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Environmental History

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Presentation on theme: "Environmental History"— Presentation transcript:

1 Environmental History
AP Environmental Science

2 Ancient Civilizations
Air pollution was common in large towns long before the industrial revolution. The pollution came from dust, wood smoke, tanneries, animal manure and other things. Water pollution was less severe in some civilizations. Israeli and Hindu cities tended to have less water pollution due to strict religious codes about cleanliness. On the other hand, ancient Rome was notorious for sewage-filled streets. Timbering stripped the forests of Babylon, Greece, Phonecia (Lebanon) and Italy with the rise of civilization. The wood energy crisis led Greeks to use passive solar energy by orienting their cities and houses toward the sun. Romans made some use of solar energy but imported wood for timber and fuel from as far away as the Black Sea. Both Greeks and Romans kept sacred groves of trees from being timbered.

3 Ancient Civilizations
Soil conservation was not widely practiced in the Mediterranian, but cultures in China, India and Peru understood the long term impact of soil erosion and tried to prevent it. Lead poisoning was common among upper class Romans who used lead-sweetened wine and grape pulp sweetened with "sugar of lead" as a condiment.

4 Midde Ages and Renaissance
Plague devastates Europe but leads to the beginnings of a public health system. Water pollution tends to be less of a problem for dispersed populations than it would later become. Timbering in the forests of England, France, Germany leaves large tracts totally denuded by around 1550 in England and the 1600s in Europe, forcing a switch to coal.

5 Midde Ages and Renaissance
Soil conservation was not widely practiced in the Mediterranian, but cultures in China, India and Peru understood the long term impact of soil erosion and used terracing, crop rotation and natural fertilizer to prevent it. Occupational diseases are investigated by Bernardo Razzimazi and begin to be recognized as public health problems.

6 Enlightenment Reason begins to be better appreciated as an antidote to superstition. Ben Franklin's fight against water pollution, James Lind's fight against scurvy, the movement to clean up slums and prisons begins with an enlightenment philosophy that holds individual citizens to be valuable. There were, as Rumford said, "other kinds of glory than that of victory in battle." Thomas Malthus predicts that eventually, food and resources will run out as populations explode. .

7 Enlightenment New technologies create new pollution, -- Town gas from coal drips tar into the rivers. Vulcanized rubber plants discharge noxious chemicals directly into the streams. Coal smoke chokes the air in big cities. Chemical factories operate without thought to people downwind.

8 Industrial Revolution
Living conditions in urban areas horrify reform minded commissions in London in the 1840s and America in the 1850s and 60s. Progress is slow but the common interest in pure drinking water and sanitation is spurred by epidemics of typhoid and cholera. Water pollution carried disease, but no one knew exactly why until the 1880s. Some concerned reformers didn't wait for exact knowledge: John Snow, a London physician, traced a part of the cholera epidemic to a contaminated water pump in 1855.

9 Industrial Revolution
Smog episodes begin killing residents of large cities like London. Conservation of wilderness areas begins with the felling of an enormous tree, called the "Mother of the Forest" in The outrage over the act leads to calls for a national park system.

10 Progressive Era Reform was the common concern. Reform of working conditions, slum housing, food adulteration, sanitation, drinking water, polluting industries and more. Teddy Roosevelt and his forester Gifford Pinchot characterized the era with ideas about conserving large tracts of land and putting other forests to "wise use." John Muir opposes the "wise use" idea and fights for outright preservation of unspoiled wilderness.

11 Progressive Era Social activists and reformers like Ellen Swallow Richards, Jane Addams, Florence Kelly and Alice Hamilton innovate and find limited success. New organizations like the womens clubs and the Sierra Club help champion natural preservation, conservation and municipal reform.

12 1920s and '30s National Coast Anti Pollution League is formed by municipal officials from Atlantic City to Maine who are concerned about oil and sewage pollution detracting from tourism. Led by Gifford Pinchot, Teddy Roosevel'ts forrester, the league succeeds with an international oil dumping treaty passed by Congress in 1924. "Nothing but a murderer" is the way Harvard M.D. Alice Hamilton privately describes Charles Kettering of General Motors, the inventive genius behind leaded gasoline. Hamilton's fight to point out alternatives does not succeed and leaded gasoline becomes the standard fuel for most of the world.

13 1920s and '30s The Radium Girls are dying of radiation induced cancer and court delays seem outrageous to crusading journalist Walter Lippmann who works with Alice Hamilton to bring their case to the public. A settlement at least gives them medical care and compensation for their families. Civilian Conservation Corps is founded by FDR during the depression. Chemurgy movement is a Midwestern populist and scientific phenomena. Demands include replacement of petroleum with farm alcohol and other industrial uses for agricultural crops. Movement suffers when leaders die and new leaders with secret ties to the oil industry take over.

