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Where Did Environmentalism Come From?

By Jalelah Ahmed
November 9, 2012; 6:22 AM ET
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This week we celebrate AccuWeather's 50th Anniversary. For the past 50 years, under the leadership of Dr. Joel Myers, we have remained committed to saving lives by delivering the most accurate weather forecasts to hundreds of millions throughout the world. In celebration of our milestone, Earth Matters pays tribute by examining the history of the environmentalist movement.

The modern day environmentalist movement was born in 1969 in Santa Barbara, Calif., after an oil blowout spewed crude oil into the Santa Barbara Channel. That same year the Cuyahoga River, at the time considered one of the most polluted waterways in the country, caught on fire (again) from the amount of debris and chemicals in the water. The attention added to the movement for cleaner water.

Shortly after the spill, President Richard Nixon took immediate action. In 1970 he founded the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and in the following years signed into effect several landmark laws including, The Clean Air Act, The Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act.

These acts all laid the ground rules for how pollution should be regulated in the air and waterways, and for the conservation of animal species that were being impacted by human actions and development. By following the guidelines set by the Clean Water Act, the Cuyahoga River has had at least 62 species of fish return to it and is now consider healthy enough for people to fish the waterway.

While President Nixon's political career ended shamefully, his acknowledgement of the environment at the federal level helped citizens recognize their own roles in keeping it healthy. In 1970 Rose Rowan, an environmentalist, came up with the idea of towing a recycling trailer behind a dump truck to collect glass, newspaper, aluminum and plastic, giving birth to the modern recycling initiatives many of us value today.

Jalelah Ahmed has more.


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