American Environmental History

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Coal first mined in Richmond

1750

Bituminous coal discovered in WV

1820

used to heat furnaces for steelmaking; facilitated building efforts; raised transportation efficiency and safety; advantageous to Union in the Civil War

Canals built to carry coal; PA to east coast

1831

Flushing toilets in homes

1850

Invented in 1775, but took a long tie to be used. Latrobe in early 1800s designed and built American's first urban water supply system

Snow cures London of cholera

1854

Snow, founder of epidemiology, mapped out cholera outbreaks in London's SoHo region. He discovered which well pump handle was transmitting the cholera, and broke the handle off.

Safety Elevator invented

1854

As population in cities grew, buildings became skyscrapers. Invented by Elijah Otis.

Alaska was puchased

1867

Secretary of State William Seward bought Alaska from the Russian government for $7.2 million. Land of extremes; northern section is permafrost, half treeless, very short growing season.

western coal production starts

1867

William Jackson Palmer traveled to southern Colorado and northern New Mexico and began western production.

Refrigerated trains in operation

1867

Before this time, ice was harvested from frozen river and stored inside ice house. used to cool food. refrigerated trains allow access to fruits and vegetables throughout the year. improves food supply.

ASPCA founded

1867

Henry Bergh founded American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. lobbied for state and federal legislation to prohibit animal cruelty. Shortly thereafter, he created society for preventing cruelty to children.

1872 horse epidemic

1872

As cities grew, depended more on horses and created manure problem. in Philadelphia, an epidemic killed horses.

Poughkeepsie drinking water

1872

first city to filter its drinking water. slow introduction of main drainage and safe droning water supplies.

Waring sent to clean up Memphis

1878

Waring becomes the first sanitary-engineer hero. helped save Memphis from yellow fever and cholera through innovative drainage design. transformation of sanitation

Louis Pasteru's germ theory

1880

advanced germ theory of diseases and replaced commmon-held "miasma" theory.

Plate glass invented

1888

This invention, along with steel girders, changed the way we build. Began age of skyscrapers.

United Mine Workers founded

1890

most violent union in the nation; created by labor unrest from dangerous conditions of mining

Spread of electric streetcars bikes, and motor vehicles

1890

facilitated development of suburbs, improved public health and safety. League of Americna Wheelmen campaigned for better roads.

Harrison's Forest Reserve Act

1891

withdrew 13 million acres from public domain for "forest reserves" despite states' opposition. attempt to reforest depleted areas

Sierra Club founded in 1892

1892

Founded by Muir, who was the first advocate of wilderness preservation. campaigned for Yosemite to be made a national park.

Pinchot publishes findings

1893

Discovered that selecting mature trees facilitated growth of younger ones. Published findings in World's Fair in chicago. he studied forestry in germany. Member of the elite, had access to president

National Forest Commission

1896

Pinchot urged extension of the forest reserves.

Yukon gold rush of 1897

1897

discovery of gold aided Alaska's prospects. All access routes through Canada, along the Yukon, and from Skagway were hazardous. Jack London's Call of the Wild a testament to the gold rush.

Forest Management Act of 1897

1897

Pinchot-conservationist for the sake of utility. Muir was a preservationist. Up until then they had agreed on everything.

PInchot and Forestry Division

1898

Pinchot appointed to Forestry Divsiion of the US Government

Schenk first forestry school

1898

German autocrat took over Biltmore, and founded first forestry school. used accurate mapping and photography.

US Forest Service

1905

Pinchot transforms Forestry Division to US Forest Service. Used bureacracy to bring all forest reserves into new Service. Fundded by Loggers' licensing fees. economy and utility.

"The Jungle" is published

1906

publicized the horrible details fo the meat business. prompted TR to support passage of Pure Food and Drug Act (his sausages). animals slaughtered within Chicago allowed for severe public health and workers' safety issues.

San Francisco Fire

1906

Earthquake and subsequent fire hit San Francisco. As a result of the quake and fires, about 3,000 people died and over 80% of San Francisco was destroyed.
Didn't have enough water to put out fires, sparking hetch hetch-y damn controversy.

Conservation conference

1908

Pinhot and Muir sparred over policy priorities.

