Green Issues and Debates: An A-to-Z Guide


Edited by: Howard S. Schiffman

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      About the Editors

      Green Series Editor: Paul Robbins

      Paul Robbins is a professor and the director of the University of Arizona School of Geography and Development. He earned his Ph.D. in Geography in 1996 from Clark University. He is the general editor of the Encyclopedia of Environment and Society (2007) and author of several books, including Environment and Society: A Critical Introduction (2010); Lawn People: How Grasses, Weeds, and Chemicals Make Us Who We Are (2007); and Political Ecology: A Critical Introduction (2004).

      Robbins's research focuses on the relationships between individuals (homeowners, hunters, professional foresters), environmental actors (lawns, elk, mesquite trees), and the institutions that connect them. He and his students seek to explain human environmental practices and knowledge, the influence nonhumans have on human behavior and organization, and the implications these interactions hold for ecosystem health, the local community, and social justice. Past projects have examined chemical use in the suburban United States, elk management in Montana, forest product collection in New England, and wolf conservation in India.

      Green Issues and Debates General Editor: Howard S. Schiffman

      Howard S. Schiffman is visiting associate professor of Environmental Conservation Education at New York University, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development, where he teaches courses in Contemporary Environmental Debates and Environmental Governance. He holds a B.A. from Boston University, a J.D. from Suffolk University Law School, an LL.M. (Master of Laws) from George Washington University Law School, and a Ph.D. from Cardiff University (Wales, UK). He began his career as a criminal defense lawyer, working for several years as a staff attorney with the Legal Aid Society of New York. Afterward, Schiffman served as the founding academic director of the NYU graduate program in Global Affairs. His book, Marine Conservation Agreements: The Law and Policy of Reservations and Vetoes, was published by Martinus Nijhoff-Brill and was featured as part of the Publications in Ocean Development Series. In 2010, Dr. Schiffman served as a Senior Fulbright Scholar at Waikato University Law School in New Zealand, where he researched the development of the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organization. Schiffman has authored numerous scholarly articles addressing marine conservation law and policy and is a corresponding editor with the Journal of International Wildlife Law and Policy. He is committed to environmental education as a tool to address conservation challenges.


      Debates over how best to provide for our needs while conserving the environment are not new. Even so, with the growing urgency of environmental problems and the promise of new technologies, these debates come into sharper focus. Biotechnology has the potential to transform modern living but at what cost? How long can we base our energy needs on fossil fuels? Why is it so hard to transition to renewable energy? Will we see a resumption of commercial whaling? Is organic farming truly a better option? Is carbon sequestration really a viable solution to ever-growing carbon dioxide buildup in the atmosphere? Should we value nature intrinsically as opposed to its use value to human beings? Any discussion of “Green Issues and Debates” requires the input of multiple disciplines. This final volume in the series addresses some of the more contentious environmental issues of our time, offering a variety of perspectives.

      The natural sciences, philosophy, political science, law, economics, international affairs, education, and other disciplines all have something to add in resolving the vital environmental questions of our age. To understand debates over energy, for example, one must understand not only certain technical aspects but also the economic and political interests present in the debate. To understand questions of animal ethics, it is not enough to understand a legal and regulatory framework, but also the value many assign to animals as a component of nature. In the many debates flowing from climate change, one must be able to navigate the perspectives of developed and developing countries and appreciate the genuine differences of opinion that exist in how best to address this key challenge to our environment.

      The friction between the needs of developing states to address poverty and lack of opportunity on the one hand, and sustainable policies promoting conservation of resources on the other, became apparent at the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm in 1972. At Stockholm, the Group of 77—the original number of developing countries that formed a negotiating bloc to represent the interests of those states—made a clear statement on the priority of developmental needs. This message would resonate for decades and would be addressed in virtually every major environmental initiative since Stockholm.

      Many environmentalists, admittedly many from developed countries, are uncomfortable compromising environmental agendas for the sake of economic developmental needs in the developing world. The uneasy fusion of environmental concerns with developmental needs labeled “sustainable development,” enshrined at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environmental and Development in Rio de Janeiro, has hardly resolved the issue. On the contrary, the goals of environmental conservation and economic development are often difficult, if not seemingly impossible, to reconcile. This friction runs through many debates today, including forestry, fisheries and agricultural policy, and of course, climate change.

      As everyone knows, not all environmental debates occur at the global level. Debates happen over whether or not to build a power plant in a neighborhood. Should water be diverted for irrigation? Should we tolerate higher levels of pollution from a factory, or the risk of an oil spill, if such commercial activity economically benefits the community? These debates, as well as global ones, reflect disagreements about particular values that must be understood and respected if workable solutions are to be found. In some cases, new, even yet-to-be discovered, technologies will overtake the debates discussed herein. In many more cases, however, it is important for observers of green debates to realize that technology by itself is not the sole solution. On the contrary, the history of scientific discovery teaches us that new technology brings new challenges and ultimately more debate. More importantly, science and technology will never release us from the commonsense realization that actions, and inactions, have consequences. Responsibility for the stewardship of Planet Earth remains with imperfect human beings.

      Environmental debates, global and local alike, will be with us far into the future, and there is no better resource to ensure a constructive process than a well-educated citizenship. This includes an understanding of the various interested parties to these debates, including environmental nongovernmental organizations and other nonprofits, corporations, government agencies, intergovernmental organizations, community groups, professional associations, private foundations, lobbyists, and individuals. Suspicions often run deep between these actors, and one must be vigilant to recognize the difference between zealous, yet scrupulous, advocacy and falsehood. One need only look at the evolution of the discourse on climate change to see that this is so.

      The many actors participating in environmental debates, as well as observers of those debates, must be well informed and appreciate the dizzying range of interests connected with modern environmental issues. Participants and observers must have the tools available to sift through competing claims, arguments, and counterarguments. This volume is dedicated to that ideal. Drawing on multiple themes and concepts introduced in the earlier volumes, Green Issues and Debates relates to many articles appearing throughout the series.

      To the extent urgency is expressed in the debates addressed in this volume, it is because nothing less is at stake than the continued viability of life on Earth. The need for drinkable water, breathable air, sufficient energy, robust ecosystems, and livable coastlines leaves little room for error as we seek solutions to environmental problems. Open, honest, educated, and fair-minded debate is a vital asset in the pursuit of those solutions.

