Compilation by John Dean, University of Versailles, winter-spring 2014; a structure based on various sources as cited, along with my own additions, alterations & emendations. Any faults herein are both mine and the foibles of information overload.
Timeline: US Environmental History From
the US Civil War to the Present Era
Abbreviations: ND = natural disaster; AKA = also known as; CF: compare [L. confer]; Q. = quote ; USDA = United States Department of Agriculture; EPA: Environmental Protection Agency; R. = Republican; D. = Democrat; KP = Kyoto Protocol; FDR = Franklin Delano Roosevelt; Act = law passed by legislative body, approved by local mayor, governor, or US president; govt. = government; govts. = governments.
~ " Who knows only his own generation remains always a child."
~ “History is the raw matter out of which identity is made.”
- Sir Eric Hobsbawm, On History (1997).
- Homestead Act. Supported by A.Lincoln & legislated by US federal Congress, encouraged settlers to migrate to the trans-Mississippi West. Act provided that a head of a family could acquire 160 acres (64ha 7497.0m²) of land, settle & cultivate it for five years -- this accomplished, he owned the land. Family head had to be either a citizen or declared intention to become one. In continental USA almost all federal land was settled under this Act's provisions by 1890; though Homesteading did continue in America's outlying areas until 1986. HA was probably the single most important stimulus for post-Civil War Westward movement.
- Morril Land Grant Act. Federal government granted 30,000 acres of public land to every state for each of its Senators & Congressman, from which sale agricultural & mechanical arts colleges were established -- which created 69 land grant colleges as separate institutions or state university adjuncts. US education's most important piece of legislation to date.
- New York City's Central Park completed -- though nation's oldest city park is The Boston Commons park (aka: "Boston Common”), established 1634, Boston, Massachusetts.
- Yosemite State Park created when Lincoln ceded 20,000 acres to California for purpose of conservation; established as national park in 1890. First known effort by any government to set aside protected lands (arguably preceded by President Andrew Jackson's creation of Hot Springs Reservation, Arkansas, in 1832.)
-- US author & "America's first environmentalist" George Perkins Marsh publishes Man and Nature, early work of ecology which argued that deforestation leads to desertification; highlighted past environmental destruction of Mediterranean region as the future which awaited the United States.
- 1865-1945, from post-bellum United States through end of World War Two: general attitude toward Nature in the US was settlement and hunting; both winning and conquering the environment, an attitude founded on both the needs and beliefs of the earlier 1607-1865 period. After the Civil War the West was conquered -- due to the available technology, a massive demographic shift from Atlantic to Pacific coasts, and the post-war impetus of renewal.
- Following end of Civil War in April, the prolific publishing firm of Currier & Ives (fl.1824-1907) flooded the nation with inexpensive color images of national landscapes, holidays, comic scenes, famous Americans, dramatic events, and glories of modern technology. In this era the nation commonly sees itself via Currier & Ives.
- Following end of Civil War Yosemite Park further developed as a tourist attraction for an American audience seeking a national icon, a place to symbolize exotic wonder of its region, and the quality of "transcendentalism" commonly associated by Americans with Nature. To date the tourism industry remains one of the half dozen, if not top three, employers in the United States -- mainly run by private industry.
- Demographics: US Population @ 35.2 million people.
- John Wesley Powell (1834-1902) leads first expedition down Colorado River, by 1878 submits Reports on the Lands of the Arid Regions of the United States which calls for settlement & development of the southwest in a way that respects the region's environmental limitations. Powell remarkably prescient for his accurate evaluations, linguistic & sociological research and estimations.
- Completion of the US Transcontinental Railroad, begun in 1863 (aka: "Overland Route", "Pacific Railroad") -- the world's first transcontinental railroad; radically changed both the land's immediate environment now occupied by "The Iron Horse" and character of the trans-Mississippi West.
- First American, government-owned wildlife refuge, Lake Merritt Wildlife Refuge at Lake Merritt, established by Samuel Merritt & enacted in California state law.
- Peshtigo Fire, Michigan Upper Peninsular; death toll estimated 1,200-2,500 -- highest fire fatalities for a ND in US history; area nearly twice size of Rhode Island burned. "Peshtigo paradigm" is another name for firestorm.
