1960 - 1970
1960 -- June 12 -- Responding to safety concerns from unions and the public, a federal court halts construction of the Laguna Beach, Mich. Fermi nuclear power plant 30 miles southwest of Detroit, but US Supreme Court allows it to restart. In 1966, a nearly catastrophic loss of coolant accident forces the plant's permanent closure and shows that critics had reason to be concerned. (See John G. Fuller, We Almost Lost Detroit, Readers Digest Press, 1975).
1960 -- US Congress funds two-year Public Health Service study on air pollution from cars.
1960 -- First Clean Water Act passes US Congress.
1960 -- Jacques Cousteau and Prince Rainier III of Monaco publicly oppose French plan to dump radioactive wastes into the Mediterranean Sea. The French decide not to go ahead.
1960 -- Wallace Stegner writes The Wilderness Letter advocating federal protection of wilderness.
1960 -- Alaka Conservation Society founded to oppose a nuclear landscaping proposal by Edward Teller called Project Chariot (See 1958). Celia Hunter (Jan. 13, 1919 - Dec. 1, 2001), a pilot and founder of Camp Denali in the 1950s, is one of the early environmental advocates opposed to Teller and his atomic projects.
1961 -- Jan. 3 -- Three operators are killed when a small experimental nuclear reactor explodes in Arco, Idaho.
1961 -- International Clean Air Congress held in London.
1961 -- World Wildlife Fund founded by Sir Peter Scott along with Prince Philip of Britain, Prince Bernhardt of The Netherlands, Aristotle Onassis, and then-National Rifle Association president C.R. "Pink" Gutermuth. Simultaneously, Russell Train founds the African Wildlife Leadership Foundation, now called just the African Wildlife Foundation. Merritt Clifton writes: A primary original goal of both WWF and AWF is to promote funding of wildlife conservation internationally by sales of hunting permits, as the National Wildlife Federation had already achieved in the U.S. This, it was hoped, would prevent newly independent former colonies of European nations from following India and Kenya in banning sport hunting (which was not finally accomplished in either India or Kenya until 1977, although attempts began much earlier).
1961 -- US President John. F. Kennedy tells the United Nations: "Every inhabitant of this planet must contemplate the day when this planet may no longer be habitable .. The weapons of war must be abolished before they abolish us."
1961 -- Ohio canceled the deer hunting season due to a scarcity of deer, leading to the adoption nationwide of "buck laws," which promote the hunting of bucks only.
1962 -- Another London smog; 750 die.
1962 -- Amendments to the Food Drug and Cosmetic Act say that drugs need to be effective as well as safe. The U.S. largely avoided the thalidomide birth defects disaster (in Europe) because the FDA did not approve the anti-nausea drug for sale to pregnant women in the U.S.
1962 -- Reacion to Silent Spring by Rachel Carson is immediate and nationwide. Some agronomists ask whether Carson is intending to starve people by banning pesticdes. By 1970 DDT is banned, but other more toxic chemicals are not. Silent Spring is often seen as a turning point in environmental history because it opened a much stronger national dialogue about the relationship between people and nature. However, it was not the beginning of the "environmental movement" per se. See The Story of Silent Spring.
1962 -- General Motors and Standard Oil of New Jersey (Exxon) abandon Ethyl Corp., selling it to Albemarle Paper Co. in $200 million leveraged buyout which the corporations themselves finance. Ethyl is the main manufacturer of leaded gasoline (or, more precisely, tetra-ethyl lead and similar additives). Eight years later, GM will abandon leaded gasoline. There has been speculation about GM's rationale for dumping Ethyl, but until Ethyl's private documents become public, few will know whether GM was motivated by an understanding of the grave public health issues surrounding leaded gasoline.
1962 -- White House Conservation Conference held.
1962—July 22—“Oil Slick is Shroud for Birds” (Washington Post) Oil pollution at sea is a serious issue. Oil tankers at sea, “the dumping of old crankcase oil and the pumping of oily water from bilges” are major causes of the oil pollution. The most widespread cause of death among sea birds is from oil. Insulating air pockets are destroyed which is s a cause of drowning. The seriousness of this issue has been recognized.. Whilte it is illegal to dump oil within 50 miles of a coastline, ships continue to do so.