      Howard S.SchiffmanGeneral Editor

      Reader's Guide

      (Volume numbers refer to previous volumes in the Green Society series. The articles listed within each of the preceding 11 volumes appear in this volume on Green Issues and Debates and are also discussed further in the corresponding volumes.)

      Volume I. Green Energy


      Carbon Sequestration

      Carbon Tax

      Carbon Trading/Emissions Trading


      Green Pricing

      Nuclear Power (Energy)


      Oil Sands

      Solar Energy (Cities)

      Wind Power

      Yucca Mountain

      Volume II. Green Politics



      Citizen Juries


      Common Property Theory


      Ecological Imperialism



      Environmental Justice (Business)

      International Whaling Commission (IWC)

      North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)

      North–South Debate

      Not in My Backyard (NIMBY)

      Precautionary Principle (Uncertainty)

      Resource Curse

      Skeptical Environmentalism

      Tragedy of the Commons


      Volume III. Green Food


      Animal Welfare


      Bacillus Thuringiensis (Bt)



      Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)



      Nanotechnology and Food

      Organic Farming


      Roundup Ready Crops

      Volume IV. Green Cities

      Sustainable Development (Business)


      Asthma (Cities)

      Biofuels (Cities)

      Carbon Trading (Cities)

      Green Jobs (Cities)


      Solar Energy (Cities)

      Sustainable Development (Cities)

      Volume V. Green Business

      Biofuels (Business)


      Brownfield Redevelopment

      Carbon Trading/Emissions Trading (Business)

      Certified Products


      Environmental Justice (Business)

      Green-Collar Jobs

      Socially Responsible Investing

      Sustainable Development (Business)

      Volume VI. Green Consumerism

      Carbon Emissions (Personal Carbon Footprint)

      Certified Products

      Ecolabeling (Consumer Perspective)

      Genetically Modified Products

      Kyoto Protocol

      Organic Consumerism

      Pesticides and Fertilizers (Home)

      Volume VII. Education

      Education, Federal Green Initiatives

      Education, State Green Initiatives

      Environmental Education Debate

      Green Community-Based Learning

      Sustainability in TV Shows

      Volume VIII. Ethics & Philosophy


      Animal Ethics

      Anthropocentrism Versus Biocentrism


      Environmental Justice (Ethics and Philosophy)

      Ethical Sustainability and Development

      Gaia Hypothesis

      Green Altruism

      Intergenerational Justice

      Intrinsic Value Versus Use Value

      Organic Trend

      Precautionary Principle (Ethics and Philosophy)

      Utilitarianism Versus Anthropocentrism

      Volume IX. Health

      Alternative Energy

      Antibiotic/Antibiotic Resistance


      Asthma (Health)

      Biological Control of Pests

      Genetically Engineered Crops

      Healthcare Delivery

      Health Insurance Reform

      Hydroelectric Power

      Nuclear Power (Health)

      Volume X. Technology

      Carbon Capture Technology

      Carbon Market

      Coal, Clean Technology


      Volume XI. Culture


      Corporate Social Responsibility

      Earth Liberation Front (ELF)/Animal Liberation Front (ALF)

      Green Anarchism

      Green Jobs (Culture)

      Individual Action Versus Collective Action

      Nongovernmental Organizations

      Organic Foods

      Social Action

      Veganism/Vegetarianism as Social Action

      List of Articles

      List of Contributors

      • Arnold, Jeffrey R.

        U.S. Army Engineer Institute for Water Resources

      • Bandyopadhyay, Kaushik Ranjan

        Asian Institute of Transport Development

      • Beck, Diana L.

        Knox College

      • Becker, Chad A.

        Indiana State University

      • Beder, Sharon

        University of Wollongong

      • Bellestri, Tani E.

        Independent Scholar

      • Boslaugh, Sarah

        Washington University in St. Louis

      • Bremer, Leah L.

        San Diego State University/University of California, Santa Barbara

      • Burns, William C. G.

        Journal of International Wildlife Law & Policy

      • Cameron-Glickenhaus, Jesse

        Independent Scholar

      • Dedekorkut, Aysin

        Griffith University

      • Denault, Jean-Francois

        Independent Scholar

      • Duffy, Lawrence K.

        University of Alaska, Fairbanks

      • Farley, Kathleen A.

        San Diego State University

      • Feldpausch-Parker, Andrea M.

        Texas A&M University

      • Fenner, Charles R., Jr.

        State University of New York, Canton

      • Giessen, Lukas

        University of Göttingen

      • Griffin, Mary Ruth

        Independent Scholar

      • Gunter, Michael M., Jr.

        Independent Scholar

      • Helfer, Jason A.

        Knox College

      • Hiner, Colleen C.

        University of California, Davis

      • Hurst, Kent L.

        Independent Scholar

      • Imran, Muhammad

        Massey University

      • Inkoom, Daniel Kweku Baah

        Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology

      • Jarvie, Michelle E.

        Independent Scholar

      • Kaur, Meera

        University of Manitoba

      • Khetrapal, Neha

        Indian Institute of Information Technology

      • Kirchhoff, Christine

        University of Colorado at Boulder

      • Kte'pi, Bill

        Independent Scholar

      • Lanfair, Jordan K.

        Knox College

      • Lepsoe, Stephanie

        Independent Scholar

      • Liss, Jodi

        Independent Scholar

      • Menard, Nicole

        Independent Scholar

      • Mukhopadhyay, Kausiki

        University of Denver

      • Mullaney, Emma Gaalaas

        Pennsylvania State University

      • Nash, Hazel

        Cardiff University

      • Neo, Harvey

        National University of Singapore

      • Ogale, Swati

        Independent Scholar

      • Pajewski, Amy

        Independent Scholar

      • Paul, Pallab

        University of Denver

      • Pearce, Joshua M.

        Queen's University

      • Reed, Matt

        Countryside and Community Research Institute

      • Richerson, Kate

        University of California, Santa Cruz

      • Rowe, Briony MacPhee

        Independent Scholar

      • Schneider, Jen

        Colorado School of Mines

      • Schroth, Stephen T.

        Knox College

      • Sekerka, Leslie E.

        Menlo College

      • Silva, Carlos Nunes

        University of Lisbon

      • Smith, Dyanna Innes

        Antioch University New England

      • Stancil, John L.

        Florida Southern College

      • Steffens, Ron

        Green Mountain College

      • Stimel, Derek

        Menlo College

      • Swanson, Barry L.