- Great Chicago Fire, estimated fatalities: 200-300; fire began the same day as Peshtigo & other fires which destroyed towns & forests in Wisconsin and Michigan.
- US Commerce Department's National Marine Fisheries Service founded, the nation's oldest conservation organization; founded as "U.S. Commission of Fish and Fisheries" -- established to investigate & curb the decline of food- fish stocks following the collapse of the New England nearshore fishery in 1870.
- Tree Planting Day first observed in Nebraska; soon known as "Arbor Day" & becomes a tradition widely observed across the nation, usually in spring.
- Congress passed Timber Culture Act, first of several reforestation laws & programs. Half of America was forest land at its beginning. This Act granted 160 acres of treeless lands to settlers who were encouraged to plant trees on this territory.
- Forest and Stream founded, nation's premier outdoor sportsman's publication & significant forum for conservation advocacy.
- William Cullen Bryant publishes Picturesque America, full-page engravings of celebrated American scenery which stimulates popular interest in natural landscape, fosters increased tourism.
- American Forestry Association founded when US Congress passes an Act prohibiting the unauthorized cutting of trees on government property.
- Appalachian Mountain Club Founded, nation's oldest conservation and recreation organization; " promotes the protection, enjoyment, & understanding of the mountains, forests, waters, and trails of the Appalachian region."
- Demographics: US Population @ 50,189,209.
- American bison close to extinction, reduced to a few hundred from original estimates of over sixty million. Only continuously wild bison herd left at this date was in Yellowstone Park, plus isolated bison herds privately owned by ranchers. Gradually strong conservation efforts mobilized and the native bison were saved. Current American bison population estimated to be around 350,000+.
- National Audubon Society founded; mission " to conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats for the benefit of humanity and the earth's biological diversity."
- US Division of Forestry created; 1905 transfered to Dept. of Agriculture .
- Dawes Act, attempted to secure for the Indians ownership of land "in severality" (each taken singly), its aim the total assimilation of individual Native Americans into American society as small farmers. The DA conferred citizenship and ownership of a tract of land upon those Indians who renounced their tribal allegiance. Many Indians discouraged because of conditions, including long waiting period of 25 years & abuse of their right to vote. CF: 1924, and Wheeler-Howard Act of 1925.
-- Boone and Crockett Club founded by hunter-conservationist Theodore Roosevelt; club worked for expansion & protection of natural parks and wild animal environments.
- Hatch Act: established agricultural experiment stations to do research on the production of food, fiber, and nutrition and dissemination of results to the public.
- The Playground Movement (children's urban environment). In early 1890s, copying a German practice, Joseph Lee (1862-1937) initiated outdoor playground areas for underprivileged inner-city children in Boston; stating: "Play for adults is recreation -- the renewal of life; for children it is growth -- the gaining of life".
- Oldest regional land trust in the world -- The Trustees of Reservations -- established, a non-profit land conservation & historic preservation organization dedicated to preserving natural & historical places in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
- Sierra Club founded under leadership of John Muir (1838-1914), which promoted protection of the environment & in particular facilitated outdoor enjoyment of the West the and California mountains. Muir's Our National Parks (1901) established him as the leading advocate for wilderness preservation in the USA.
- Ellen Swallow (1842-1911), the USA's first female industrial and environmental chemist, introduced the word "oekology" to America as study of "earth's household"; term first coined by German biologist Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919) German biologist and polymath in 1866.
-- Frederick Jackson Turner publishes "Significance of the Frontier in American History" arguing for the positive strengths of American individualism and independence, the character of the American people and their institutions, which came about as the result of the frontier. In America "each type of industry was on the march toward the West, impelled by an irresistible attraction. Each passed in successive waves across the continent...American democracy was born of no theorist's dream...It came stark and strong and full of life out of the American forest, and it gained new strength each time it touched a new frontier.” CF: 1910, 1912.
- Wildlife Conservation Society founded as "New York Zoological Society"; purpose to advance wildlife conservation, promote zoological study, and create a first-class zoological park.