Hetch Hetchy Dam Approved

1908

Need for high pressure water system. Muir argued no dams because it's on federalproperty. TR and PInchot saw the need to protect San Fran. Muir was defeated. Interior Department approved the City's request -- 86% of San Francisco voters approve the project and $600,000 to purchase the "lands, rights, and claims" of Hetchy Hetchy

Ludlow Massacre

1914

18 striking miners killed and miners retaliated by shooting company property and burning company town of Forbes

Beginnings of ecology

1916

Frederic Clements introduced idea of plant communities

Battle of Blair Mountain

1921

325 murder charges against West Virginia miners

Federal road building projects began

1921

Freon invented

1928

Thomas Midgley Jr. invented chemicaly stable, non-flammable CFC. fed into issue of ozone layer depletion

Bob Marshal explores Alaska

1928

Bob Marshal explored the Brooks range by aircraft and dog sled team in the 1920s and early 1930s

Coal industry taken over by large corporations

1930

"company towns" set up in mining areas allowed companies to control virtually every part of miners' lives; desire to harvest every piece of coal created cave-in threat. chokedamp, afterdamp, and fire damp threatened miners

Agricultural Adjustment Act

1933

designed to keep farmers on the land, restrict output, and raise prices for farm goods. paid farmers to not plant certain crops. tried to reduce farm foreclosures. favored large-scale farms.

Introduction of "ecosystems"

1935

Arthur Tansley introduces this idea. including both biological and physical and chemical components.

Introduction of "food web"

1935

Lindeman introduced coneept of food web and raced energy transfers in ecosystems using economic metaphors.

Atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

1945

Road to Survival and Our Plundered Planet published

1948

foresaw famine and catastrophe due oto overpuopulation; after WWII speculation that population increases were threatening future of the world; linked to soil depletion and agricultural decline

Center pivot irrigation invented

1948

doesn't require costly land-leveling. water used from aquifers. depleted over time.

Leopold argues for land ethic

1949

ethical system that included land, plants, animals, and people

Expansion of American cities and suburbs

1950

post WWII era showed radical expansion of cities and suburbs. Depression and war years forestalled building. mass home-ownership facilitated by GI Bill. William Levitt learned how to mass produce housing. federally subsidized road building and car ownership helped. Civil Rights movement stimulated "white flight"

Nature Conservancy ounded

1951

bought threatened land of special beauty or significance as habitat for endangered species

Cuyahoga River caught fire

1952

and in 1969. beaches of lake erie were closed due to industrial sledge.

Eisenhower's "Atoms for peace" speech

1953

called for regulation of nuclear power; Atomic Energy Commission followed suit.

Keeling begins measuring atmospheric carbon

1956

in Mauna Loa, established his weather station. observed rising levels of CO2 even in period of global cooling in the 70s (Stephen Schneider). Ice core sampling enabled paleo-climatologists to trace connection between CO2 and global warm periods.

Interstate highway system created

1956

Eisenhower administration created highways with legislation of 1956.

Price-Anderson Act of 1957

1957

AEC and JCAE had to encourage doubtful utility companies to use nuclear power. GE and Westinghouse offered "turnkey" contracts in the early 1960s. Early concerns about thermal pollution and difficulties in construction. disposal of used fuel rods and faulty workmanship led to "whistleblowers" abandoning the field in mid 70s.

Alaska achieves statehood

1959

along with Hawaii. environmental objections helped prevent two major development projects: The rampart dam of the Yukon and Project Chariot (harbor created with five controlled nuclear explosions)

Contraceptive pills created and perfected

1960

reliable separation of sex from procreation; John Rock perfected contraception. fueled feminist movement and the "sexual revolution" that encouraged a transformed approach to sexuality. birth rates fell sharply as a result.

Silent Spring published

1962

drew widespread attention to environmental degradation. criticized indiscriminate use of herbicides and pesticides. targeted DDT. favored more systematic approach to eradication of malarial mosquitoes.

Free Speech Movement at Berkeley

1964

demonstration on behalf of the civil rights movement, against the war in Vietnam, for women's liberation and for gay liberation

Unsafe at any Speed published

1965

Ralph Nader begins concept of consumer advocacy through his book against GM

Science and Survival published

1967

deplored misuse of science by corporations and national defense institutions and their secrecy.

Discovery of oil in Alaska

1968

second rush to Alaska. first oil crisis (1973) made tapping of oil reserves especially attractive. shipping route for oil, the trans-Alaska pipeline. faced acute environmental criticism.

The Population Bomb published

1968

published by Paul Ehrlich; overpopulation alarms culminated with this book; coincided with papal encyclical letter Humanae Vitae (rejected the majority report on the subject, embracing a minority report maintaining the status quo)

Photographs of Earth from space

1968

emphasized solitude and fragility of world; fueled environmentalist movement which was blend of radical and conservative impulses: anti-materialist, critical of corporate America, distrust of government, less divisive because applies to all

"Tragedy of the Commons" written

1968

written by Garret Hardin. argued that we are subject to perverse and self-destructive actions in the environment.

