Also known as environmentalism, the green movement is a social, political and ethical effort to improve and protect the quality of the natural environment by pushing for change in human activity. Environmentalists are educators, lobbyists and activists who work to protect and preserve natural resources and ecosystems.

They might seem like modern problems, but environmental issues have existed throughout history. Air pollution, smog, CO2 levels, water pollution, timbering, soil conservation and lead poisoning date back to ancient civilization.


It wasn’t until the 1960s, though, that the modern green movement began with the release of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. The main concerns surrounded air and water pollution, and then expanded to include all landscapes and human activities. Symbolic and disturbing, rivers were set ablaze in an effort to show how polluted the Earth was.


The 1970s were a decade of awareness and cleanup in the U.S. The Environmental Protection Agency formed. Catalytic converters on cars began to reduce air pollution. Water pollution decreased through large-scale sewage treatment expansion programs. This helped clean up many rivers that were used as sewers, but did not completely eliminate discharges. Toxic chemicals came to the forefront, as well as nuclear power and the energy crisis.


In the 1980s, the emergence of the sustainability movement drew attention to the Gaia Theory, which offers insight into climate change, energy, health, agriculture and related environmental issues. The theory suggests that the living organisms and their inorganic surroundings on Earth have evolved together as a single living system. It’s a compelling way of understanding life on our planet.


In recent years, the public has grown more aware of environmental issues. Concepts such as sustainability, ozone depletion, global warming, acid rain and biogenetic pollution are more commonly discussed as environmental studies have grown.

Today, the environmental movement is typically categorized in four groups: science, activism, advocacy and justice. Growing numbers of communities are working as a whole to create more sustainable cities and living environments. The choice to be green is simple and efficient.