- Biltmore Forest School, first forestry school in the United States founded by German forester Carl Schenck (1868-1955; 1889-1913: BFS) with aid of George W. Vanderbilt near Asheville, North Carolina; BFS was both birthplace & foundation of forestry in America.
-- Johnstown Flood, Johnstown, Pennsylvania; dam failure caused 20 million tons of water to be unleashed, devastating relatively poor town of Johnstown, PA & surrounding area; 2,000-5,000 people died; costs ranged over $425 Million in 2012 dollars. A millionaires recreational group, South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club, were deemed responsible for the faulty dam that favored the construction of their mountain vacation retreat above Johnstown. Though brought to court, they were never held legally responsible for the disaster. This was the first major natural disaster relief effort handled by the American Red Cross, led by Clara Barton.
- Congress passes bill establishing Mt. Rainer National Park in Washington.
- New England Wild Flower Society, nation's oldest plant conservation organization established.
- Lacey Act: prohibited the interstate and international trade in illegally taken wildlife, in response to the destruction of birds used for their feathers in the millinery trade. CF 1886 Audubon Society.
-Galveston, Texas Hurricane, estimated fatalities 6-12,000; remains costliest ND in North American History.
- Demographics: 1900 estimated US population @: 76, 212,168 (alternately 76,094,000);
average life expectancy: 47.3 years old.
- Bernhard Fernow (1851-1923), third chief of the USDA's Division of Forestry and German-American, published Economics of Forestry, in which he argued that the individualism established in the frontier was detrimental to the conservation of natural resources, precisely because it assaulted the rights of the many to favor the rights of the few; reasoned forests had to be maintained for future generations more than for current use. Fernow became the first dean of the New York State College of Forestry at Cornell, the USA's first four-year forestry school.
- Reclamation Act: financed federal irrigation projects in the arid West by selling public lands; established Bureau of Reclamation to oversee the administration of Western water and irrigation works, to promote flood control and eventually to
generate electric power.
- Pelican Island, the USA's first federal Wildlife Refuge, established by President Theodore Roosevelt (first of 53 he created as president). CF: 1870.
- Mary Austin's Land of Little Rain published; 20th century environmental classic which praised American deserts and lifeways of native occupants of the West.
- US Forest Service created to control use & development of national forests, guard them against fire & diseases, conduct research in scientific forestry & wildlife resources.
- American Antiquities Act: Congress authorized President to create national monuments by preserving federal lands that contained historic landmarks and prehistoric structures -- which began with Devils Tower in Wyoming.
- Winters Doctrine: in response to complaints by Western Indian tribes, the US Supreme Court affirmed the water rights of Indian tribes in the Western states.
- The conservationist movement was launched as a national cause by Theodore Roosevelt at the Conference of Governors.
- Surge of Conservation Movement at end of the US Progressive Era, prior to New Deal and modern Liberal era; with 5 national Conservation Congresses held between 1909-1913.
- San Francisco earthquake & fire; urban conflagration followed quake; 3,000–6,000 fatalities estimated.
--The Fight for Conservation published by Gifford Pinchot (1865 –1946), American forester, politician and first Chief of the US Forest Service, in which Pinchot declared: "Conservation is the foresighted utilization, preservation and...renewal of forest, waters, lands and minerals, for the greatest good of the greatest number for the longest time” -- which has become a US epithet for environmentalism ever since.
- Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan first appeared in novel Tarzan of the Apes (magazine: 1912, book: 1914); tremendously popular form of man versus wilderness stories, much in support of Turner's Frontier Thesis.
- Extinction of the last passenger pigeon (or "wild pigeon"), after decades of shooting for sport; an estimated 3 to 5 billion passenger pigeons existed in America in early 1600s.
- The Migratory Bird Treaty Act, nation’s oldest surviving wildlife statute -- put in place to halt the unregulated hunting of migratory birds, particularly for the feather trade. CF: Lacey Act & Audubon Society.
- Demographics: estimated 1920 US population @: 106,021,537; first census that recorded population exceeding 100 million & in which the majority of Americans were living in urban areas and no longer in rural areas.
-- Izaak Walton League American environmental organization founded that promotes natural resource protection and outdoor recreation; began efforts in the 1930s for clean water legislation which culminated in the Clean Water Act of 1972. Publishes Outdoor America.
- Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, US Congress declares all Indians born within the United States to be citizens, signed into law by President Calvin Coolidge (R.)
- Great Mississippi Flood of 1927, estimated dead: 246, cost: $400 million; areas effected: Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi & Tennessee. Part of a spate of great Mississippi River & related floods which led to flood control programs in the area under the New Deal.
- Era of US Great Depression in which federal government efforts to beat economic depression were closely linked with conservation & preservation, established & promoted many agencies involved with the environment. Both a D. Party & bi-partisan effort.
- Dust Bowl Drought in the Great Plains, partly brought about & compounded by unsustainable agricultural techniques; caused second greatest internal migration in US history. First greatest: 2005, following Hurricane Katrina.
- Era of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's "New Deal", followed by Harry Truman's "Fair Deal" which initiates the most-wide ranging changes in progressive, institutionalized environmentalism in the History of the United States.
- Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) established -- a corporation owned by the U.S. government & once built has ever since provided electricity for 9 million people in parts of seven southeastern states at prices below the national average.
- Civilian Conservation Corps (1933-1942) founded, a New Deal program which relieved unemployment by allowing young, unmarried men to receive food, housing & a small salary
in exchange for working on federal projects to conserve soils & other natural resources.
As New York State Governor, FDR had run a similar program on a small scale.
- Wheeler-Howard Act (aka: "Indian Reorganization Act"): reversed U. S. policy favoring Indian assimilation & became basis for United States policies that recognize the right of self-determination for Native Americans.
- The Historic Sites and Buildings Act directs the Secretary of the Interior to document, acquire, & preserve historic properties.
- Soil Conservation Act: established a permanent Soil Conservation Service in the USDA.
- Wilderness Society founded by Bob Marshall & others; US not-for-profit organization that advocates for the protection of U.S. public lands; eventually resulted in "Bob Marshall Wilderness" (1 million acres in NW Montana).
- Nation's first Soil & Water Conservation District established in North Carolina.
- Great New England Hurricane of 1938, 600 estimated fatalities.
.1941-45: World War II
- Dividing line between older New Deal responses to the environment and the newer, modern environmental movement. WWII resulted in technological advances which posed safety to the environment and humans -- such as the atomic bomb & nuclear energy, increased production of chemicals & synthetic materials. Before WWII efficient management of resources dominated environmental thought and policy; after WWII the emphasis moved to improved environmental quality, to redress environmental errors, to human and ecological health and wholeness.
.1945-48 ~ 1989-91: the Cold War's omnipresent political conditions limited the public's awareness of environmental issues, toxic dangers, risks of intensified, unregulated technologies. Early example: fault by ignorance of the "Downwinders" -- people exposed to radioactive contamination or nuclear fallout, following weapons testing due to the regular production and maintenance of nuclear weapons, power and waste. From 1951– mid-1962, the primary atomic bomb Nevada Test Site had 86 tests at or above ground level, & 14 other tests underground, all of which involved releases of significant amounts of radioactive material into the atmosphere. In the 1950s, people who lived in the vicinity of the NTS were encouraged to sit outside and watch the mushroom clouds that were created by nuclear bomb explosions.
- Bureau of Land Management (BLM) created by merging General Land Office & Grazing Service; responsible for administration and management of federal lands, deserts, minerals.
- The International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, now the World Conservation Union, is founded. The Union brings together governmental bodies & non-governmental organizations from around the world to protect natural heritage through policy initiatives & on-the-ground actions.
- Water Pollution Control Act: first federal law to deal official with water pollution; authorized finds to implement state & local govts. to identify and improve polluted waters.
-The National Trust for Historic Preservation chartered by U.S. Congress. The Trust, a private, nonprofit organization, works to protect historic buildings, neighborhoods & landscapes.
- Aldo Leopold's A Sand County Almanac published. Within USA -- along with Emerson's essay "Nature" (1836) and Thoreau's book Walden (1854) -- remains one of the most influential works about conservation ever written. Argued need for a "land ethic" through which humans embrace a more respectful, harmonious relationship with the natural world.