        Knox College

      • Trevino, Marcella Bush

        Barry University

      • Tucker, Corrina

        Independent Scholar

      • Turrell, Sophie

        Independent Scholar

      • Tyman, Shannon

        University of Washington

      • Vedwan, Neeraj

        Montclair State University

      • Vynne, Stacy Johna

        Independent Scholar

      • Wang, Yiwei

        University of California, Santa Cruz

      • Yovovich, Veronica

        University of California, Santa Cruz

      Green Issues and Debates Chronology

      12,000–6,000 B.C.E.: During the Neolithic Revolution, early humans learn to domesticate plants and animals, developing agriculture and the beginnings of settlements in the Fertile Crescent and Indus River Valley.

      1,000 B.C.E.: The first known consumption of fossil fuels occurs in China. Coal is unearthed and likely used to smelt copper in rudimentary blast furnaces.

      c. 500 B.C.E.: Athens, Greece, establishes what may have been the first city dump in the Western world, accompanied by a ban against throwing garbage into the streets.

      c. 1530: Commercial whaling begins as the Basques begin the pursuit of right whales in the North Atlantic, killing an estimated 25,000 to 40,000 whales over the next 80 years.

      1833: English chemist and meteorologist Luke Howard describes the “urban heat island” effect in The Climate of London, noting that the city “partakes much of an artificial warmth, induced by its structure, by a crowded population, and the consumption of great quantities of fuel.”

      1839: French physicist Becquerel discovers the photovoltaic effect, the process by which electromagnetic radiation is absorbed by matter, which in turn emits electrons, creating electricity.

      1862: With much of the agricultural south in the United States not voting because of the Civil War, the U.S. creates the Department of Agriculture, which assumes the responsibility of promoting agriculture production and the land grant university system.

      1863: The world's first subway opens in London, England.

      1867: Karl Marx writes of commodification in Das Kapital.

      1872: U.S. President Ulysses Grant signs a bill into law designating the area of Yellowstone as the world's first national park.

      1873: The first U.S. federal law against animal cruelty is passed. Called the “Twenty-Eight Hour Law,” it requires that “livestock transported across country be provided with water and rest at least once every 28 hours.”

      1878: C.V. Riley, an entomologist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, advocates the use of biological pest controls for farming, a method used today in organic farming.

      1882: The world's first hydroelectric power station, the Vulcan Street Power Plant, is built in Appleton, Wisconsin.

      1886: Swedish scientist Arrhenius speculates on the greenhouse effect and suggests that higher levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere trap solar radiation in the form of heat.

      1888: Charles F. Brush adapts the first large windmill to generate electricity in Cleveland, Ohio. Electricity-generating mills are coined “wind turbines.” General Electric later acquires Brush's company, Brush Electric.

      1890: The Sempervirens Club, California's oldest land conservation organization, is founded.

      1891: Baltimore inventor Clarence Kemp patents the first commercial solar water heater.

      1892: British reformer Henry S. Salt, a socialist, pacifist, and vegetarian, publishes a landmark work on animal welfare, Animal Rights Considered in Relation to Social Progress.

      1892: The Sierra Club is founded in the city of San Francisco by preservationist John Muir.

      1905: Upton Sinclair publishes his novel The Jungle in serial format in the socialist magazine Appeal to Reason. Public outcry over the filthy conditions of the meatpacking industry portrayed in this novel led to passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act in 1906.

      1906: U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt signs the Pure Food and Drug Act, effectively creating the Food and Drug Administration.

      1917: Article 27 of the Mexican constitution changes its land tenure forms, nationalizing many lands and subdividing many into a communal system of ejidos.

      1918: The Save the Redwoods League forms in the United States for the purpose of purchasing the remaining redwood forests, which have been extensively harvested for lumber.

      1920: In response to the perceived failures of existing federal laws to deal with mining of coal and oil resources, the United States passes the Mineral Leasing Act to regulate mining on public lands. The law governs deposits of coal, oil, gas, oil shale, phosphate, potash, sodium, and sulfur.

      1934: The Taylor Grazing Act establishes grazing districts on public lands that have formerly been unregulated and grants leases to individuals to use them. The fees are deliberately set low and in general remain lower today than the fees charged for comparable private grazing land.

      1939: Swiss chemist Paul Müller discovers that the synthetic chemical dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) is effective at killing insects. The chemical is widely used in the armed forces to control mosquitoes and lice and becomes popular in agriculture as well after World War II.

      1942: Jerome Irving Rodale begins publication of Organic Farming and Gardening, popularizing the concept of organic food production as advocated by the British writers Sir Albert Howard and Lord Northbourne.

      1946: The International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling holds its first meeting in Washington, D.C., and sets quotas for whaling that are intended to allow the whaling industry to continue at reduced levels so that whales are not hunted to extinction.

      1949: The International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling establishes the International Whaling Commission, which is intended to regulate whaling but has been beset by conflicts between nations with traditional whaling industries (e.g., Japan, Iceland, and Norway) and those that wish to impose a moratorium on all whaling.

      1952: London, England, experiences a thermal inversion in December, which combined with air pollution from automobiles, factories, and coal-burning furnaces, blankets the city in smog. The smog is believed to have caused about 3,000 deaths.

      1954: The introduction of highly industrialized fishing vessels into the codfish industry in the United States and Canada greatly increases the annual catch, causing a steady decline in the cod population to the point where, in 1977, it was determined that the number of spawning codfish off the coast of Newfoundland had decreased by 92 percent since 1962.

      1956: The first victims of Minamata disease, caused by alkyl mercury poisoning from eating contaminated fish, are identified in Japan. Victims suffer from neurological impairments, including retardation, contorted limbs, and sensory disturbances. The source of the contamination is traced to the Chisso Company, which had been dumping industrial pollutants into Minamata Bay on the west coast of Kyushu Island.

      1965: Scientist James Lovelock proposes the Gaia hypothesis.

      1968: Bowling Green State University's Center for Environmental Programs is established.

      1968: Garret Hardin publishes the Tragedy of the Commons in Science, which is widely cited by many environmentalists, but also criticized for its insistence that markets are the solution to all environmental problems.

      1970: The University of Colorado becomes the first college to establish an Environmental Center.

      1970: Norman Borlaug, father of the “green revolution,” which is credited with substantially increasing crop yield in the third world, wins the Nobel Peace Prize. Although few question that the green revolution saved millions of people from starvation, many particularly in more recent years have criticized Borlaug's reforms because they rely heavily on chemical fertilizers, irrigation, and seeds that must be purchased annually from multinational corporations or first-world research institutions, thus increasing corporate control of third-world agriculture and dependency on modern science.

