Environment and environmentalism

Environment and environmentalism

Environment

‘Environment‘, as the term itself indicates, is anything immediately surrounding an object and exerting a direct influence on it”.

In our surround there is living and nonliving things which are together form life. Hydrosphere, atmosphere, and geosphere are the component of the environment that surrounds us. Hydrosphere, the wet environment that consists of water, covers most of earth surface.  Sea, rivers, lakes and under surface water are all aquatic environment. Land or what is called geosphere composed of deserts, mountains, hills and level lands. Atmosphere is around the earth and consists of gases such as hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen etc. The interaction of all these make up a liveable surround with unique properties that correlates organisms.  Not all environments suitable to us. Deserts even cold or hot ones do not correlate individuals. However some organisms live in these environments because they have special adaptation to their environment. To us, we the humans, prefer to live in cities where comfortable civilization life. However others don’t prefer that because of the crowed, noise, and pollution that emerge from humans activities. They used to live in villages where more green lands, natural landscapes, and more quiet than cities.

 

Environmentalism

Environmentalism, political and ethical movement that seeks to improve and protect the quality of the natural environment through changes to environmentally harmful human activities; through the adoption of forms of political, economic, and social organization that are thought to be necessary for, or at least conducive to, the benign treatment of the environment by humans; and through a reassessment of humanity’s relationship with nature. In various ways, environmentalism claims that living things other than humans, and the natural environment as a whole, are deserving of consideration in reasoning about the morality of political, economic, and social policies.

Historic Roots 

Environmentalism began as a movement in the 1960s and 1970s. However, humanity’s relationship and dependence on the earth for survival has existed since the beginning of time. Many cultures including Native Americans, Aborigines, Africans and South Americans have understood this interconnection with the natural world. Western cultures had a poor understanding of this relationship as they separated themselves from the land through technology and development. Beginning in the nineteenth century, the Industrial Revolution caused many changes; Western people realized their behavior had a negative impact on the environment (Stradling and Thorsheim 1999). In the growing industrial cities of London, New York and Chicago, coal burning factories polluted the air and water while the need for lumber to build factories and homes caused mass deforestation and subsequent destruction of animal life.

On a relatively small scale, groups of people were concerned about the future of the environment. Scientists studied ecological systems while others formed clubs and initiated protests. These concerned people became known as conservationists, a predecessor to the modern environmentalist. Some of the earliest protests against pollution and for the conservation of natural resources and wildlife happened in the late nineteenth century, (Rome 2003). Earth-friendly groups, such as the Sierra Club established in 1892, inspired President Theodore Roosevelt’s innovative conservation programs (Sierra Club). Unfortunately, two World Wars and the Great Depression overshadowed conservation and environmental issues.

In the years proceeding World War II, America experienced an economic boom. New technologies introduced atomic energy, synthetic materials and chemicals, such as pesticides, which led to advancements in agriculture and consumer products. The booming economy allowed the average family to afford a house, automobile and other amenities at soaring rates. Lands outside of cities were bulldozed for suburban development, new factories emitted more pollution due to the production of more goods and larger numbers of cars discharged additional exhaust; “pollution was the price of economic progress”

As the prosperity of the postwar years continued, the environmental consciousness of Americans awakened regarding the effects of environmental destruction . Scholars and environmentalists believe the beginning of the modern environmental movement can be attributed to the 1962 publication of Silent Spring , a book by Rachel Carson. Carson wrote a stunning cautionary book about pesticides and the consequences to animal and human life. (Environmental Protection Agency; Rome 2003). Other books, such as Paul Ehrlich’s The Population Bomb published in 1968, built momentum for the movement (Pearce 2000). Simultaneously, the increased visibility of air and water pollution, as well as disappearing green space and natural habitats sparked the interests of activists across America.

Apocalyptic environmentalism

The vision of the environmental movement of the 1960s and early ’70s was generally pessimistic, reflecting a pervasive sense of “civilization malaise” and a conviction that Earth’s long-term prospects were bleak. Works such as Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962), Garrett Hardin’s “The Tragedy of the Commons” (1968), Paul Ehrlich’s The Population Bomb (1968), Donella H. Meadows’ The Limits to Growth (1972), and Edward Goldsmith’s Blueprint for Survival (1972) suggested that the planetary ecosystem was reaching the limits of what it could sustain. This so-called apocalyptic, or survivalist, literature encouraged reluctant calls from some environmentalists for increasing the powers of centralized governments over human activities deemed environmentally harmful, a viewpoint expressed most vividly in Robert Heilbroner’s An Inquiry into the Human Prospect (1974), which argued that human survival ultimately required the sacrifice of human freedom. Counterarguments, such as those presented in Julian Simon and Herman Kahn’s The Resourceful Earth (1984), emphasized humanity’s ability to find or to invent substitutes for resources that were scarce and in danger of being exhausted.

Ecofeminism

Oppression, hierarchy, and spiritual relationships with nature also have been central concerns of ecofeminism. Ecofeminists assert that there is a connection between the destruction of nature by humans and the oppression of women by men that arises from political theories and social practices in which both women and nature are treated as objects to be owned or controlled. Ecofeminists aim to establish a central role for women in the pursuit of an environmentally sound and socially just society. They have been divided, however, over how to conceive of the relationship between nature and women, which they hold is more intimate and more “spiritual” than the relationship between nature and men. Whereas cultural ecofeminists argue that the relationship is inherent in women’s reproductive and nurturing roles, social ecofeminists, while acknowledging the relationship’s immediacy, claim that it arises from social and cultural hierarchies that confine women primarily to the private sphere.

 

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