I think we are living an important time. For me it’s useful to understand current priorities in the context of the history of environmentalism. That history can be summarized as three key periods:
ENVIRONMENTALISM 1.0 – UNDER THE RADAR
Recorded history does not include widespread concern about the impact of the human race on the earth’s natural processes, until the industrial revolution was in full swing in the 1800s. The earliest voices may have been taken seriously, but they seem to have had little effect on human behaviour.
ENVIRONMENTALISM 2.0 – DEBATE & STRUGGLE
From approximately 1960 until 2015, with world population growing from 3 billion to 7 billion people, concern about pollution became widespread. Governments all over the world passed laws. Thousands of environmental groups were formed. Scientists and environmentalists were releasing many more significant books and articles. Oil and coal companies used their great wealth to fight vigourously to confuse the issues and defend their dominant position in the global economy.
By the 2000s numerous alternative technologies had been proven to work and their cost became economically viable. In 2015 worldwide policymakers met in Paris and signed an accord that established climate change as one of the earth’s most pressing problems and our highest priority for coordinated international action.
ENVIRONMENTALISM 3.0 – SOLUTIONS
Today governments are intervening in the marketplace to help implement solutions and smooth the transition from our oil and coal based economy to a clean tech world. Scientists believe we must act quickly to avoid very serious effects from climate change. With 7.6 billion people, our planet is politically, economically and technologically diverse. We will need more than government intervention to meet the challenge. We will need to continue to work together, to ramp up our efforts, and to communicate about success stories and best practices.
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