Environment and Geography — Physical and Human

Environment 1900s


1930: New Left: the label “new Left’ applies to activist organizations of the late 1960s that broke with the worker-oriented top-down movement and developed in the 1930s. Many of these New Left activists had developed a critique of corporate power and influence. Many participants in the environmental movement were veterans of New Left.

1930: Dust Bowl: This was when farmers in the Midwest faced hardships due to the inability to grow crops. This was due to constantly used soil causing it to lose fertility. A combination of drought and poor land use created one of the worst environmental disasters in United States History.

1939: DDT: Dr. Paul Muller discovered that this pesticide was effective in killing insects and it started use in WWII. After the war, the pesticide was continuing to be used on farms to control agricultural pests. DDT causes many problems in fish and wildlife. If an organism contained this pesticide, it is transferred to the environment including other organisms around it, affecting and harming the ecosystem as a whole.

1956: Interstate Highway Act: This declared that the constitution of an elaborate expressway system was essential to the national interest. The interstate highway system improved overall transportation for United States citizens. This enabled a higher volume of cars leading to contribution of CO2 and other harmful substances being released into the environment and into the ozone layer.

1962: Silent Spring: This novel vividly described how modern society was poisoning the earth. It talked about the impact of agricultural chemical DDT on the environment. Not only this, but it also explains how DDT eventually made it up the food chain and eventually effected the entire ecosystem. It was written by Rachel Carson. It is said to have “ignited” the environmental movement.

1970: Environmental Protection Agency: This agency was established by President Nixon to regulate pollution. It established emissions and other harmful effects on the environment. This also brought development forth for further environmentally friendly technology. The EPA cancelled the use of DDT on crops. This agency overall maintains and protects the environment.

1970: Clean Air Act: The Nixon administration created this act to set standards for air quality. This act achieved dramatic reductions in air pollution, ultimately leading to prevention of health effects. This law authorizes EPA to establish air quality standards to protect the public from hazardous air pollutants. This helps contribute to healthy air in the environment to breathe.

1979: Nuclear Power:  The process to create energy by using the energy reacted with substances such as uranium. This however produces radioactive waste that can provide great harm to the environment. The worst nuclear accident in the United States occurred at the Three Mile Island power plant in Pennsylvania in 1979. This accident raised significant concerns among Americans about the safety of nuclear power. This also contributed to harmful gasses being realeased into the air United States citizens breathe.

2005: Kyoto Act: This was an international treaty to limit greenhouse gas emissions which took effect in 2005. It was signed by 169 countries the Bush administration rejected the plan due to cost and it was not enforced by pollution producing nations such as china. This affects the current environmental standards of the world.

2005: Hurricane Katrina: The massive hurricane devastated the Gulf Coast area and destroyed much of New Orleans. The hurricane led to over a thousand deaths and severe damage in large areas of Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. From this hurricane, an estimated 10 billion gallons of contaminated water had been dumped into Lake Pontchartrain. The geography was greatly affected because during this natural disaster, islands had been swallowed such as Louisiana’s Chandeleur Islands as well as Mississippi’s barrier islands along the coast.