Environmental Movement Beginnings

Most of us know that the modern American environmental movement was very influenced by the book Silent Spring, but we may not know about an important Task Force Report from 1977: The Unfinished Agenda: The Citizen’s Policy Guide to Environmental Issues, A Task Force Report Sponsored by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, edited by Gerald O. Barney.

Here are the member organizations of the Task Force: National Resources Defense Council; Friends of the Earth; The Wilderness Society; Zero Population Growth; National Wildlife Federation; Massachusetts Audubon Society; The Nature Conservancy; Environmental Defense Fund; Izaak Walton League of America; National Parks and Conservation Association; National Audubon Society; Sierra Club.

To give you a sense of the rather vigorous top-down control direction the movement was taking even then, here are some excerpts.

Under the heading of National Planning:

Environmentalists see a need for better coordination of federal efforts to address the long-term national problems, including environmental concerns…it is recommended that:

A Presidential commission, including significant from active environmental organizations, be established promptly to investigate alternative ways and means through which a Planning Board can authoritatively raise long-term national questions which might be overlooked by the President or Congress.

The Planning Board will require a measure of independence from both the President and the Congress. Its members should be appointed by the President, with the advice and consent of the Senate, to terms commensurate with the long-term nature of the problems to be studied, namely 25 years or longer. Funding should be provided from Congress on a rolling five-year commitment so that at a minimum, there would be assured funding for an additional four-year period. Since the utility of the Planning Board would be severely reduced if it were unable to gain access to information, it should be given full subpoena powers, and the ability to enforce its subpoenas through the courts.

Two precedents exist for the kinds of tenure and quasi-independence suggested here. One is the Supreme Court, whose justices are appointed for life. The other is the Office of the Comptroller General of the General Accounting Office, a position of fifteen-year tenure. (pp. 136-137)

Under the heading of Educating the Public:

Recognizing the continuing influence of the television medium, environmentalists recommend that:

The Environmental Protection Agency, with support from the National Science Foundation, undertake to monitor and analyze the explicit and implicit environmental message contained in both the programming and commercials on television in the United States.

The analysis should document clearly what is being said about environmental issues, resource consumption, pollution, and lifestyles, and the implications for these concerns if the viewing audience follows the example set by the role-models on television. (p. 153)

Amazon has the book at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0690014821/sr=8-2-fkmr0/qid=1399392628/ref=olp_product_details?ie=UTF8&me=&qid=1399392628&seller=&sr=8-2-fkmr0

About David H Lukenbill

I am a native of Sacramento, as are my wife and daughter. I am a consultant to nonprofit organizations, and have a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Behavior and a Master of Public Administration degree, both from the University of San Francisco. We live along the American River with two cats and all the wild critters we can feed. I am the founding president of the American River Parkway Preservation Society and currently serve as the CFO and Senior Policy Director. I also volunteer as the President of The Lampstand Foundation, a nonprofit organization I founded in 2003.
This entry was posted in Environmentalism, History. Bookmark the permalink.