American people. This organization highlights the intrinsic value of the outdoors, something that was never considered (nature was seen as economically valuable) until its creation.
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    The Dust Bowl

    The Dust Bowl was a period of drought storms that took place in the southwestern Great Plains due to overuse of the land, severe drought, and failure to apply accurate and appropriate methods to drylands farming. As a result, there was widespread public health, environmental, and agricultural impacts. This is significant because it exhibits how American farmers did not know how to properly manage the agricultural needs for the rapidly rising population.
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    Civilian Conservation Corps

    The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was founded and organization by Franklin D. Roosevelt during the Great Depression as a public work relief program. The CCC granted environmental work to millions of men during a time of the greatest struggle in America, showing the value of organized activism and conservation efforts. This group contributed to the planting of three billion trees and the maintenance and structures in many of our national parks.
  • The Wilderness Society

    The Wilderness Society
    On January 21st, 1935, The Wilderness Society was founded in an effort to protect and preserve natural areas and public lands and advocate for the designation of wilderness areas for public enjoyment and cultural protection. This is significant because it was one of the first environmental organizations dedicated towards environmental advocacy and preservation of the natural world.
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

    U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFS), a section within the U.S. Department of Interior, was created to manage and conserve fish and wildlife, as well as their habitats, in the United States. This is significant because the government recognized the importance of maintaining the health of fish and wildlife species in order to maintain the health of the overall environment.
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    Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

    The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by America during World War II was the first time nuclear weapons were used in warfare, and it brought into question the ability of nuclear weapons to wipe out entire human races. In addition to that, the weapons created environmental destruction on a scale never seen before, and continues to have pervading effects on the people and landscape of Japan. Due to the aftermath of this event, there have been major federal rules and regulations implemented.
  • Bureau of Land Management

    Bureau of Land Management
    The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), a section with the U.S. Department of Interior, was created to serve as a government agency responsible for administering and managing federal lands. Their goal is directed at protecting public lands for the enjoyment of the general public. This is significant because it brought attention to the importance of the outdoors for leisure and enjoyment purposes (intrinsic) rather than management of land for natural resource and economic use (extrinsic).
  • Aldo Leopold Publishes "A Sand County Almanac"

    Aldo Leopold Publishes "A Sand County Almanac"
    Aldo Leopold, an American forester, environmentalist, and ecologist, published A Sand County Almanac in an appeal to moral responsibility towards the natural world. It introduced the "land ethic", a term that encompasses community to include all biotic and abiotic components of the environment (land, air, water, etc.), as a moral compass for how we should live on Earth
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    The Great Acceleration

    The Great Acceleration is a development in the latter half of the 20th century that refers to the dramatic uptick in the American population, economic activity, resource use, and transportation. This is significant in the environmental history of America because it led to an acceleration of environmental problems (more humans = more consumption of natural resources) and hinted at global climate change and ozone depletion.
  • The Nature Conservancy

    The Nature Conservancy
    The Nature Conservancy is founded in order to preserve and protect the environments resources and biodiversity, as well as to bring together scientists and the general public in conservation efforts. The establishment of this organization is significant because it was started by scientists with the intent of gathering ecologically important reserves, but ended up becoming the largest global environmental nonprofit.
  • World Wildlife Fund

    World Wildlife Fund
    The World Wildlife Fund is founded to help conserve nature and to spur action in order drastically decrease threats to biodiversity, especially from human development. This was a significant contribution to the conservation effort because it brought worldwide attention to the importance of protecting endangered species, as well as bringing scientists and the general population together in collaborative environmental efforts.
  • Rachel Carson Publishes "Silent Spring"

    Rachel Carson Publishes "Silent Spring"
    Rachel Carson, a marine biologist and conservationist, published "Silent Spring" in an attempt to bring awareness towards the detrimental effects the use of pesticides has on the environment. Her book spurred a bipartisan effort in preserving our environment and brought awareness towards the fact that nature was and is vulnerable to human intervention.
  • The Clean Air Act of 1963

    The Clean Air Act of 1963
    On December 17th, 1963, president Lyndon B. Johnson passed the Clean Air Act, signifying the importance of researching and regulating air pollution through government intervention. It compromises some of the most comprehensive air-quality control measures. Furthermore, this spurred the creation and passing of other environmental protection laws in the latter half of the 20th century.
  • Wilderness Act of 1964

