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Green Living Certification
Chapter 2 - Environmental Primer
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2 Environmental Primer

The news these days is dire, and it comes at us in all directions. We shouldn't drive our cars, drink our water or dry our clothes. It's all bad for the environment, we're told, but many of us aren't sure how.

If you are unfamiliar with the various environmental issues and concerns, it can be an overwhelming task to educate yourself. What is global warming? Why are landfills bad? What difference does water consumption make?

In this chapter, we hope to give you a very basic education about environmental issues. The issues are complex and always changing, but here we can at least provide you with enough basic information so that you can speak intelligently about the issues and when you choose to take a shorter shower, you'll understand why you have made that choice.

Keep in mind that while the issues might seem complicated, at their core they really are not. It all comes down to the basic issue of considering Mother Earth and what's best for her. Sometimes when you synthesize things down to their most basic, we see their core issues.

When we heal the earth, we heal ourselves.

- David Orr

A brief History

Though these issues are getting a lot of press these days and the crisis has escalated to what many are referring to as of immediate concern and import, the issues have long been brewing. Those interested in environmental concerns have been arguing for many years that our time here on Earth is limited if certain measures - global-wide measures - are not taken.

In fact, in the 1700s, Benjamin Franklin and other Philadelphia residents urged the Pennsylvania Assembly to stop dumping waste and to close tanneries. In the 1800s, the concept of being close to nature became popular thanks to the efforts of John Muir and Henry David Thoreau.

Though the concepts weren't yet clearly defined, in 1949, "A Sand County Almanac" by Aldo Leopold was published; it has often been called the greatest worldwide influence on conservation.

The 1962 book "Silent Spring" by Rachel Carson, an American biologist, was one of the first intellectual examinations of our air quality. She examined the use of DDT spraying in the United States and questioned whether such indiscriminate spraying was appropriate without knowing the environmental consequences.

The resulting public concern arising out of Carson's claims led to the development of the Environmental Protection Agency. Within years, other "Earth friendly" groups were formed worldwide, including Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace.

All along, many scientists have been backing up this idea that the Earth's resources are being depleted, that we are not taking necessary measures to ensure that the Earth is habitable for future generations. Those "future generations" did refer to those in hundreds, or thousands, of years, but now refer to our grandchildren and their grandchildren.

Throughout the world, there have been environmental groups and efforts, including the Chipko movement in India (where the term "tree huggers" came from) and the efforts in London for hundreds of years to reduce smog.

The end result, however, is that we have now reached the stages where all these ideas - fewer pesticides, fewer vehicles, saving trees, returning to nature - must somehow be brought together into a cohesive, "let's save the Earth" philosophy.


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 By: Mohammed on Jan 1, 2020
  This is quite instructive and educating.
 By: Jessica on Jan 12, 2022
  I have the book silent spring I’m going to read it.

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