      1970: The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is passed, requiring all federal agencies to compile and submit an Environmental Impact Statement.

      1971: Frances Moore Lappé publishes Diet for a Small Planet. Lappé advocates for the adoption of a vegetarian diet, both for reasons of health and because of the much greater resources required to produce meat rather than vegetables and grains.

      1972: The Environmental Protection Agency bans the use of DDT in the United States.

      1973: The Arab Oil Embargo begins as a response to the U.S. decision to supply the Israeli military during the Yom Kippur War.

      1973: Ernst Friedrich Schumacher's Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered criticizes the assumption that economic development requires adoption of large-scale Western technologies and a lifestyle based on acquisition of consumer goods.

      1973: Philosopher Arne Naess coins the term deep ecology to describe a philosophical orientation that focuses not only on reducing pollution but also recognizes that nature has a significant intrinsic value.

      1974: The U.S. Department of Energy forms a branch dedicated to national research and development of solar energy—the Solar Energy Research Institute.

      1975: The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), signed in 1973, comes into force. The convention's purpose is to end international trade in endangered or threatened animal and plant species or products made from them and requires signatories to implement domestic laws (such as the Endangered Species Act in the United States) to carry out the convention's principles.

      1975: Jim Hightower coins the term McDonaldization in his book Eat Your Heart Out and warns of the danger of international corporations such as McDonald's destroying local cuisines as well as driving small farms and restaurants out of business.

      1976: Wes and Dana Jackson found the Land Institute in Salina, Kansas, to develop sustainable agriculture practices. The institute includes both a school and an agricultural research station that investigate alternatives to industrial agricultural practices, such as monoculture and extensive use of pesticides and herbicides.

      1976: Bioethics professor Peter Singer publishes Animal Liberation: A New Ethics for Our Treatment of Animals.

      1977: The First Intergovernmental Conference on Environmental Education is held in Tbilisi, Georgia.

      1978: Supertanker Amoco Cadiz runs aground off the coast of France, emptying the entire cargo of 1.6 million barrels of oil into the water. The largest oil spill in history, it is estimated that $250 million in damages occurred.

      1979: A partial core meltdown occurs at the Three Mile Island nuclear generating station, releasing radioactive gases into the Pennsylvania air. This near-catastrophe draws attention to the dangers involved in nuclear power generation and halts construction of new nuclear power facilities in the United States.

      1980: Alex Pacheco and Ingrid Newkirk found People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to protect animal rights. Philosophers such as Tom Regan and Peter Singer heavily influence the PETA founders, in particular that their belief that “speciesism,” or the belief that man is superior to all other species, is incorrect.

      1983: The World Commission on Environment and Development, commonly known as the Brundtland Commission, is held.

      1984: An accident at a Union Carbide pesticide-producing plan in Bhopal, India, releases a toxic cloud of methyl isocyanate, causing more than 2,000 deaths immediately and at least 2,000 more in ensuing years.

      1985: A group of activists found the Rainforest Action Network in San Francisco, California, with the purpose of protecting the world's rainforests and the people who live in them from environmental destruction. Their first major action is a boycott of the American fast food chain Burger King, which at that time imported much of its beef from Central and South America, where rainforest destruction was hastened by the economic incentive of clearing the forest and turning it into grazing land for cattle.

      1985: Robyn Van En coins the term community-supported agriculture and establishes the first collective in the United States in Massachusetts. In this system, community members buy shares of a farmer's crops in advance and receive their portion of the crops, which are delivered as they are harvested. This shifts some of the risk of crop loss, as well as the benefits if a growing season is particularly productive, from the farmer to members of the collective.

      1986: Chernobyl, Ukraine, then part of the Soviet Union, becomes the site of the worst nuclear disaster in history.

      1986: The world's largest solar thermal facility is commissioned in Kramer Junction, California.

      1986: Arcigola Slow Food, the forerunner of the international Slow Food movement, is founded in Italy as a protest against standardized food produced by international corporations such as McDonald's as well as a celebration of local products and traditions.

      1986: Historian Alfred Cosby writes about ecological imperialism, describing how ecosystems were transformed through the colonization of the Americas.

      1987: The United Church of Christ Commission for Racial Justice issues a study demonstrating that the location of toxic waste sites is more closely related to the race of neighborhood residents than to either income or social class.

      1987: Burger King announces that it will no longer import beef from rainforest areas.

      1987: American activist Dave Foreman publishes Ecodefense: A Field Guide to Monkeywrenching, which advocates sabotage to prevent environmentally destructive development and other commercial activities. Many of Foreman's suggested tactics are illegal, including driving metal spikes into trees to prevent their being logged, sabotaging earth-moving equipment such as bulldozers, removing surveyor's stakes, and pulling down power lines. The book's title refers to The Monkey Wrench Gang, a 1975 novel by Edward Abbey, which called for individuals to take direct action to halt the destruction of wilderness.

      1988: Negative publicity about polluted beaches in New York and New Jersey leads to passage of the Ocean Dumping Ban Act, which takes force in 1991. The act prohibits dumping industrial waste and sewage sludge into the ocean and is more stringent than previous laws, which allowed some dumping as long as it did not seriously degrade the marine environment.

      1988: The Dutch development agency Solidaridad introduces fair-trade coffee in the Netherlands under the label “Max Havelaar” (referring to a fictional character who opposed exploitation of coffee pickers).

      1988: Ron Arnold and Alan Gottlieb publish The Wise Use Agenda, which states that the opposition of the Wise Use Movement in the western United States led to increased government regulation of commercial uses of public lands.

      1989: The worst oil spill in American history at the time occurs when the supertanker ship Exxon Valdez grounds on a reef and spills more than 11 million gallons of oil into Prince William Sound near Valdez, Alaska.

      1989: Kalle Lasn founds the Canadian advocacy group Adbusters, which popularizes “Buy Nothing Day,” corresponding to the biggest day of the U.S. holiday shopping season.

      1990: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves the Pfizer product Chy-Max chymosin, a genetically modified version of rennet used in cheese. Currently, 60 percent of U.S. cheeses are produced using genetically modified chymosins.

      1990: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) releases its first report on the status of climate science.

      1990: The Organic Foods Production Act, which sets national standards for the production, handling, and labeling of organic food, is passed.