    Wilderness Act of 1964
    On October 3rd, 1964, president Lyndon B. Johnson passed the Wilderness Act, protecting 9.1 million acres of federal land, establishing the National Wilderness Preservation System, and guiding environmental organizations on how to manage wilderness areas. This was a monumental act for a number of reasons: it set precedence for the importance of preserving and conserving American lands, it created credibility for environmental organizations, and it paved the way for for environmental legislation.
  • Motor Vehicle Air Pollution Control Act of 1965

    Motor Vehicle Air Pollution Control Act of 1965
    The Motor Vehicle Air Pollution Control Act of 1965 was passed as a federal law that set the first nationwide automobile emission standards. This was the first recognition that of the negative effects of greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles and attempt to decrease these emissions to prevent the consequences from further impacting our atmosphere.
  • Paul Ehrlich Publishes "The Population Bomb"

    Paul Ehrlich Publishes "The Population Bomb"
    "The Population Bomb" was published by Paul Ehrlich to warn the general public about the consequences of global overpopulation. The book included lots of scare tactics that created mass hysteria focused on starvation, societal upheaval, and environmental degradation in the coming decades. The main message of this book garnered attention towards limiting consumption of natural resources.
  • Council of Environmental Quality

    Council of Environmental Quality
    The Council of Environmental Quality (CEQ) is a federal executive agency that was established to collaborate with other (environmental) agencies to develop, fund, and manage environmental policies and initiatives in order to improve and preserve Americas public health and the outdoors. This agency is significant because it highlights the recognition of the fundamental connection between human health and the environment, an important part in the history of the American Green Movement.
  • The Natural Reserve and Defense Council, Inc.

    The Natural Reserve and Defense Council, Inc.
    The NRDC was founded by a group of law students and attorneys in order to join together scientists, environmental lawyers and policy advocates, and the general public in promoting environmental education and policy implementation. This is significant in the history of the American environmental movement because it shed light on the important of environmental policies in local, state, and national governments in order to help preserve and protect our environment.
  • The National Environmental Policy Act

    The National Environmental Policy Act
    The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is enacted as one of the first environmental laws that establishes a national framework from protection and preservation of our environment. It promoted the implementation and practice of Environment Assessments and Environmental Impact Statements from all federal agencies in order to review the significant environmental affects of proposed actions.
  • Celebration of the first Earth Day

    Celebration of the first Earth Day
    April 22nd celebrates Earth Day, a day solely dedicated to bringing attention towards appreciation and conservation efforts of and for planet Earth. It brings together people of all races, genders, ethnicities, sexualities, etc. to take actions, no matter how big or small, to help protect the environment.
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration was created to help protect and preserve our oceans, waterways, and our atmosphere. This is significant because the creation of the organization shed light on how human activity began negatively impacted our oceans and the biosphere, and how important it is to prevent further consequences from taking place.
  • Environmental Protection Agency

    Environmental Protection Agency
    The Environmental Protection Agency was created during the Nixon presidency in an attempt to integrate governmental regulation and support into environmental preservation and conservation efforts. It brought attention to the complex, interdependent relationship between human health and environmental health and the importance of protecting both.
  • Greenpeace

    Greenpeace
    Greenpeace is a nonprofit environmental organization that founded by two environmental activists with the goal of bringing attention to and fight against the people and systems that exploit Earth's natural resources. They are well-known for being the first environment organization that utilized non-violent action (tree sits, standing on ice to block ships from passing through, etc.) to promote environmental protection.
  • Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act is Signed into Law

    Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act is Signed into Law
    The Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act (also known as the Ocean Dumping Act) is signed into law into order to protect the oceans and its resources from human behavior. A key component to the act is the regulation of transportation and dumping of material into ocean waters, which was previously unregulated. This is significant because it garnered attention towards water pollution and the importance of waste regulation for ocean and human health.
  • The Endangered Species Act of 1973