EPA created

1970

created by Congress and began work on 1/1/1971

First Earth Day

1970

first major event of environmentalist movement; organized by Gaylord Nelson and Dennis Hayes. most Americans regarded it as a harmonious and sensible event. Nixon spoke out for environmental legislation in his state of the union the same year.

Criticism of environmentalism

1970

began on political left but migrated to the right. Students for a Democratic Society, Black Panthers, and Democratic Socialists all criticized the movement on Earth Day (thought of it as a distraction from more important issues of poverty racism and war) Goldwater (senator) feared centralization as brake on material development; Sagebrush rebels saw it as government tyranny

Watergate Scandal

1972

Buffalo Creek flood

1972

wiped out an entire town in West Virginia

Ban on DDT

1972

Environmental Defense Fund specialized in environmental litigation and led campaign to ban DDT

Rowland and Molina show that CFCs break down ozone

1973

free chlorine atoms reacted with ozone to break it down. the period of 80s and 90s was of abstract and less visible environmental concerns.

Surface Mining and Reclamation Act of 1977

1977

prohibited further permitting for companies with outstanding environmental violations to strip mine. land rights, negotiated decades earlier, didn't hold companies responsible for damage done. limited effectiveness

UMW strike

1977 - 1978

impeded President Carters attempts to replace imported oil with domestic coal

Three Mile Island

1979

Despite whistleblowers alarming public in mid and late 70s, didn't prevent disaster of Three Mile Island. Destroyed mystique of safe, cheap, nuclear power.

Risk and Culture published

1982

showed how different societies regarded different kinds of risks as acceptable or intolerable.

Nirenberg Committee

1984

argued that acid rain was serious and dangerous. deaths of red spruce trees, fish kills, and high acidity levels in mountain lakes.

Takings is published

1985

written by Richard Epstein, explored the legal and equity consequences of environmental legislation. western antagonism to environmentalists was linked to perception that they were destroying employment opportunities in forestry and mining.

Chernobyl

1986

Julian Simon vs. Ehrlich

1987

simon argued the counter-instinctual position that natural resources were becoming more plentiful, not more scarce.described population as the "ultimate resource" and celebrated its growth.

Montreal Protocol

1987

specified phasing out of CFCs worldwide, which led to diminution of problem. replaced by HFCs. successful international cooperation because companies making CFCs could switch easily to making HFCs

global warming hypoth comes before congress

1988

James Hansen asserted global warming hypothesis before Congress. accurate measurement over the whole earth's surface is extremely difficult as is seasonal variation and "noise". computer programs gained sophistication.

Exxon Valdez wreck

1989

Created one of the worst pollution crises in american history. massive clean up may have caused more harm than good

National Acid Precipitation Assessment Program

1990

concluded that was real but minor problem. most acidified lakes were in Florida which was not downwind of any industry. importance of local factors. but Congress had instituted cap and trade program to reduce emissions in 1990 revisions to the Clean Air Act.

Kyoto Protocol

1997

world's industrial nations signed the kyoto protocol; pledged a reduction in greenhouse gases. Gore became outspoken maximalist. skeptics include Fred Singer, Richard Lindzen and Bjorn Lomborg.

TVA's kingston fossil plant

2008

released 1.1 billion gallons of fly ash which damaged homes and flowed into waterways.

Presidencies

See how events correlate with each president

Grover Cleveland

1885 - 1889

Harrison's presidency

1889 - 1893

Grover Cleveland

1893 - 1897

Teddy Roosevelt as President

1901 - 1909

Huge help to the cause of forest conservation. Before presidency, was a Dakota rancher. created five new National Parks and the Antiquities Act after touring Yosemite with Muir.

Herbert Hoover

1928 - 1932

nations hero for philanthropic work during and after WWI, but as president, blamed for the Great Depression

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

1933 - 1945

Wars and Movements

See context of various events

Farmers' Golden Age

1913 - 1920

WWI and 1920s stimulated food production and plow-up of Plains. Feeding Europe and America in times of abundant rainfall.

World War I

1914 - 1918

Largest conflict to happen in the world. US joined allied forces in 1917.

The Dust Bowl

1933 - 1936

Soil dried, pulverized into dust so that wind blew dust everywhere. in the western Great Plains, in part a natural disaster and in part human induced. massive dust storms that forced people to migrate to other parts of US. Journalists and New Deal photographers charted migration of farmers.

The New Deal

1933 - 1936

series of economic programs in response to Great Depression. Focused on 3 Rs: That is, Relief for the unemployed and poor; Recovery of the economy to normal levels; and Reform of the financial system to prevent a repeat depression

World War II

1939 - 1945

In the US, new era of rainfall and demand, boosted the economy.