      1991: The Flavr Savr tomato, the world's first genetically engineered food crop, is developed by Calgene and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

      1991: U.S. President George H. W. Bush incorporates the Solar Energy Research Institute into the new National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Its mission is to develop renewable energy and energy-efficient technologies and practices, advance related science and engineering, and transfer knowledge and innovations to addressing the nation's energy and environmental goals by using scientific discoveries to create market-viable alternative energy solutions.

      1992: Under President Clinton, the Energy Policy Act of 1992 is passed by U.S. Congress. It is organized under several titles enacting legislation on such subjects as energy efficiency, conservation, and management; electric motor vehicles; coal power and clean coal; renewable energy; alternative fuels; natural gas imports and exports; and various others. Among the new directives is a section that designates Yucca Mountain in Nevada as a permanent disposal site for radioactive materials from nuclear power plants. It also reforms the Public Utility Holding Company Act to help prevent an oligopoly and provide further tax credits for using renewable energy.

      1992: The Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro results in the document “Agenda 21,” which calls for national governments to adapt strategies for sustainable development and to cooperate with nongovernmental organizations and other countries in implementing them.

      1992: The Environmental Protection Agency introduces the voluntary Energy Star program to help consumers evaluate the energy efficiency of common products. Specific standards vary by product, but most Energy Star products represent an improvement of at least 20–30 percent in energy efficiency over the traditional version of the same product.

      1992: The European Union introduces the European Ecolabel to help consumers identify products—from paper to televisions to paint—that have relatively low impact on the environment over the life cycle of the product.

      1993: The U.S. Green Building Council is founded as a nonprofit trade organization that promotes self-sustaining building design, construction, and operation. The council develops the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system and organizes Greenbuild, a conference promoting environmentally responsible materials and sustainable architecture techniques.

      1993: U.S. President Bill Clinton's administration suggests a tax on energy consumption per British thermal unit (btu), which is widely criticized.

      1994: U.S. President Bill Clinton signs Executive Order 12898, requiring federal agencies to determine the impact that environmental degradation has on low-income communities.

      1994: The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) takes effect, and rebels in Chiapas, Mexico, choose the moment to launch their counterinsurgency to protest the impacts of NAFTA on rural and indigenous Mexico.

      1996: Monsanto plants the first commercial fields with the Roundup Ready soybean, the first widely adopted commercial genetically modified crop in the United States. The beans are engineered to resist the common herbicide glyphosate, which can therefore be sprayed on the fields without damaging the soybean crop. By 2009, more than 90 percent of soybeans grown in the United States are engineered to be herbicide resistant.

      1996: William Rees and Mathis Wackernagel develop the concept of the “ecological footprint,” which signifies all the resources used by a particular species, in their book Our Ecological Footprint: Reducing Human Impact on the Earth.

      1997: The term affluenza is introduced in a documentary of the same name to refer to a cycle the filmmakers see in contemporary Western society: the unbounded pursuit of material possessions that provide ever-decreasing satisfaction but produce the desire to accumulate still more goods.

      1997: The Fair-Trade Labeling Organizations International is founded in Germany with the goals of bringing together disparate fair-trade organizations and harmonizing standards for fair-trade certification.

      1997: The U.S. Department of Agriculture publishes draft rules for organic food production that include genetically modified organisms (GMOs), sewage sledge, and irradiation, drawing a significant amount of protest from consumers and food groups.

      1997: The Kyoto Protocol, an international agreement linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change that aims to reduce or prevent global warming, is adopted. Under the protocol, which goes into effect in 2005, most industrialized countries agree to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases. Some were given specific targets, and some were given the goal of reducing their emissions to 1990 levels, while others were allowed to reduce their levels. The protocol also allows countries to trade carbon emissions in order to meet their goals.

      1998: Great Britain announces that by 2008, more than 60 percent of new housing starts will be on brownfield grounds; that is, they will reuse previously developed lands, such as abandoned commercial developments, that are underutilized or neglected.

      1999: A study by Cone Millennial Cause finds that most (89 percent) of Americans age 13–25 would be willing to switch to a brand associated with a “good cause” and that many would prefer to work for a socially responsible company.

      2000: New York City introduces Green Building Tax Credits, which offer tax breaks to developers whose buildings meet energy efficiency standards.

      2000: The Biomass Research and Development Board is created as part of a U.S. Congress act attempting to coordinate federal research and development of bio-based fuels obtained by living (as opposed to long-dead fossil fuels) biological material, such as wood or vegetable oils. Biofuel industries begin to expand in Europe, Asia, and the Americas.

      2001: The U.S. Green Building Council founds the Green Building Certification Institute to certify Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) professionals who are qualified to evaluate the sustainability of buildings.

      2002: The Center for Food Safety publishes Fatal Harvest: The Tragedy of Industrial Agriculture, a collection of essays criticizing the effects of industrial agriculture, which is the norm in the United States, on the environment and on human health. Specific criticisms include overuse of pesticides, loss of topsoil, use of genetically engineered species, loss of agricultural diversity, and loss of family farms.

      2002: William McDonough and Michael Braungart popularize the term cradle to cradle, which was introduced by Walter Stahel in the 1970s. Cradle to cradle refers to the principle that companies should be responsible for recycling materials from their products after they are discarded.

      2004: Bjørn Lomborg writes The Skeptical Environmentalist.

      2005: NanoJury UK, a citizen jury debating the risks and merits of nanotechnology, offers a verdict on the technology's future.

      2005: The European Union Emission Trading Scheme, a carbon-trading scheme involving 25 of the then-27 European countries, officially begins.

      2005: In Lost Child in the Woods, Richard Louv coins the term nature deficit disorder to describe how children are developing behavioral problems as a result of spending less time outdoors than previous generations.

      2005: The Energy Policy Act is passed by U.S. Congress and signed into law by George W. Bush, making sweeping reforms in energy legislation, mostly in the way of tax deductions and subsidies. Loans are guaranteed for innovative technologies that avoid greenhouse gases, and alternative energy resources such as wind, solar, and clean coal production are given multimillion-dollar subsidies.

      2006: The United Nations releases a study showing that the U.S. meat industry has a larger impact on global warming than any other industry.

      2006: The New Oxford American Dictionary selects “carbon neutral” as its word of the year.

      2006: Walmart launches an initiative requiring its suppliers to reduce packaging to the lowest possible levels.