14 1940s and '50s A full marriage designed to outlast the war. This was the relationship between American auto, chemical and oil companies and Germany's I.G. Farben exposed by Sen. Harry Truman in American development of synthetic rubber was blocked and leaded gasoline technology was handed over to the Nazis during the pre-war honeymoon. (Stephenson, 1976). The lesson of history? Only the government can secure the long-term public interest. Private industry can not. Midwestern corn, not oil industry sythetics, helped roll allies to victory over the Nazis. Synthetic rubber and chemicals from renewable resources proved vital to winning WWII. (Bernton, 1982)

15 1940s and '50s Sand County Almanac by forrester Aldo Leopold, published in 1948 just after his death, expresses the an expanding sense of human responsibility, not only for each other but also for the earth. . Deadly smog episodesin Donora Penn. (1948), London (1952, 1956), New York (1953), and Los Angeles (1954) create the perception that an air pollution crisis is underway. In 1955 the first international air pollution conference is held. Increasing C02 buildup is one surprising conclusion of Scripps Oceanographic Institute scientists working on International Geophysical Year projects 1957.

16 1960s s Rachel Carson's book Silent Spring strikes a deep chord in the rapidly growing concern about the environment when published in 1962. General Motors and Standard Oil (Exxon) sell off the Ethyl Corp., the child of their partnership in leaded gasoline, in 1962.

17 1960s s The truth about leaded gasoline emerges dramatically in1965 Senate hearings as scientist Clair Patterson testifies about the obvious and apparently deliberate lacunae and falsehoods in lead industry research. A burning river ends the decade as a dramatic symbol of an environment on the brink. On June 22, 1969, oil and chemicals in the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, Ohio catch fire. Flames top five stories.

18 A decade of awakening and cleanup begins with the birth of the Environmental Protection Agency and ends with the Appropriate Community Technology demonstration on the Washington mall. Air pollution is cut back dramatically through use of catalytic converters on new cars that use only unleaded gasoline. But the predicted "pollution free car" proves to be chimerical. Water pollution is greatly decreased through a massive sewage treatment expansion program. Rivers which were once sewers now begin a gradual return from the grave. Still, the "national pollution discharge elimination system" does not actually eliminate discharges.

19 Toxic chemicals become more troubling. Corporations like Allied (manufacturer of Kepone) seem to have deliberately endangered employees and the public for minor increments of profit. Love Canal and other incidents lead to new regulations in the 1980s. Nuclear power safety is increasingly suspect after the Three Mile Island accident. Enery crisis in oil supply leads to reversals of some restrictions on refinery and oil pollution.

20 Disasters show the tenuous and fragile side of industrial technology. Among them are the Bhopal mass poisoning in India; the Chernobyl nuclear reactor disaster in Ukraine; and the Challenger shuttle and Exxon Valdez oil spills in the U.S. Ozone depletion from fluorocarbons is finally taken seriously, even by conservatives like Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher of Britain, who join others in signing the Montreal Protocol in 1987.

21 More good news: Legislation for cleaning up toxic waste passes Congress. But by the year 2002, the Superfund will be broke. Environmentalists gather momentum but mourn the loss of the Rainbow Warrior, a Greenpeace ship bombed in New Zealand in 1985. Warnings about global climate change become more convincing as evidence mounts.

22 Persian Gulf War creates environmental disaster with thousands of burning oil wells. Ken Sara-Wiwa, journalists and environmentalist, is executed in 1995 for his outspoken opposition to oil industry practices in Nigeria. The dictatorial government of Nigeria, and its partner Shell Oil, is held responsible by the international community.

23 Political standoff between conservative and liberal factions in Congress ended more or less in a draw, with strong national opinion polls favoring environment over economic development. A Gallup poll finds 76 percent of Americans call themselves "environmentalists." China's Three Gorges Dam continues on schedule, despite international protests. MTBE may fight air pollution, but water pollution turns out to be the major side effect of the fuel additive. It's another example of the law of unintended consequences.

24 2000 to the Present Retiring president Bill Clinton sets aside 58 million acres of forest and wilderness by the end of his presidency, beating the previous conservation record set in Teddy Roosevelt's administration. George Bush's presidency begins with strong support for traditional energy options -- oil, gas, coal and nuclear. Even the idea of conservation is initially dismissed. Public pressure forces changes.

25 2000 to the Present Global climate change report by the UN and the National Academy of Sciences firmly establishes scientific basis for concern. Eventually, even the Bush administration admits climate change is happening but shows disdain for international treaties to reduce climate changing emissions. Utility deregulation leads to severe price spikes, consumer resentment and a rethinking of electric utility deregulation. Meanwhile, the company at the center of deregulation, Enron, goes bankrupt and pulls half of Wall Street down with it.

26 2000 to the Present Poisoning from leaded gasoline is acknowledged as severe in developing nations by the World Bank and the World Health Organization and a gradual switch to other additives finally gets underway.

27 2004 Mr. Wood Begins to teach Environmental Science, and the World’s problems are solved This timeline is found at:

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