    The Endangered Species Act of 1973
    On December 28th, 1973, president Richard Nixon passed the Endangered Species Act in order to provide a list of endangered animal and plant species and granting them protection. It brought attention to the importance of preserving plant and animal biodiversity in America.
  • The Solar Energy Research, Development, and Demonstration Act of 1974

    The Solar Energy Research, Development, and Demonstration Act of 1974
    The Solar Research, Development, and Demonstration Act of 1974 was passed in order to commit the federal government to make solar energy, which was invented a couple decades prior to the act, more affordable and attainable to the general public. This is significant because it was the recognition at the federal level of an attempt to move towards energy sources that do not have such a negative impact on our environment and atmosphere.
  • The Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974

    The Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974
    The Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974 was passed in order to set standard national regulations for public drinking water to protect human health and the environment. This is significant because it was a national recognition that there is an intimate, complex web that interconnected human health to the environment.
  • Edward Abbey publishes "The Monkey Wrench Gang"

    Edward Abbey publishes "The Monkey Wrench Gang"
    Edward Abbey, an American essayist and environmental activist, published "The Monkey Wrench Gang", a story of a band of 'eco-warriors' using sabotage tactics to prevent environmental exploitation. This novel inspired the organization Earth First! to form, who are well known for using (what was / is considered) radical tactics to prevent the exploitation of American wilderness.
  • United States Department of Energy

    United States Department of Energy
    The United States Department of Energy (DOE) is a department in the U.S. government designated to creating and implementing energy and safety policies regarding the handling of nuclear waste. This is significant due to the fact that the organization brought to light the hazards and environmental damage nuclear power plants have the ability to inflict if not properly maintained and managed. Recently, they have channeled their resources towards combatting climate change.
  • Love Canal Disaster

    Love Canal Disaster
    Considered one of the most tragic environmental disasters in American history, The Love Canal brought attention to the consequences of the use of industrial chemicals in the soil and air. 25 years after Hooker Chemical Company stopped using the site as an industrial dump, 20,000 tons of carcinogenic compounds began leaking through the soil into New York suburbs. Immediate action was taken at a federal level, as it made Americans realize that environmental damage can happen anywhere, anytime.
  • Three Mile Island Incident

    Three Mile Island Incident
    The Three Mile Incident was a partial meltdown of a nuclear power generator, which released radioactive gas into the atmosphere. It is considered the most serious U.S. commercial nuclear power plant accident to this very day. Although it had no detectable health effects on the population surrounding the plant, it garnered attention to the negative consequences such plants have not only on the environment but also humans as well.
  • The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980

    The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980
    The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) was passed as a federal law in order to help manage the handling of hazardous waste (sites) and spills through the creation of a "Superfund" (providing liability to those who are in charge of the damage). This is significant because it created a level of accountability for environmental damage that was never before seen or even considered. Industries began to prioritize properly disposing of waste after this.
  • Earth First!

    Earth First!
    Earth First! is a radical environmental organization that was created in the Southwestern United States as a response to the publication of "The Monkey Wrench Gang" by Edward Abbey as an alternative group to mainstream organizations such as The Sierra Club. They are focused on a direct, no-compromise approach to the exploitation of wilderness, and brought attention to themselves by the drastic measures they take to do so.
  • The First American Automobile is Invented

    The First American Automobile is Invented
    In 1983, Frank and Charles Duryea designed the first American gasoline automobile, that would be later manufactured for mass consumption. This is significant because gasoline is a potent greenhouse gas (which was not known at the time) that majorly contributes to global climate change. Once this was discovered, protocols were implemented in the Clean Air Act to decrease the amount of emissions produced by vehicles.
  • Montreal Protocol

    Montreal Protocol
    The Montreal Protocol was seen as one of the first significant international treaties acknowledging the necessity to take and implement actions that help to curb the effects of climate change on planet Earth. It was an implementation of laws and regulations that phased out the production of numerous substances (e.g. CFCs) that are responsible for ozone depletion. The success of the protocol displayed how collective action against environmental degradation is extremely possible.
  • Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

    Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
    The IPCC is an intergovernmental organization within the United Nations that has the goal of providing objective and analytical scientific information and assessments on global climate change. This organization is significant not only for the United States, but for the world, because it creates global awareness on global warming and connects countries in collaborative efforts to educate those on the phenomenon and spur action to prevent further degradation of our atmosphere.
  • Dr. James Hansen detects Global Climate Change