      2007: San Francisco, California, bans polystyrene foam (Styrofoam) containers for takeout food, requiring that containers used for that purpose be compostable or recyclable.

      2007: The College of the Atlantic announces that it will become the first “carbon-neutral” university.

      2007: The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 is passed by U.S. Congress and signed by George W. Bush. Its stated purposes are “to move the United States toward greater energy independence and security, to increase the production of clean, renewable fuels, to protect consumers, to increase the efficiency of products, buildings and vehicles, to promote research on and deploy greenhouse gas capture and storage options, and to improve the energy performance of the federal government,” as well as various other goals. Included in the new provisions is a requirement of government and public institutions to lower fossil fuel use 80 percent by 2020.

      2007: In the U.S. Supreme Court case Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency, the court rules 5–4 that the EPA has the legal authority to regulate the emission of heat-trapping gases in automobile emissions.

      2007: The state of California enacts laws that spur the creation of its Green Chemistry Initiative.

      2007: California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger establishes the low-carbon fuel standard, which aims to reduce the carbon intensity of fuels by 10 percent by 2020.

      2008: President George W. Bush signs the Higher Education Sustainability Act (HESA) into law.

      2009: Amid a global recession, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 is one of the inaugural acts signed by President Barack Obama. It makes provisions for job creation, tax relief, and infrastructure investment, but is also heavily focused on energy efficiency and science. Multibillion-dollar funding is appropriated toward energy-efficient building practices, green jobs, electric and hybrid vehicles, and modernizing the nation's electric grid.

      2009: President Barack Obama halts 20-year-old plans to make Yucca Mountain the national repository of nuclear waste.

      2010: Three administrative Nuclear Regulatory Commission judges ruled that President Barack Obama did not have the power to close the Yucca Mountain repository unilaterally. It ruled that doing so would require another act of Congress.

      2010: The largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history occurs as an explosion rocks the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, spilling approximately 35,000 to 60,000 barrels of oil per day into the Gulf of Mexico and severely harming the region's environment.

      March 2011: The nuclear debate is reignited around the world as a result of the Japanese nuclear emergency at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, which is located about 150 miles north of heavily populated Tokyo. The leak of radiation, brought on as a result of Japan's 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami, prompted safety reviews of nuclear power plants in China and the European Union. In the United States, President Barack Obama asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to do a “comprehensive review” of domestic plants in light of the events in Japan.

      DustinMulvaneyUniversity of California, Berkeley
    • Green Issues and Debates Glossary


      Air Pollution: Contaminants or substances in the air that interfere with human health or produce other harmful environmental effects.

      Alternative Energy: Energy from uncommon sources such as wind power or solar energy, not fossil fuels. Alternative energy is usually environmentally friendly.

      Anarchism: A nonhierarchical form of social relations that seeks to abolish the authority of the state and the power of large property owners.

      Anthropocentric: Literally, “human-centered.” Anthropocentrism is the belief, taken for granted in most cultures through most of human history and argued more explicitly by some schools of philosophy today, that humans are the figurative “center of the universe” and that ethical systems should thus be principally concerned with human benefit.

      Anthropogenic: Man-made; used especially to underscore the human origins of a substance or phenomenon, as in “anthropogenic climate change” or “anthropogenic toxic compounds.”


      Behavioral Change: As it affects energy efficiency, behavioral change is a change in energy-consuming activity originated by, and under the control of, a person or organization. An example of behavioral change is adjusting a thermostat setting or changing driving habits.

      Biodiversity: The total variety of life on Earth. Modern science considers biodiversity to be an inherently good thing for the ecosystem and for the loss of species and of species diversity to be an alarming consequence of environmental damage. From an evolutionary standpoint, genetic diversity—the diversity of genes within a species—is also especially important.

      Biomass: Any organic matter that is available on a renewable basis, including agricultural crops and agricultural wastes and residues, wood and wood wastes and residues, animal wastes, municipal wastes, and aquatic plants.

      Brownfields: Abandoned, idled, or underused industrial and commercial facilities/sites where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by real or perceived environmental contamination. They can be in urban, suburban, or rural areas. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Brownfields Initiative helps communities mitigate potential health risks and restore the economic viability of such areas or properties.


      Capitalism: A form of social relations in which markets are presumed to be the most efficient way of distributing goods or services.

      Carbon Footprint: A popular term describing the impact a particular activity has on the environment in terms of the amount of climate-changing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases it produces. An individual's carbon footprint is the amount of greenhouse gases that his or her way of life produces overall. It is also a colloquialism for the sum total of all environmental harm an individual or group causes over their lifetime. People, families, communities, nations, companies, and other organizations all leave a carbon footprint.

      Carbon Offsets: Financial instruments, expressed in metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, which represent the reduction of carbon dioxide or an equivalent greenhouse gas. Carbon offsets allow corporations and other entities to comply with caps on their emissions by purchasing offsets to bring their totals down to acceptable levels. The smaller voluntary market for carbon offsets exists for individuals and companies that purchase offsets in order to mitigate their emissions by choice. There is a great deal of controversy over the efficacy and truthfulness of the offsets market, which is new enough that, in a best-case scenario, the kinks have not yet been worked out, while in the worst-case scenario, it will turn out to be a dead end in the history of environmental reform.

      Carbon Sequestration: The process by which carbon is taken from the atmosphere and stored in a carbon sink using underground reservoirs or biomass.

      Certified Organic: Food products that meet or exceed standards set forth by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Organic Program (NOP). Products “made with organic ingredients” include 70 percent organic ingredients and cannot contain the organic label. “Organic” products must have at least 95 percent organic ingredients and may feature the USDA organic seal. “100% Organic” is the most stringent, but does not count water or salt.

      Clean Coal: This refers to coal burning that attempts to capture some of the resulting carbon emissions. Typically, clean coal power plants require 30 percent more energy to operate the carbon capture equipment.

      Climate Change: A term used to describe short- and long-term effects on Earth's climate as a result of human activities such as fossil fuel combustion and vegetation clearing and burning.

      Common Property: A property or resource whose use can exclude others from using it, though it is held in common by the public.

      Compost: A process whereby organic wastes, including food wastes, paper, and yard wastes decompose naturally, resulting in a product rich in minerals and ideal for gardening and farming as a soil conditioner, mulch, resurfacing material, or landfill cover. Consumers can make their own compost by collecting yard trimmings and vegetable scraps.

