During this same period, people started writing and publishing books on every facet of environmental degradation, from overpopulation and chemical pollution to animal rights, conservation, species loss, deforestation, the loss of natural resources, and the decline in the overall quality of life caused by pollution. Most of these books discussed how bad the situation was at the time, and all of them made dire predictions for the future if something wasn't done. The most famous of these books was Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, published in 1962, and widely acknowledged to be the first and most influential of the "call to action'' books on the environment. Some historians date the beginnings of the modern environmental movement to Carson's book. Dr. Carson was one of the few writers on this subject who was a working and well-respected research scientist in the field.
The main subject of the book, DDT, a pesticide responsible for the death of thousands of birds and probably a good deal of human disease, was banned a few years later (more discussion of Dr. Carson's book is in chapter 10). The same year saw Our Synthetic Environment by Murray Bookchin, and a few years later came one of the most important books of this period, The Population Bomb by Paul Ehrlich. Other books of the first Earth Day period include Pollution and the Death of Man by Francis Schaeffer, The Closing Circle by Barry Commoner, and Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered by E. F. Schumacher. A fictional and sympathetic treatment of eco-
terrorism by Edward Abbey called The Monkey Wrench Gang was published in 1975 with much success. Although the early 1970s might have been the peak period of interest and publishing on environmental issues, the number of books published on this topic remained high throughout the next two decades. Some examples include Groundwater Contamination in the United States by Ruth Patrick, Whatever Happened to Ecology? by Stephanie Mills, When Technology Wounds: The Human Consequences of Progress by Chellis Glendinning, Defending the Earth by Murray Bookchin and Dave Foreman, and Earth in the Balance: Ecology and Human Spirit by Al Gore, who was then a senator and soon to be vice president of the United States. Mr. Gore's more recent book, An Inconvenient Truth, is devoted largely to the issue of global warming.
What about now? Are there still such organizations and agencies devoted to environmental protection and the remediation of pollution? The answer is emphatically yes. There are in fact hundreds of such organizations all throughout the country, and they are all active in both local and national efforts to reduce environmental hazards to human beings, wildlife, and the ecology.
The Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange was created in 1997 by the EPA with the goal of establishing a seamless national network of prevention information that promotes waste reduction throughout the United States. The exchange was set up as part of the Pollution Prevention Act. The goal of this law was to encourage practices "which reduce the amount of any hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant entering any waste stream or otherwise released into the environment. . . .''
The Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange website lists more than 300 nonprofit organizations devoted to pollution prevention and remediation. I chose the following organizations more or less at random to give a better flavor for the kinds of activities that are and have been driving the enormous engine of environmental rescue in this country for the past three to four decades. The Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange (PPRE) website includes the following information:
WasteWise is a free, voluntary, EPA sponsored program through which organizations eliminate costly municipal solid waste, benefiting their bottom line and the environment. WasteWise is a flexible program that allows partners to design their own solid waste reduction programs tailored to their needs. As a WasteWise partner, an organization can save thousands or millions of dollars by reducing, reusing, and recycling solid waste materials.
The Building Materials Exchange (BME) a division of Impact Services is a non-profit clearinghouse for surplus and salvaged building materials in North Philadelphia that accepts hundreds of salvage donations from contractors, institutions and individuals. BME's employees and volunteers refurbish the materials and distribute them to income-qualified families and other non-profit organizations serving the needy. BME makes local pickups free. All donations are tax-deductible charitable contributions.
Ohio Materials Exchange (OMEx) is a joint effort of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Ohio Department of Development, Ohio EPA and the Association of Ohio Recyclers. OMEx has a free website where businesses can list their available and wanted materials. OMEx serves Ohio and sources throughout the United States.
The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing energy efficiency as a means of promoting both economic prosperity and environmental protection.
The Boston Area Solar Energy Association fosters the design and use of solar and sustainable energy technologies through education, advocacy and the demonstration of practical, cost effective techniques. Its goal is to promote renewable energy for a sustainable future.
Clean Wisconsin, an environmental advocacy organization, protects Wisconsin's clean water and air and advocates for clean energy by being an effective voice in the state legislature and by holding elected officials and corporations accountable.
Friends of the Chicago River's mission is to foster the vitality of the Chicago River for the human, plant, and animal communities within its watershed. Priorities are to provide public access to the Chicago River and to show that the Chicago River can be both ecologically healthy and a catalyst for community revitalization.
The Great Lakes Protection Fund is a private, nonprofit corporation formed in 1989 by the Governors of the Great Lakes States. It is a permanent environmental endowment that supports collaborative actions to improve the health of the Great Lakes ecosystem.
The Michigan Environmental Council (MEC) provides a collective voice for the environment at the local, state and federal levels. Working with our member groups and their collective membership of nearly 200,000 residents, MEC is addressing the primary assaults on Michigan's environment; promoting alternatives to urban blight and suburban sprawl; advocating for a sustainable environment and economy; protecting Michigan's water legacy; promoting cleaner energy; and working to diminish environmental impacts on children's health.
TechSolve, Inc. is a not-for-profit organization focused on helping manufacturers through respected, solution-focused and implement-able process improvements. Services provided include environmen-
tal pollution prevention, energy management, lean manufacturing, green fluids, and machining optimization.
One of the most interesting developments in current attempts to deal with the most serious environmental issue of our time, global warming (see the "Bad News'' section in chapter 3) is the birth of an organization called TerraPass (www.terrapass.com). This group collects money from people and businesses based on their outputs of carbon dioxide (or carbon footprint) from activities such as driving a car or flying in an airplane. The money collected is then spent to fund energy projects and purchases of wind power, biomass, and industrial efficiency. So far the group claims to have contributed to the elimination of 150 million pounds of carbon dioxide through their funding of clean-energy projects.
Some more examples of these organizations, chosen more or less at random from the full list of more than 300 from the PPRE website, include the following, many of which are based at the local, state, or municipality level: Arkansas Environmental Federation, Associated Recyclers of Wisconsin, Association of Illinois Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Beyond Pesticides, Campaign for Sensible Growth, Center for Energy and Environment, Center for a Sustainable Future, Chicago Climate Exchange, Colorado Association for Recycling, Development Center for Appropriate Technology, Environmental Coalition of South Seattle, Environmental Education Association of Illinois, Green Prairie Foundation for Sustainability, Groundwater Foundation, Healthy Indoor Air for America's Homes, Illinois Recycling Association, Kentucky Solar Partnership, Maine Solar Energy Association, Minnesota Environmental Initiative, National Pollution Prevention Round-table, Openlands Project, Pennsylvania Resources Council, Pesticide Action Network North America, Pollution Prevention Resource Center, Resources for the Future, Sustainable Hudson Valley, The Greening of Detroit, and Wisconsin Environmental Initiative.
There are also hundreds more small, local, grassroots groups, often formed by local residents to deal with local issues. Of course there is not sufficient space for a short description or even a complete list of all the organizations devoted to the environment. The important point is that so many of these organizations exist and that they are devoted not only to political activity, but also to making a real difference in the way businesses, factories, and ordinary people conduct themselves in order to prevent pollution and protect our shared environment.
In addition to all of these grassroots and semiprofessional organizations, the Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange website lists more than 200 educational institutions, more than 80 federal government agencies, more than 100 local government agencies, more than 60 recycling programs, and a total of more than 300 organizations and agencies devoted to assisting small businesses and manufacturers in complying with environmental rules while maximizing profitability. These include material exchanges, which function as recycling centers for building and other industrial materials, as well as programs to increase energy efficiency.
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