- Great Appalachian Storm of November 1950 in Eastern US States, hurricane-force winds peaked at 110 miles per hour (180 km/h); estimated 353 fatalities, cost of $66,700,000 (1950$).
- Demographics: US Population @ 150,697,361.
- Great Flood of 1951: Kansas and Missouri, estimated fatalities 28, cost: $7,000,000,000 (2005$).
-The Nature Conservancy is incorporated by its predecessor, The Ecologist's Union. By 1990s the Conservancy will own & manage the largest network of private nature reserves in the world.
-Beginning in 1959 and extending through the 1960s the first color photos of planet Earth
are taken and widely distributed with astonishing effect, assisting environmentalism.
- Rachel Carson's Silent Spring reveals impact of pesticides & radioactive fallout from atomic bomb testing on humans and environment. Silent Spring launches a new era of growth in environmental awareness and activism; had tremendous impact with US Cultural Revolution of 1960s.
- Clean Air Act: modified 1955 Air Pollution Control Act by allocating permanent funding for work of state pollution agencies; extended in 1970.
- Good Friday Earthquake, tsunami: Alaska, Hawaii, Oregon, California, British Columbia; estimated fatalities 115, cost $1,800,000,000 (2006$)
- Period of landmark federal conservation legislation begins with passage of the Wilderness Act. Following year, Congress enacts & approves the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act, and in 1968 the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and the National Trails Act.
- Wilderness Act: Congress designated certain federal lands as wilderness areas, "here the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, and where man himself is a visitor who does not remain."
- Indian Civil Rights Act: mandated tribal consent in civil & criminal juridical matters concerning Indian lands.
- Paul Ehrlich publishes The Population Bomb which had massive effect on public opinion -- in a time of growing birth control use -- warning about the negative impacts which the late 20th century's population explosion would have on natural resources. Ehrlich's work built on Thomas Malthus 1798 study: "An Essay on the Principle of Population".
- Hurricane Camille: Mississippi, Alabama and Virginia, estimated fatalities: 256
- Friends of the Earth (FOE) founded.
- The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA): required every federal agency to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for any legislation or project that would effect quality of human environment; also created Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) which advises president.
- Earth Day is celebrated for the first time by an estimated 20 million people across the United States; to which date -- April 22, 1970 -- the modern US Environmental Movement traces its birth.
- National Environmental Policy Act establishes a federal responsibility to "preserve important historic, cultural, and natural aspects of our national heritage."
- Sylmar Earthquake (aka: 1971 San Fernando earthquake), greater Los Angeles, California area, fatalities: 65, cost: $500,000,000 (1971$).
- World Heritage Convention adopted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
- Federal Water Pollution Control Act.
- Endangered Species Act (ESA): gave govt. authority to list threatened & endangered species & to protect their vital habitat. A law repeatedly extended, it has been the subject of intense controversy. Example: in 1990 the US Fish & Wildlife Service listed the Spotted Owl as a threatened species -- thus limited logging in Pacific Northwest forests to protect the Spotted Owl's habitat -- which caused vociferous protests by timber industry advocates.
- Toxic Substances Control Act: law regulating public exposure to toxic materials.
- Resource Conservation and Recovery Act
- National Trust for Historic Preservation announces its first Main Street project to help towns revitalize their older commercial areas.
- Love Canal scandal: grassroots organizer Lois Gibbs organized neighbors in Love Canal area of Niagara Falls, N.Y., to protest toxic chemical dump underlying the neighborhood & to seek retribution from New York State. LC eventually became the first federal disaster area in US due to man-made causes; started the EPA’s Superfund program. CF: 1976, 1980.
-Three Mile Island Meltdown: most significant American nuclear power accident to date; partial core meltdown
at the Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station, Dauphin County, Pa.
- Mount St. Helens eruption, Washington State; estimated 57 fatalities.
- Great 1980 Heat Wave: central & southern states; estimated 1,700+ dead.
-The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA; aka: "Superfund") created, a US federal law designed to clean up sites contaminated with hazardous substances, as well as "pollutants or contaminants".
- Ecofeminism Movement begins with conference on "Women and Life on Earth" in Amherst, Massachusetts; undertook to explore & act on cultural connections between women & nature.