      Conservation: Preserving and renewing, when possible, human and natural resources.


      Dioxin: Any of a family of compounds known chemically as dibenzo-p-dioxins. Concern about them arises from their potential toxicity as contaminants in commercial products. Tests on laboratory animals indicate that it is one of the more toxic anthropogenic (man-made) compounds.


      Energy: The capability of doing work; different forms of energy can be converted to other forms, but the total amount of energy remains the same.

      Energy Star: A joint program formed between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy to identify and label high-efficiency building products.

      Entropy: A measure of the unavailable or unusable energy in a system; energy that cannot be converted to another form.

      Environmental Equity/Justice: Equal protection from environmental hazards for individuals, groups, or communities regardless of race, ethnicity, or economic status. This applies to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies and implies that no population of people should be forced to shoulder a disproportionate share of negative environmental impacts of pollution or environmental hazard due to a lack of political or economic strength levels.

      Epidemiology: Study of the distribution of disease, or other health-related states and events in human populations, as related to age, sex, occupation, ethnicity, and economic status in order to identify and alleviate health problems and promote better health.

      Ethics: The study of moral questions. Ethics can refer to specific types of ethics (such as applied ethics or medical ethics) or to specific systems of ethics (such as Catholic ethics or Marxist ethics). Though the religions of the world always include an ethical dimension to their belief systems, ethics and religion are not coequal, and the term secular ethics is sometimes used to describe systems of ethics that derive their conclusions from logic or moral intuition rather than from religious teachings or revealed truths. Secular ethics and religious ethics can and often do reach the same conclusions, and may do so by the same means; there are both secular and religious articulations of utilitarianism, for instance. Major types of ethics include descriptive ethics (which describes the values people live by in practice), moral psychology (the study of how moral thinking develops in the human species), and applied ethics (addressing the ethical concerns of specific real-life situations and putting ethics into practice).

      Exposure: The amount of radiation or pollutant present in a given environment that represents a potential health threat to living organisms.


      Fair Trade: A certification scheme that evaluates the economic, social, and environmental impacts of the production and trade of agricultural products, in particular coffee, sugar, tea, chocolate, and others. Fair trade principles include fair prices, fair labor conditions, direct trade, democratic and transparent organizations, community development, and environmental sustainability.

      Farmers Market: Farmers markets are where local farmers gather to sell their produce or specialty goods in a specific place at a designated time. All food bought at a farmers’ market is probably not produced using green or organic practices, but in general, the selection of organic food is broader than at a supermarket.

      FSC Certification: The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an international nonprofit organization promoting responsible stewardship of the global forests. FSC certifies forests and forest products that fulfill its requirements for responsible forest stewardship.

      Fugitive Emissions: Emissions not caught by a capture system.


      Genetic Engineering: The manipulation of an organism's genome by recombining rDNA from one or more organisms.

      Geothermal Energy: Any and all energy produced by the internal heat of the Earth.

      Greenhouse Effect: The warming of Earth's atmosphere attributed to a buildup of carbon dioxide or other gases. Some scientists think that this buildup allows the sun's rays to heat Earth, while making the infrared radiation atmosphere opaque to infrared radiation, thereby preventing a counterbalancing loss of heat.

      Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Any emissions that are released by humans (though naturally occurring in the environment), mainly through the combustion of fossil fuels. These emissions have a warming potential as they persist in the atmosphere, contributing to the greenhouse effect.

      Green Job: Broadly defined as a job that contributes to improving environmental quality.

      Green Purchasing: The practice of selecting products and services that minimize the ecological impact of an individual's or organization's day-to-day activities. Many organizations implement a green purchasing policy with guidelines for purchasing agents to select the “greenest” products and services available.

      Greenwashing: A marketing ploy for businesses to jump onto the green movement bandwagon. They are not genuinely interested in sustainability, but are simply trying to improve their standing with the public by paying lip service. A company interested in “going green” for public relation reasons is greenwashing.


      Hybrid Vehicle: Vehicles that use both a combustible form of fuel (gasoline, ethanol, and so forth) and an electric motor to power them. Hybrid vehicles use less gasoline than traditional combustion engines, and some even have an electric plug-in to charge the battery.


      Irradiation: Exposure to radiation of wavelengths shorter than those of visible light (gamma, x-ray, or ultraviolet), for medical purposes, to sterilize milk or other foodstuffs, or to induce polymerization of monomers or vulcanization of rubber.


      LD 50/Lethal Dose: The dose of a toxicant or microbe that will kill 50 percent of the test organisms within a designated period. The lower the LD 50, the more toxic the compound.

      LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design): Responsible for creating the Green Building Rating System that encourages and accelerates global adoption of sustainable green building and development practices through the creation and implementation of universally understood and accepted tools and performance criteria.

      Life Cycle of a Product: All stages of a product's development, from extraction of fuel for power to production, marketing, use, and disposal.

      Lifetime Exposure: Total amount of exposure to a substance that a human receives in a lifetime (usually assumed to be 70 years).

      Lowest Acceptable Daily Dose: The largest quantity of a chemical that will not cause a toxic effect, as determined by animal studies.


      Megawatt: One thousand kilowatts, or 1 million watts; standard measure of electric power plant generating capacity.

      Moral Relativism: The acknowledgment that different cultures have different moral standards. There are various levels of moral relativism, from the weak descriptivist articulation that simply acknowledges and describes those differences, to the normative position that says that there is no universal moral standard, only culturally derived morals. Moderate positions often propose that there are certain key moral standards that form a universal ethical core, such as taboos on murder, incest, or parental neglect. The question of which moral standards are universal becomes important when cultures deal with one another, and when international bodies mediate between them. Most differences are not about matters as obvious or seemingly clear-cut as murder, but may instead bear on matters of justice, or on the distribution of responsibility. The questions of who has the responsibility to do something about climate change, or of the ethical importance of avoiding polluting behaviors, vary widely around the world. The opposite of relativism is universalism.


      Nanotechnology: The manipulation of matter at the nano-scale, typically 100 nanometers or less. Some nanoparticles have been suggested to have adverse impacts on human or animal health.

      Net Metering: A method of crediting customers for electricity that they generate on-site in excess of their purchased electricity consumption. Customers with their own generation offset the electricity they would have purchased from their utility. If such customers generate more than they use in a billing period, their electric meter turns backward to indicate their net excess generation. Depending on individual state or utility rules, the net excess generation may be credited to the customer's account (in many cases at the retail price), carried over to a future billing period, or ignored.