    Dr. James Hansen detects Global Climate Change
    In the year 1988, which is discovered to be the hottest year on record, NASA climatologist Dr. James Hansen testifies that "The greenhouse effect has been detected and is now changing our climate." This is significant because it was the first time global climate change had been recognized by a major scientific organization, and because of this recognition the IPCC was established a couple months later to research more about this phenomenon.
  • Exxon Valdez Oil Spill

    Exxon Valdez Oil Spill
    The Exxon Valdez Spill took place on March 24th, 1989, when an oil tanker spilled 11 million gallons of crude oil in Prince William Sound, Alaska. This was considered the worst oil spill at the time (until Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill) and garnered nationwide attention for the mass environmental destruction it created. A year later, the Oil Pollution Act was passed as federal law to increase penalties for companies responsible for oil spills.
  • The Pollution Prevention Act of 1990

    The Pollution Prevention Act of 1990
    The Pollution Prevention Act of 1990 was passed into federal law for the purpose of implementing policies and preventative measures to reduce the amount of pollution in the environment. This is significant because it introduced the commonly used phrase "Reuse, Reduce, Recycle" to help the general public from polluting our air, waterways, and land.
  • The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

    The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
    The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is an international treaty addressing climate change and the universal preventative measures that are necessary to take in order to curb the effects of it on our environment and future generations. The United States, who's president was George W. Bush at the time, refused to sign the treaty unless the measures were voluntary. This is significant because it made America the black sheep in the fight against climate change.
  • The Prius is Introduced

    The Prius is Introduced
    In 1997, the Prius, America's first mass market hybrid vehicle, was introduced by Toyota. The automobile was manufactured in response to a high demand from Americans for a vehicle that didn't rely solely on fossil fuels, and it quickly became a bestseller. This is significant because not only was it the first time an automobile industry attempted to be more environmentally conscious, but also because it displayed that many Americans wanted to be more environmentally conscious as well.
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    Julia "Butterfly" Hill Tree Sit

    Julia "Butterfly" Hill is an environmental activist who garnered global attention during her two-year tree-sit. As a member of a group of "tree sitters" she committed herself to sitting in an 1800 ft. tree (named Luna) to advocate for the preservation of Redwood Forests from logging. Her dedication cultivated awe and garnered support for the preservation of wilderness areas from industries.
  • Kyoto Protocol

    Kyoto Protocol
    192 countries signed this international treaty, in an effort for industrialized economies and countries to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions to agreed upon targets to curb global warming. This was a milestone global effort that not only signified the widespread acknowledgement of climate change, but also created the first global targets to reduce the effects.
  • Cap and Trade System is Introduced into the Global Marketplace

    Cap and Trade System is Introduced into the Global Marketplace
    Cap and Trade System originated in the European Union but quickly gained attraction in the United States for its effectivity and efficiency in the market. The system is a environmental and economic policy that puts a price on emissions produced by companies in order to incentivize reducing the amount of pollution released into the atmosphere. This is significant because it was the first time an economically viable solution to climate change was implemented at a national level.
  • The Energy Policy Act of 2005

    The Energy Policy Act of 2005
    The Energy Policy Act of 2005 was signed into federal law in order to exempt fracking, is process of fracturing rocks below Earth's surface to access trapped fossil fuel deposits, from EPA regulation. This faces immediate and intense backlash by environmental organizations, and by 2010 numerous anti-fracking organizations arise to fight against this. This is significant because it displays the practice of grassroots organizations fighting against federal policies.
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    Hurricane Katrina

    Hurricane Katrina was a Category 5 hurricane that devastated Louisiana in 2005 and is the costliest cyclone on record. Not only did the Hurricane inflict a large amount of economic and environmental damage, but it also brought attention to the link between the frequency of extreme weather events and global warming. Later, the EPA claimed that climate change may increase the probability of normal weather events to turn extreme.
  • An Inconvenient Truth