1962 -- Miami Seaquarium staff including trainer/diver Ric O'Barry evaded the first anti-dolphin capture protest on record to capture Snowball, an albino dolphin who lived for three years at the Seaquarium. O'Barry left the Seaquarium in 1967, after production of the Flipper TV series ended. He became a semi-recluse for a while; became a vegetarian; traveled to India to seek his soul; returned to the U.S. to participate in marine mammal intelligence research; and was called one day to try to save the life of one of the Flipper dolphins, Kathy, who died in his arms from conditions O'Barry diagnosed as consequences of stress and neglect. On Earth Day 1970, O'Barry tried unsuccessfully to free a captive dolphin from the Lerner Marine Laboratory in Bimini. He learned from his failure, and has been freeing captive dolphins, with increasing success, ever since. His work in recent years has been sponsored by WSPA. (M. Clifton, 2007)
ENVIRONMENTAL BOOKS OF THE YEAR 1962
1963 -- Senate Subcommittee on Air and Water Pollution created. US Congress passes Clean Air Act with $95 million for study and cleanup efforts at local, state and federal level. See former Sen. Edmund S. Muskie's article, "The Clean Air Act: A Commitment to Public Health."
1963 -- France, Switzerland, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands agree to protect Rhine River from pollution in Berne Accord.
1963 -- Nuclear Test Ban Treaty between U.S. and U.S.S.R. (Russia) stops above ground tests of nuclear weapons.
1963 -- Oct 9 -- 2,500 die in Vajont resevoir disaster, Dolomite mountains 100 km north of Venice. Around 10:30 p.m., a massive landslide of 270 million cubic meters of rock fell into the hydroelectric reservoir. The dam did not break, but the wave of water over the dam was high enough, and forceful enough, to entirely destroy the towns downstream. The resevoir on the Piave River had been built in 1960. It was emptied several times as large movements of land threatened the dam's integrity, and there are those who believe the disaster could have been averted. The disaster is explained in a geology web site by Dr. David Petley and remembered in this Italian web site. UNESCO has cited the tragedy as one of five major "cautionary tales" of disasters caused by "the failure of engineers and geologists and said: "Proper understanding of the geology of the hillside would have prevented the disaster."
ENVIRONMENTAL BOOKS OF THE YEAR 1963
- Canadian naturalist and author Farley Mowat publishes Never Cry Wolf. Along with A Whale For The Killing (1972) and Sea of Slaughter (1989), Never Cry Wolf is among the most influential books in the history of animal advocacy. (M. Clifton)
- William Allen Swallow, a lifelong humane worker, authors The Quality of Mercy, a "history of the humane movement in the United States," published by the Mary Mitchell Humane Fund.
1964 --Sept. 3-- Congress creates National Wilderness Preservation System "to secure for the American people of present and future generations the benefits of an enduring resource of wilderness." The system initially contained 9.1 million acres of wild lands, but by 2001 there were about 90 million acres of wilderness preserved in the United States. Text of the Act is available from Wilderness System web page. A history is also available from the Wilderness Society.
1964 -- Hazel Henderson organizes Citizens for Clean Air in New York.
ENVIRONMENTAL BOOKS OF THE YEAR 1964
- Farrington Daniels. Direct Use of the Sun's Energy Yale University Press.
"Plans should be made now to develop substitutes for combustion fuels-- coal, oil and gas... Research for new sources of heat and power is long overdue."
February 8 -- In a “Special Message to Congress on Conservation and Restoration of Natural Beauty" US president Lyndon Johnson warns of buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
“This generation has altered the composition of the atmosphere on a global scale through radioactive materials and a steady increase in carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels... Pollution destroys beauty and menaces health. It cuts down on efficiency, reduces property values and raises taxes. The longer we wait to act, the greater the dangers and the larger the problem.” -- US President Lyndon B. Johnson
1965 -- Congress passes Water Quality Act setting standards for states.