- Demographics: by 1980: 25% of US population lives in rural areas; less than 3% lives on farms.
- Pitcher, Oklahoma declared the Tar Creek Superfund site and called "the most toxic place in America" due to lead contamination from its lead and zinc mines. but most of the residents didn’t leave until 2006 when studies found that most of the town was in imminent danger of collapsing into the mines.
- Water Quality Act: Congress stopped federal funding for wastewater treatment & directed the states to list toxic hot spots. Groundwater protection provisions are included in the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974 (which, however, does not apply to bottled water).
- Exxon Valdez oil spill: Exxon Valdez supertanker hit a reef in Prince William Sound, Alaskan Gulf; 11 of its cargo tanks ruptured, dumped 10.8 million gallons of crude that eventually covered 11,000 miles of ocean. Estimated that 250,000 seabirds, 2,800 sea otters, 300 harbor seals, 250 bald eagles and up to 22 killer whales died along with billions of salmon and herring eggs. Twenty years after event the spill hadn't fully been cleaned up
- Loma Prieta earthquake San Francisco Bay Area, California; 69 fatalities, 6 $billion cost.
- North America Wetlands Conservation Act: authorized funding for wetland habits throughout Mexico, Canada, USA.
- In a time of declining government resources, non-governmental organizations play an increasingly important role in conservation worldwide. More than 1,200 land trusts are active in the United States alone by the late 1990s, an increase of 63% from a decade earlier. Together the trusts have protected nearly 5 million acres (2,023,428 ha 2232.1m²).
- W.R. Grace asbestos plant in Libby, Mont. closes -- which since 1919 had spewed asbestos over the small town, sickened more than 1,000 people, killed more than 200. Company is now bankrupt after facing more than 270,000 asbestos-related lawsuits.
- Pollution Prevention Act: gave corporations incentives to reduce pollutants by implementing changes in production, operation, & use of raw materials.
- Earth Summit, Rio de Janero (aka: " The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development" [UNCED], & "Rio Summit", "Rio Conference"); representative from 172 countries discussed & created a plan to combat environmental, economic, & social problems facing the international community. In 2012, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development was also held in Rio, it's referred to as "Rio+20" or "Rio Earth Summit 2012".
- A group of ranchers from a million-acre region in southern Arizona and New Mexico form Malpai Borderlands Group, a nonprofit organization dedicated to achieving more sustainable ranching techniques & protecting the area's unfragmented landscape. Working with scientists, government officials, & the Nature Conservancy, the group implements new range management practices that improve grazing & enhance region's biodiversity. This project is an example of the growing emphasis on "community-based conservation" in the United States.
- California Desert Protection Act passed.
- Chicago Heat Wave of 1995, Chicago, Illinois; estimated fatalities: 739.
- Oklahoma tornado outbreak: Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, Tennessee - 66 tornadoes; fatalities: 48, cost 1 1/2 $billion.
-"Battle in Seattle" , aka: the Third World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting in Seattle, Washington, held to reach agreements on global free trade but seriously disrupted by protests over environmental quality, social justice, labor rights.
- Demographics: US Population @ 281,421,906.
- World population surpasses 6,000,000,000 people.
- Hurricane Ivan: Texas, Florida, East Coast; estimated fatalities 124, cost: $19,000,000,000 (2005$)
-Kyoto Protocol ratified (without US ratification), went into effect February 2005 & committed 30 industrialized nations to reducing greenhouse gases to their 1990 levels by 2012.
The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which commits its Parties by setting internationally binding emission reduction targets. adopted in Kyoto, Japan, on 11 December 1997, the KP and entered into force on 16 February 2005. The detailed rules for the implementation of the Protocol were adopted at COP 7 in Marrakesh, Morocco, in 2001, and are referred to as the "Marrakesh Accords." Its first commitment period started in 2008 and ended in 2012.
- National Academy of Sciences, USA, estimates "hidden" costs of energy production & use,
such as the damage air pollution imposes on human health, stands at $125 billion yearly; "a number that reflects primarily health damages from air pollution associated with electricity generation and motor vehicle transportation."
- By 2005 in the United States, Canada and Australia heating swimming pools is the dominant application of solar hot water with an installed capacity of 18 GW.
