820 C HAPTER 24 One American's Story Environmental Activism In 1972, Lois Gibbs and her family moved to Niagara Falls, New York. Underneath this quiet town, however, was a disaster in the making. In the 1890s, the Love Canal had been built to provide hydroelectric power for the Niagara Falls area. Chemical companies were dumping hazardous waste into the canal. In 1953, bulldozers filled in the canal. Shortly thereafter, a school and rows of homes were built nearby. In 1977, when Lois Gibbs’s son fell sick, she decided to investi- gate. She eventually uncovered the existence of the toxic waste and mobilized the community to demand government action. In 1980, President Carter authorized funds for many Niagara Falls families to move to safety. Years later, Lois Gibbs wrote a book detailing her efforts. A P ERSONAL V OICE LOIS GIBBS “ I want to tell you our story—my story—because I believe that ordinary citizens—using the tools of dignity, self-respect, common sense, and perseverance—can in ﬂ uence solutions to important problems in our society. . . . In solving any difficult problem, you have to be prepared to fight long and hard, sometimes at great personal cost; but it can be done. It must be done if we are to survive . . . at all. ” —Love Canal: My Story Lois Gibbs’s concerns about environmental hazards were shared by many Americans in the 1970s. Through the energy crisis, Americans learned that their natural resources were limited; they could no longer take the environment for granted. Americans—from grassroots organizations to the government—began to focus on conservation of the environment and new forms of energy. The Roots of Environmentalism The widespread realization that pollution and overconsumption were damaging the environment began in the 1960s. One book in particular had awakened POISONED PLAYGROUND Lois Gibbs and the Crisis at Love Canal Terms & Names Terms & Names MAIN IDEA MAIN IDEA WHY IT MATTERS NOW WHY IT MATTERS NOW • Rachel Carson • Earth Day • environmentalist • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) • Three Mile Island During the 1970s, Americans strengthened their efforts to address the nation’s environmental problems. The nation today continues to struggle to balance environmental concerns with industrial growth.
A America’s concerns about the environment and helped lay the groundwork for the activism of the early seventies. RACHEL CARSON AND SILENT SPRING In 1962, Rachel Carson , a marine biologist, published a book entitled Silent Spring . In it, she warned against the growing use of pesti- cides—chemicals used to kill insects and rodents. Carson argued that pesticides poisoned the very food they were intended to protect and as a result killed many birds and fish. Carson cautioned that America faced a “silent spring,” in which birds killed off by pesticides would no longer fill the air with song. She added that of all the weapons used in “man’s war against nature,” pesticides were some of the most harmful.
- Spring '12
- Three Mile Island, Three Mile Island accident, Mile Island