1965 -- Sierra Club sues to protect New York's Storm King Mountain from a power project. The case establishes a precedent, allowing the Club standing for a non-economic interest in the case.
1965 -- Weather inversion creates four day air pollution incident in New York City; 80 die.
1965 -- Hearings on leaded gasoline begin in U.S. Senate and include testimony from Robert Kehoe, a scientist working for industry, and Clair Patterson, a UCLA scientist who exposed Kehoe¹s fraudulent industry research. Patterson's study "Contaminated and Natural Lead Environments of Man" offers first hard proof that high lead levels in industrial nations are man-made and endemic. Patterson told the committee:
"It is not just a mistake for public health agencies to cooperate and collaborate with industries in investigating and deciding whether public health is endangered – it is a direct abrogation and violation of the duties and responsibilities of those public health organizations."
1965 -- Congress passes Water Quality Act, Noise Control Act and Solid Waste Disposal Act.
1965 - November - Environmental Pollution Panel of the President's Science Advisory Committee issues a report "Restoring the Quality of Our Environment" that includes a warning about increasing CO2 in the atmosphere.
1965 -- US Public Health Serivce publishes report "Protecting the Health of Eighty Million Americans" stating that old problems of worker safety and health were not solved and new technological challenges were complex. The report leads to a reorganization of the PHS and the establishment of OSHA in 1970.
December 27 -- Nine die as Britain’s first effort at offshore oil drilling ends in disaster with the collapse of the Sea Gem platform.
December 29 -- Federal court rejects a license for Consolidated Edison electric utility to build a pumped storage facility at Storm King Mountain north of the city due to environmental impacts. Some consider the case “the birth of environmental law.”
ENVIRONMENTAL BOOKS OF THE YEAR 1965
- Ralph Nader, Unsafe at Any Speed a book highly criticial of the automotive industry.
- Rachel Carson, The Sense of Wonder, Harper & Row (posthumous)
1966 -- June-- Sierra Club publishes appeals in the New York Times and Washington Post to stop building a dam that would flood the Grand Canyon. The following day (perhaps coincidentally?), the IRS notifies the Sierra Club that it has suspended its tax-exempt status. The ad said simply, "This time it's the Grand Canyon they want to flood. The Grand Canyon."
1966 -- Barry Commoner establishes Center for the Biology of Natural Systems.
1966-74 -- French begin nuclear testing at Moruroa in the South Pacific, French Polynesia
1966 -- Oct 5 -- Fermi No. 1 fast metal breeder nuclear reactor in Detroit, Michigan loses coolant and partially melts down. (See John G. Fuller, We Almost Lost Detroit, Readers Digest Press, 1975).
1966 -- Life magazine expose of conditions at facilities that sold impounded dogs and cats to research produces public outrage and leads to the passage of the Laboratory Animal Welfare Act, expanded into the present Animal Welfare Act in 1971. (M. Clifton)
ENVIRONMENTAL BOOKS OF THE YEAR 1966
- William Niering, The Life of the Marsh.
1967 -- January -- Outer Space Treaty is signed to prohibit placement of nuclear weapons in orbit around Earth
1967 -- February -- Treaty of Tlatelolco signed prohibiting nuclear weapons in the Caribbean or Latin America
1967 -- Environmental Defense Fund established.
1967 -- Congress passes Air Quality Act / Clean Air Act which authorizes planning grants to state air pollution control agencies.
1967 -- March 18 -- Torrey Canyon oil tanker crashes off the coast of England resulting in a spill of over 29 million gallons of oil devastating the coastlines of England and France.
1967 -- Greenpeace is founded as the Don't Make A Wave Committee, a Quaker peace group, which becomes Greenpeace in 1971 after several years of disrupting nuclear tests in the South Pacific.