    An Inconvenient Truth
    An Inconvenient Truth is a documentary about Al Gore's, an environmental activist and politician, campaign to educate the American public about climate change, and the consequences of it. This was the first time a politician made an environmental issue, much less climate change, the main issue on his political platform. This sent waves through America, as more people began to pay attention to global warming and educate themselves on how to be more environmentally conscience and educated.
  • Oxford Dictionary Adds Environmental Jargon

    Oxford Dictionary Adds Environmental Jargon
    In 2007, Oxford Dictionary added environmental jargon: "carbon footprint", "carbon neutral", and "greenwashing". This is significant because although green jargon was used prior to it being added to the dictionary, it is spreading universal knowledge about global climate change to help grow awareness and solidifying legitimacy of the phenomenon.
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    Keystone XL Pipeline

    The extension of Keystone XL Pipeline was proposed by an energy company in 2008, and ultimately led to a environmental, public health, and civil rights battle for more than 10 years. The pipeline would transport fossil fuels across the American-Canadian border, but the construction of it threaten ecosystems, many of which are on Native American territory. This debate is significant because it highlighted the intersection between environmentalism, environmental (in)justice, and racism.
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    Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

    The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill was an industrial disaster of epic proportions (the effects are still pervasive to this very day). It is the biggest oil spill in history, as well as one of the worst environmental disasters to this day. It garnered international attention to the detrimental effects of human manipulation of natural resources and created global action networks through clean-up crews and wildlife recovery centers, etc.
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    Flint, Michigan Water Crisis

    Starting in 2014, the city of Flint, Michigan switched its water supply from Detroit's system to the Flint River. What followed was a lack of water quality treatment and major health issues for Flint residents that were overlooked and ignored by government officials for years. This is significant because it displays the vital connection between the health of the environment and public health, as well as pervading environmental injustice between the public and the government.
  • The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

    The Great Pacific Garbage Patch
    In August 2015, 30 vessels crossed the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in what was considered the largest ocean expedition at the time. Located in North Pacific Ocean, the garbage vortex is three times the size of France, containing plastic waste and debris entrapped in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre. The mapping of the vortex brought worldwide attention to just how large of an impact humans have on our environment, as well as the consequences of not recycling or using biodegradable products.
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    Donald J Trump is Elected President

    On January 20th, 2016, Donald J. Trump, who is the most anti-environmental president in the history of the United States, is elected president. Because of this, there is little to no progress in the implementation of federal environmental policies and procedures during his term. This is significant because grassroots organizations began to step up and take more accountability and action in place of the government, which exhibited how democracy plays an important role in environmental activism.
  • The Paris Agreement

    The Paris Agreement
    195 countries signed the Paris Agreement in a collective effort to avoid the detrimental effects of climate change by limiting a countries greenhouse gas emissions. Similar to the Kyoto Protocol, this was a significant acknowledgement of climate change, as well as a unifying and strengthening legislative action.
  • Fourth National Climate Assessment foreshadows Economic Effects of Climate Change

    On November 23rd, 2018, the Fourth National Climate Assessment, a federal report by a variety of scientific organizations (NASA, EPA, NOAA, etc) claims that climate change will end up costing the U.S. economy billions of dollars by the end of the 21st century. This is significant because it highlights the fundamental and complex connection between the environment and economics, as well as challenged those who believe that environmental action stagnates the economy.
  • Renewable Generation Surpasses Coal

    Renewable Generation Surpasses Coal
    In June 2019, the US Energy Information Agency reports that renewable generation (solar, wind, hydro) surpasses coal generation for the first ever. This is significant because coal has been the main generator for energy since the Industrial Revolution, and it also sets precedent for the coming centuries that renewables will continue to rise in popularity.
  • Green New Deal

    Green New Deal
    On February 7th, 2019, the Green New Deal is introduced into Congress by Representative Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Edward Markey, which addressed the current environmental crisis and steps towards 100% renewable energy. Although it did not succeed in Congress, it sparked a necessary conversation for changes in environmental policy that need to take place post-Trump presidency.
  • Wildfires Ignite California

    Wildfires Ignite California
    In 2020, wildfires set ablaze the state of California, causing a large amount of environmental and economic destruction. Similar to Hurricane Katrina, this brought attention towards the increasingly undeniable link between severe, catastrophic weather events and global climate change.