Welcome to the Environmental History Timeline text only home page.
The links on this page are to:
Biographies of green crusaders
Information about the timeline
Bibliography and references
Your comments and suggestions
Links to other environmental history sites
There are also thirteen different time periods we link to.
Ancient civilizations 3000 BC - 1200
Middle Ages and Renaissance 1200 - 1750
The Enlightenment 1750 - 1830
Industrial Revolution 1830 - 1890
Progressive Age 1890 - 1920
The twenties and thirties 1920 - 1940
The fourties and fifties 1940 - 1960
The sixties 1960 - 1970
The seventies 1970 - 1980
The eighties 1980 - 1990
The nineties 1990 - 2000
The present 2000 - now
This is the opening statement of the Timeline's philosophy :
Environmental issues have surfaced throughout human history.
The evidence is in manuscripts, publications and historical archives, but it is often found under labels like public health, conservation, preservation of nature, smoke abatement, municipal housekeeping, occupational disease, air pollution and water pollution. So the modern word "environmental" encompasses longstanding concerns.
Just as individuals are lost without their memories, civilization needs its collective memory in the form we call history. But history does not simply accumulate. Historians must take an interest in recovering facts and interpretations that may be important or useful.
A broad lack of historical perspective about green crusaders and environmental events has its origins in both neglect and misinformation. This lack of perspective becoming more obvious as environmental protection becomes an increasingly important part of the global social fabric. Issues often emerge in the mass media without context and then disappear with little more than symbolic resolution. Political conservatives seem not to recognize the reflection of their own values in conservation movements. Political liberals lack a sense of the traditions of social reform.
Dangerous myths emerge in the vacuum of history. For example:
That Rachel Carson's Silent Spring started all the uproar;
That environmentalism is just an hysterical reaction to science and technology;
That environmentalism is a passing fad with no serious ideas to offer.
The myths call us like sirens, telling us that environmental issues can be safely ignored. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The forgotten history of the environment comes as a surprise to many people. It is not found in every history textbook, although it is becoming better known. This shows that history is not a static collection of well known facts any more than science is an unchanging description of the physical world. History represents views of the past that may change, grow and coalesce around facts that may only become available decades after events in question.
It is now clear that long before Silent Spring was written or Greenpeace activists defied whalers' harpoons, many thousands of "green crusaders" tried to stop pollution, promote public health and preserve wilderness.
Their struggles deserve to be remembered. In doing so, we may develop a more mature view of the challenges confronting us all.