1967 -- Cleveland Amory and Marian Probst founded The Fund For Animals, out of frustration with the failure of the Humane Society of the U.S. and other leading humane groups to oppose sport hunting. By the early 1980s they all opposed sport hunting. (M. Clifton, 2007)
1967 -- Lynn White's essay "Historical roots of our ecological crisis," appears in Science magazine (155: 1203-1207).
The greatest spiritual revolutionary in Western history, Saint Francis, proposed what he thought was an alternative Christian view of nature and man's relation to it; he tried to substitute the idea of the equality of all creatures, including man, for the idea of man's limitless rule of creation. He failed. Both our present science and our present technology are so tinctured with orthodox Christian arrogance toward nature that no solution for our ecologic crisis can be expected from them alone. Since the roots of our trouble are so largely religious, the remedy must also be essentially religious, whether we call it that or not. We must rethink and refeel our nature and destiny. The profoundly religious, but heretical, sense of the primitive Franciscans for the spiritual autonomy of all parts of nature may point a direction. I propose Francis as a patron saint for ecologists.
1968, Jan 1. -- Redwood National Park established in California.
1968 -- Congress passes Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and National Trails System Act.
1968 -- David Brower leads effort to save Grand Canyon from dams proposed by the Bureau of Land Management.
1968 -- United Nations Biosphere Conference encourages the idea of a larger general UN conference on the environment, scheduled for Stockholm in 1972.
February 11 -- Scientists at Antarctica’s Byrd Research Station drill the first ice core through 7,000 feet of ice in order to study historical temperature and atmospheric changes.
1968 -- March 18 -- Robert F. Kennedy speaks at the University of Kansas:
"Too much and too long, we seem to have surrendered community excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our gross national product ... if we should judge America by that -- counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for those who break them. It counts the destruction of our redwoods and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and the cost of a nuclear warhead, and armored cars for police who fight riots in our streets. It counts Whitman's rifle and Speck's knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.
"Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages; the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it tells us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans."
1968, April 4 -- Martin Luther King assassinated supporting Memphis TN sanitation workers strike. for environmental and economic justice.
1968, June 6 -- Robert F. Kennedy assassinated.
1968 -- Garrett Hardin publishes his article Tragedy of the Commons in Science, 162(1968):1243-1248.
"Every new enclosure of the commons involves the infringement of somebody's personal liberty. Infringements made in the distant past are accepted because no contemporary complains of a loss. It is the newly proposed infringements that we vigorously oppose; cries of "rights" and "freedom" fill the air. But what does "freedom" mean? When men mutually agreed to pass laws against robbing, mankind became more free, not less so. Individuals locked into the logic of the commons are free only to bring on universal ruin; once they see the necessity of mutual coercion, they become free to pursue other goals. I believe it was Hegel who said, "Freedom is the recognition of necessity."
More information: The Garrett Hardin Society
1968 -- Friends of the Sea Otter founded.
ENVIRONMENTAL BOOKS OF THE YEAR 1968:
1969 --Jan. 31 -- Santa Barbara oil well blowout off the Santa Barbara coast of California spills 235,000 gallons of oil and covers 30 miles of beach with tar. Well is capped Feb. 8.
1969 -- Auto makers settle suit by Justice Department for conspiracy to stifle the development of pollution-control devices started in the mid-1950s.
1969 -- Nov. 26 -- Five hundred attend UNESCO conference "Man and his Environment: A View Towards Survival" in San Francisco. Stanford University professor Paul Ehrlich said he thought that it would be imposossible to increase the food supply for the six to seven billion people expected by the 21st century. The idea that the food supply can be increased by harvesting the oceans "is a gigantic hoax," Erlich said. Stirling Bunnell warned that neither form of nuclear power -- fission or fusion -- would be a safe substitute for fossil energy. Carl Gerstacker, chair of Dow Chemical Co., said what worried him was the unwillingness of politicians to set effective pollution measures. Nixon respresntative Lee DuBridge, on the other hand, said that the "taxpayer and consumer, not the industry, must pay for environmental improvements." The conference was in preparation for the Stockholm Conference on the Environment of 1972. "A good many people in San Francisco expressed the hope that the United States will have a more responsible contribution to the coming meeting than a lecture on 19th century capitalist philosophy," Wolf von Eckert said in a Washington Post article Nov. 17 (p.B1). Finally, there was this gem:
The naivite, enthusiasm and idealism of young people is not a thing to be scorned, for it is the raw material of constructive growth... We will stop the destruction of this planet even at the cost of our futures, careers and blood." -- Pennfield Jensen, student, San Francisco State College.
