The Rise of Environmentalism in the United States Essay

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The Rise of Environmentalism in the United States Eden; it is a word that, for most, inspires thoughts of lush green trees, untarnished fruit, soft green grass, perfect blue skies, and harmony within nature. According to Judeo-Christian teachings, this is similar to the state in which the world began. It was an environment unspoiled by humans, unblemished by their pollution. Such a pristine utopia is often hard for a person to imagine today amongst the industrial smokestacks and their billowing gray clouds, between the rancid landfill mounds, and surrounded by stagnant pools of oil-slicked water.

The environment in America today is far from Eden, but there is a valiant battle being fought by many to return the earth to a more
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However, until around 1920 nature was little more than the supplier of life sustaining necessities3. From nature Americans obtained wood for their homes, fuel for their fires, and plants and game for their meals. At this time the concern for nature was not for it’s innate beauty or pure state, but rather for it’s productivity. If nature was providing ample food and shelter is was serving its necessitated purpose.

As the American economy grew in the 1920’s so too did peoples personal finances. With a booming economy people had larger spending, or discretionary funds. This brought upon the shift from a market of necessities to a market of convenience goods. At this point there is still very little mention of the environment. One could argue that the Soil Conservation Act of 1933 showed concern for the environment, but the real motive behind the Act was a concern for crop productivity. With a passing of the Soil Conservation and the similar Taylor Grazing Act, the idea of "natural resources" is popularized. The idea of natural resources, however, still portrays the idea that people saw nature as a service to humans. It isn’t until the F. D. Roosevelt administration that nature is preserved simply for being natural.

The era of FDR was one of secure economy and growing incomes. With the popularization of the automobile, people began urbanizing around cities and living further from their work places, many gained leisure and vacation time, and for the first time
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