- Tennessee coal ash spill: dam walls holding 1.1 billion gallons of coal ash crumbled, spilling the toxic concoction into the town of Kingston, Tenn., and creating the USA's largest industrial spill yet.
- Hurricane Katrina: Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama; estimated fatalities 1,836, cost: $84 billion (2006$)
-Extreme droughts in Southeast US. At one point the city of Atlanta, Ga., had just three months of water left. As drought worsened, it triggered a nasty legal fight between Florida, Georgia & Alabama over declining water supplies.
- The North American Blizzard of 2008: winter storm that struck most of southern and eastern North America from March 6 to March; worst winter storm for several years
- Southeastern United States floods: affected several counties throughout northern Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas; worst conditions across Atlanta metropolitan area. Continuous rain, spawned by moisture pulled from the Gulf of Mexico, fell faster than the local watersheds could drain runoff; estimated fatalities: 10.
- BP Deepwater Horizon Gulf Oil Spill: leaked an estimated 206 million gallons into the Gulf of Mexico, made it worst oil spill in U.S. history & largest accidental oil spill to date in world. Oil washed ashore in all of the Gulf states, created health threats for both humans and animals.
- Tornado outbreak Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia, Arkansas and Virginia, 336 tornadoes: April 25–28, 2011; 346 estimated fatalities, cost: $11,000,000,000 (2011$)
- Hurricane Sandy, Eastern US, 147 dead; cost: $75 billion; Sandy (aka: "Superstorm Sandy"), second-costliest hurricane in US history.
- In September Boulder Colorado flood claimed lives of at least four people, left more than 80 unaccounted; damage mainly due to mudslides.
- As of the third quarter of 2013 US wind power capacity is 60,078 MW, a capacity exceeded only by China. According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), the US leads the world in produced electricity from wind, 120 billion kW-hr in 2011, versus 73 billion kW-hours for China.
- 1-2% of US power is now generated by decentralized, renewable sources.
- Nitro chemical spill -- on January 9, 2014, govt. officials discovered that over 7,500 gallons of 4-methylcyclohexane methanol (coal-cleaning chemical) had leaked out of a facility in Nitro, West Virginia & into local Elk River. The chemical spill was just upriver from the largest water treatment facility in West Virginia.
- Demographics: estimated US Population @: 313.9 million (not counting "illegals"); average life expectancy 78.64 years. CF: 1900 demographics.
NB: conservation, preservation
~ To date the USA has 59 protected areas known as national parks, operated by the National Park Service, an agency of the Department of the Interior.
~ In addition, 27 US states have national parks, as do the territories of American Samoa and the United States Virgin Islands.
~ Among these parks, 14 are designated World Heritage Sites.
~ The US has 155 protected areas known as National Forests covering 188,293,938 acres (761,999 km2).
~ Plus the National Wilderness Preservation System (NWPS) protects federally managed wilderness areas designated for preservation in their natural condition, such as in the "Ansel Adams Wilderness" in the Sierra Nevada.
~ Plus there exists 108 protected areas of widely varrying sizes known as national monuments, ranging from Admiralty Island in the Alaskan Panhandle to the Agate Fossil Beds of Nebraska and the African Burial Ground in the Civic Center district of Lower Manhattan.
Sources (hard-copy & virtual).
Books, articles: Michael Martin & Leonard Gelber, Dictionary of American History (New York: Littlefield, Adams & Co.-Philosophical Library, Inc., 1968); Gifford Pinchot, The Fight for Conservation. (New York: Doubleday, Page & Company, 1910); Merchant, Carolyn. American Environmental History (New York: Columbia University Press, 2007) 2nd edn.; Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. ; The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th edn. ©2000 Houghton Mifflin Co.,. updated 2009; "Bypassing the grid to stand alone," Wednesdsay, October 9, 2013, Global Edition of the New York Times, p.S1, special section "Business of Green"; "Hidden Health and Environmental Costs Of Energy Production and Consumption In U.S.," from the National Academy of Sciences, Oct. 19, 2009, in NAS News, @: "http://www8.
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Online: List of natural disasters in the United States @: "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_natural_disasters_in_the_United_States"
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