1969 --Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act passed.
1969 -- National Environmental Policy Act passed in Congress.
" . . . it is the continuing policy of the Federal Government, in cooperation with State and local governments, and other concerned public and private organizations, to use all practicable means and measures, including financial and technical assistance, in a manner calculated to foster and promote the general welfare, to create and maintain conditions under which man and nature can exist in productive harmony, and fulfill the social, economic, and other requirements of present and future generations of Americans." NEPA Declaration of National Environmental Policy 101. (a)
1969 -- Friends of the Earth founded.
1969 -- New Alchemy Institute (now the Green Center) founded.
1969 -- Sierra Club v. Morton lawsuit is filed to prevent Walt Disney Enterprises from developing a large ski resort in the Mineral King area of the Sequoia National Park. The US Supreme Court denies the Sierra Club standing to sue the federal government (i.e., Sec. of Interior Morton). Later laws will provide avenues for standing. But the suit is notable for the eloquence of the 1972 dissent by Justice William O. Douglas. Referring to Aldo Leopold's Land Ethic and Christopher D. Stone's law article, Should Trees Have Standing? (45 S.Cal.L. Rev.450-1972), Douglas said:
"...Before these priceless bits of Americana such as a valley, an alpine meadow, a river, or a lake are forever lost or are so transformed as to be reduuced to the eventual rubble of our urban environment, the voice of the existing beneficiaries of these environmental wonders should be heard. Perhaps they will not win. Perhaps the bulldozers of 'progress' will plow under all the aesthetic wonders of this beautiful land. That is not the present question. The sole question is, who has standing to be heard? Those who hike the Appalachian Trail into Sunfish Pond, New Jersey, and camp or sleep there, or run the Allagash in Maine, or climb the Guadalupes in West Texas, or who canoe and portage the Quetico Superior in Minnesota, certainly should have standing to defend those natural wonders before courts or agencies, though they live 3,000 miles away. Those who merely are caught up in environmental news or propaganda and flock to defend these water or areas may be treated differently. That is why these environmental issues should be tendered by the inanimate object itself. Then there will be assurances that all of the forms of life which it represents will stand before the court -- the pileated woodpecker as well as the coyote and bear, the lemmings as well as the trout in the streams..." (James Barros, International Law of Pollution, 1974).
1969 -- June 22 -- Cuyahoga river bursts into flames 5 stories high from oil and chemical pollution, illuminating the extent of pollution and simultaneously igniting controversy over how much cleanup will be needed. The river fire becomes a defining moment for the new environmental movement.
“I will never forget a photograph of flames, fire, shooting right out of the water in downtown Cleveland. It was the summer of 1969, and the Cuyahoga River was burning.” Carol Browner, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator 1993-2001. Excellent website by Gillian Page on Cuyohoga River history.
1969, Sept. 10 -- Interior Dept. nets $900,220,590 in high bids for Alaskan oil leases. The sale of oil on 179 tracts of the North Slope totaling 450,858 acres opens the arctic for oil exploration.
ENVIRONMENTAL BOOKS OF THE YEAR 1969:
- Eugenie Clark, The Lady and the Sharks Harper & Row
- Not many appreciate the ultimate power and potential usefulness of basic knowledge accumulated by obscure, unseen investigators who, in a lifetime of intensive study, may never see any practical use for their finding but who go on seeking answers to the unknown without thought of financial or practical gain.
- Victor B. Sheffer, The Year of the Whale, takes whale-saving from the pursuit of a handful of scientists (most influentially, Sheffer himself and Sydney Holt) to the rise of an global Save the Whales! movement. (M. Clifton, 2007)