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By Fast Company Staff | 04-26-2010 | 6:25 PM
The 1960s proved to be the origins of the Green Movement, from Rachel Carson's Silent Spring to Ralph Naders Unsafe At Any Speed. Many of today’s auto pollution and safety features, including emission reductions, catalytic converters, seat belts, and air bags are a direct result of Nader's work. The 70s can be seem as a response to scientific studies and environmental disasters including the establishing of the EPA by Nixon, signing of the Clean Air Act and the Inaugural Earth Day.
Written in response to a question about bird deaths, Silent Spring was the first breakthrough environmental book to appear on The New York Times best seller list. Carson argued that pesticide spraying was harmful to wildlife as well as humans, and subsequent studies ultimately led to a ban on DDT in the United States in 1972
The Clean Air Act empowered the EPA to develop and enforce regulations aimed at controlling air pollution. The Act also included provisions for citizen suits, allowing private citizens to sue other citizens, corporations as well as government bodies for infractions under the Clean Air Act.
GE ceases the dumping of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCBs) in 1977 after the State Government banned fishing in the Upper Hudson due to health risks. In 1983 the EPA declared a stretch of river from Hudson Falls to New York City, to be a Superfund site requiring cleanup.
The decade started with Volkswagen testing solar-powered vehicles, and U.S. congress enacting laws for the safe disposal of nuclear waste. And ends with a slue of environmental disasters including Chernobyl (1986) and the Exxon Valdez (1989).
Registering a Level 7 on the International Nuclear Event Scale, the Chernobyl disaster is considered the worst nuclear power plant accident in history even though it caused less than 60 direct deaths. 336,000 people had to be resettled, as 60% of the nuclear fallout landed in Belarus. The World Health Organization estimates 600,000 people were highly exposed to radiation.
Traveling outside normal shipping lanes in an attempt to avoid ice the Exxon Valdez, en route from Valdez, Alaska to Los Angeles, California, ran aground on Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound, Alaska spilling 10.9 million gallons of its 53 million gallon cargo. The cleanup lasted over 3 years and cost Exxon over $2.2 billion, plus damages.
1990 ushered in one of the most prosperous decades in American history as the DJIA more than tripled, big business focused on new markets, the “Internet” captivated our attention. American consumers were busy supersizing their fast food, bulk-shopping at Costco and Target, and purchasing SUVs in ever-increasing numbers. The result a "trash" problem.
Within a year of releasing and implementing an environmental policy, Apple phased lead out of their batteries, several years before the 1996 European battery directive.
172 governments participated, with 108 sending their heads of state or government, 50,000 representatives of non-governmental organizations and 17,000 people at the parallel NGO "Global Forum". For 11 Days the consortium addressed issues of production, alternative energy, investments in public transportation and the scarcity of clean water.
25 million pairs of athletic shoes and contributed to more than 250 sport surfaces to provide access to places to play for kids as part of Nike’s global community investment program.
The last half of the 1990s saw a host of governmental interventions attempting to reduce soot, auto emissions, and carbon dioxide, even as trucks and SUVs got larger and larger.
Adam Werbach is an environmental activist who at the age of 23 was elected President of the Sierra Club. Act Now Apologize Later is a collection of essays and anecdotes "from rural priests to animal trackers, from a 12-year-old girl in California to three elderly women in Georgia, from senators to surfers and from Woody Harrelson to llama riders, an incredible array of people give us a thousand reasons to be hopeful."
The Honda Insight became the first hybrid available in North America, beating Toyota's Prius by 7 months. Featuring optimized aerodynamics and a lightweight aluminum structure to maximize fuel efficiency and minimize emissions.
With the beginning of a new decade came new interest in sustainability. As the debate on the likelihood of a climate threshold continued worldwide, we reached a different tipping point in the United States.
SCIENCE publishes NASA survey of over 2,000 shrinking glaciers; the World Meteorological Organization predicts 2001 will be the 2nd warmest year on record. The facts associated to global warming take center stage.
An increased demand for organic products, was met with a need for third-party, verified certification. "Organic" has become an increasingly valuable marketing tool, therefore the certification process involved is highly scrutinized.
"Green" becomes a consumer marketing push for the likes of Vanity Fair and NBC's Green Week. Yet the period between 2004-2006 was marked with events beyond human control including the Indian Ocean Tsunami and Hurricane Katrina.
Shellenberger and Nordhaus argue that environmentalism as a concept is incapable of dealing with climate change and should "die" so that a new politics can be born. After much debate, they followed up with a more positive essay, "Break Through: From the Death of Environmentalism to the Politics of Possibility."
You should know the story by now. The Facts: Directed by Davis Guggenheim, following Al Gore's campaign on global warming. Earned $49 million in box office receipts (5th highest grossing documentary) and won 2 Academy Awards (Best Documentary Feature and Original Song).
And the world's population crosses 6.5 billion.
Although today's news is focused on the BP Oil crisis, several notable milestones have been reached in the last 3 years, including Governmental actions and Corporate investments, from the EU's promise to cut Carbon Dioxide emissions, to President Obama's campaign to renew environmental reform, to big box retailer Walmart creating a new sustainable labeling system.
Campaigning Policy on New Energy: America can be the 21st century clean energy leader by harnessing the power of alternative and renewable energy, ending our addiction to foreign oil, addressing the global climate crisis, and creating millions of new jobs that can’t be shipped overseas.
Perhaps the greenest thing to ever happen to retail, Walmart announces plan to launch a Sustainability Index on all products sold in their stores.