In a handful of paragraphs, Emma Foehringer Merchant lullingly captures the past few decades of the environmental movement in her New Republic article below. How our 21st century, broad-based environmental movement, filled with a diverse set of colors and voices, has come to be is quite incredible given its fractured history. The term "environmentalist" used to conjure up images of disheveled hippies on the fringe, but no longer is this the case. Now, business executives, professors, leaders of faith, communities and health professionals alike are coming together to call for greener options that will improve the potential for our healthy future.
"Diversity of ideals has fractured not a few movements, but for environmentalism, different approaches have proven effective attacking a complex issue. These days, too, the lines dividing goals and tactics are losing their rigidity, and environmental groups have worked to present a more unified front."
Speaking of a unified front, Climate for Health is proudly composed of healthcare professionals working to address climate goals across the board. Calling all psychologists, cardiologists, public health professors and a wide array of other specialties in the sector - join our green team. The time has come.
By Emma Foehringer Merchant I November 29, 2015
On April 22, 1970, 20 million people joined rallies across the United States to celebrate the first Earth Day. One-hundred thousand people in New York City joined in what The New York Times called “an ecological carnival,” swarms overtook the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and schools in small towns held trash pick-ups. When the fanfare subsided, the grassroots show of support was a boon to environmental groups, who saw their membership surge 38 percent between 1969 and 1972. Major organizations like the Sierra Club grew in stature and quickly assumed the mantle of the environmental movement in Washington. And for the past 50 years, the mainstream portrait of the environmental movement has been dominated by large organizations lobbying officials and advocating legislative change in the nation’s capital.
Media coverage and popular opinion often paid little mind to frontline and indigenous groups quietly fighting power plants, polluters, or land appropriators in their own communities. This limited view has always been damaging to the movement, as was apparent even back in 1970. On CBS News, Walter Cronkite spoke bluntly. “By one measurement, Earth Day failed,” he said following the marches. “It did not unite. Its demonstrators were predominantly young, predominantly white.” After its first celebration, Earth Day became emblematic of the modern environmental movement, and its narrow symbolism—which left little room for the communities most affected by environmental ills—would continue to haunt the movement’s progress.
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