Environmental history defines past events, and documents the activities of individuals which illustrated the importance of protecting the environment from both natural and anthropogenic influences. In fact, concerns for the environment date back to as early as Roman times. In terms of more recent environmental movements, these can be traced to the 1960s, which is when environmental groups began to form.
Often, major environmental concerns will arise when harmful consequences of particular actions become apparent and this in many instances will lead to the development of specific legislation being formulated. For example, the Great Smog event which took place in England in 1952 led to the formulation of the Clean Air Act in 1956, which aimed to reduce air pollution. This document proposed various methods for reducing air pollution such as by shifting the sources of energy used to heat homes and to locate power stations away from the city center. The Great smog event can be remembered as a period of very cold weather, combined with severe air-pollution causing a thick layer of smog to form over the city of London, England.
Another famous environmental movement is that which can from the book “Silent Spring”, written by Rachel Carson in 1962. The book “Silent Spring” discussed the harmful effects of DDT, a pesticide and led to the banning of this pesticide later on. The wide spread use of DDT resulted in a multitude of environmental consequences, one being a decreased birth rate in birds because DDT led to the thinning of egg shells. Furthermore, DDT is a substance of low biodegradability and therefore, accumulates as it travels up the food chain, posing negative impacts for multiple species.
Evidently, concerns over the state of the environment are not a novel concept. Understanding the planet’s environmental history is important for society to learn how humans are influenced by the environment and also, on how they influence their surrounding environments. Furthermore, environmental history can assist us in comprehending how the world has reached the current circumstance which it is in and provide us with insight on how to prevent past problems from reoccurring.
Title Image Credit: Pixabay. (2014). Environmentalism Ecology Environment Hand Tree. Retrieved from http://pixabay.com/p-224634/