SJS / GreenPolicy Siterunner: The smog/air pollution in Los Angeles in the 1950s and 60s was described as the worst in the world. At the time, the rumblings of a new environmental movement were beginning to be felt and in California these leaders exerted great pressure on the president and Congress to clean up the air and water. The foundation of legislative initiatives were put in place as political representatives responded to popular demands.
President Nixon was an example of this movement in practice. California politicians were among the first to draft forward-looking laws and argue that the executive branch respond. The EPA was created out of multi agencies and the history of environmental protection began in earnest.
Via Popular Science -- In 1970, Republican President Richard Nixon signed an executive order creating the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It was a time when pollution made many of our nation's rivers and streams unsafe for fishing or swimming. Back then, New York City's air pollution was so thick that you often couldn't see the city's iconic bridges. Forty-seven years later, there is serious talk of dismantling the agency, or at least slashing its size by two-thirds. But what does America look like without the EPA?'
From 1971 to 1977 the nascent agency, in an act of prescience, enlisted the services of freelance photographers to help us remember. These photographers captured images of America's environmental problems before we'd cleaned them up. In 2011, the US National Archives digitized more than 15,000 pictures from the series "Documerica". Here are some of the most compelling.
Please read our series on the EPA past and present. It begins here. http://www.popsci.com/america-before-epa-photos
SJS / Siterunner: In the Green Party Platform of the US, as I was drafting in the mid-1990's, the thought was to find a way to deal with the economic problem of hidden, harmful costs of production/distribution supply chains and economics. True-price/full-cost accounting was a foundation concept on which we developed green ideas to deal with a wide-spectrum of environmental, green business challenges.
The smog in Los Angeles in the 1950's for example, which was as bad as any city internationally, had profound negative consequences, especially damaging children's health. The costs were significant and real, generational, as reduced lung capacity and in-air particulates led to a host of medical conditions. Political leaders like George Brown and Jerry Brown realized much was needed to be done and they went to work. I joined in, having opportunities to work with both men over the next decades. A high point was working directly with Jerry in the 1992 presidential campaign, especially on the campaign platform, a history-making challenge as we envisioned and pulled together the "We the People Platform-in-Progress"."
Update/LA Times-March 2015 -- SJS: "Clean air is good. Here's a tip of the cap to all who worked to make LA a model for clean air regs in CA, the nation, and green best practices that have been out in front, adopted by cities and states around the world... The kids and kid's health say Thanks!"
The beginnings of the US green movement in law and practice can be traced to the 60s/70s era and its green ideas, many of which came from California, and the subsequent foundation of environmental laws in California and the US.
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