      Net-Zero Energy: Characteristic of a building that produces as much energy as it consumes on an annual basis, usually through incorporation of energy production from renewable sources such as wind or solar.

      NGO: A nongovernmental organization is an institution operating independently from government that does not function as a private business. Also known as civil society organizations, these groups typically act in the public interest or toward some broader political, cultural, or social goals.

      NIMBY: An acronym for “not in my backyard” that identifies the tendency for individuals and communities to oppose the placing of noxious or hazardous materials and activities in their vicinity. It implies a limited or parochial political vision of environmental justice.

      North–South: A model of the world that contrasts the industrialized, developed, wealthy countries of the global north with the developing, poorer countries of the global south. Geography here is partially figurative, with Australia and New Zealand included in the global north, and a number of African, Middle Eastern, and Asian nations in the northern hemisphere included in the global south. The term became popular in the wake of the Cold War, when a new way of distinguishing between the developed (first and second worlds) and developing (third world) was desired. However, while there are many political and cultural ties between the nations of the global north, the global south—much like the third world—is varied enough to invite criticism of the model's accuracy and usefulness.


      Pacific Gyre: Otherwise known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, it is a gyre of small bits of marine garbage, including chemical sludge and pelagic plastic, thought to be larger than the state of Texas.

      Persistent Toxic Chemicals, Persistent Pollutants: Detrimental materials, like styrofoam or DDT, that remain active for a long time after their application and can be found in the environment years, and sometimes decades, after they were used.

      Photochemical Smog: Air pollution caused by chemical reactions of various pollutants emitted from different sources.

      Planned Obsolescence: The art of making a product break or fail after a certain amount of time. The failure of the product does not occur in a period of time that you will blame the manufacturer, but soon enough for you to buy another one and make more profit for the manufacturer.

      Political Ecology: A field of research concerned with the relationship of systems of social and economic power to environmental conditions, natural resources, and conservation.

      Pollution: Generally, the presence of a substance in the environment that, because of its chemical composition or quantity, prevents the functioning of natural processes and produces undesirable environmental and health effects. Under the Clean Water Act, for example, the term has been defined as the man-made or man-induced alteration of the physical, biological, chemical, and radiological integrity of water and other media.

      Pollution Prevention: Identifying areas, processes, and activities that create excessive waste products or pollutants in order to reduce or prevent them through alteration or eliminating a process. Such activities, consistent with the Pollution Prevention Act of 1990, are conducted across all U.S. Environmental Protection Agency programs and can involve cooperative efforts with such agencies as the Departments of Agriculture and Energy.

      Polychlorinated Biphenyls: A group of toxic, persistent chemicals used in electrical transformers and capacitors for insulating purposes, and in gas pipeline systems as a lubricant. The sale and new use of these chemicals, also known as PCBs, were banned by law in 1979.

      Power: Energy that is capable or available for doing work; the time rate at which work is performed.

      Precautionary Principle: A philosophy that states that policymakers should not wait for scientific proof of harmful effects before taking steps to limit harmful environmental and human health impacts from new products or activities. Specific areas of application include genetically modified food products and chemicals that may have harmful developmental effects in low doses.


      Radioactive Waste: Any waste that emits energy as rays, waves, streams, or energetic particles. Radioactive materials are often mixed with hazardous waste, from nuclear reactors, research institutions, or hospitals.

      Recycling: The process by which materials that would otherwise become solid waste are collected, separated or processed, and reused in the form of raw materials or finished goods.

      Risk: A measure of the probability that damage to life, health, property, and/or the environment will occur as a result of a given hazard.

      Risk Assessment: Qualitative and quantitative evaluation of the risk posed to human health and/or the environment by the actual or potential presence and/or use of specific pollutants.


      Semiconductor: Any material that has a limited capacity for conducting an electric current.

      Smog: Air pollution typically associated with oxidants. The word is a portmanteau of “smoke” and “fog.”

      Sustainability: To give support or relief to, to carry, to withstand, or to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their needs.

      Sustainable Seafood: The act of not overfishing, which causes the possibility of extinction or adverse effects on a habitat.


      Toxicity: The degree to which a substance or mixture of substances can harm humans or animals.

      Turbine: A device for converting the flow of a fluid (air, steam, water, or hot gases) into mechanical motion.


      U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA): Established by President Abraham Lincoln in 1862, the USDA is an umbrella organization encompassing all aspects of farming production that has executive and legislative authority to ensure food safety and protect national resources. Active operating units include the National Organic Program, Agricultural Resource Service, Food Safety and Inspection Service, Risk Management Agency, and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.


      VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds): Gases emitted from liquid or solid substances that may cause short-term and long-term harmful health effects. Examples of products containing VOCs include paints and lacquers, paint strippers, cleaning supplies, pesticides, building materials and furnishings, office equipment such as copiers and printers, correction fluids and carbonless copy paper, graphics and craft materials including glues and adhesives, permanent markers, and photographic solutions.


      Water Pollution: Includes chemicals and debris that render water unusable for natural habitat, human consumption, and recreation.

      Watershed Approach: A coordinated framework for environmental management that focuses public and private efforts on the highest-priority problems within hydrologically defined geographic areas, taking into consideration both ground and surface water flow.

      Wildlife Refuge: An area designated for the protection of wild animals, within which hunting and fishing are either prohibited or strictly controlled.

      Dustin Mulvaney University of California, Berkeley

      Sources: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (, U.S. Energy Information Administration (

      Green Issues and Debates Resource Guide


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      Fitzpatrick, Kevin and Mark LaGory. Unhealthy Places: The Ecology of Risk in the Urban Landscape. London: Routledge, 2000.

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      Advances in Energy Research

      Animal Science Paper and Review

      Annual Review of Phytopathology

      Biocontrol Science and Technology

      Biological Conservation

      Biological Control

      Biomass and Bioenergy

      Energy Policy

      Environmental Economics

      Environmental Science & Technology

      Environment and Behavior

      Ethical Corporation

      The European Journal of Public Health

      European Physical Journal Special Topics

      International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment

      Issues in Legal Scholarship

      Journal of Consumer Behavior

      Journal of Ecology and Natural Environment

      Journal of Environmental Economics and Management

      Journal of Environmental Engineering

      Journal of International Biotechnology Law

      Journal of International Wildlife Law & Policy

      Journal of Invertebrate Pathology

      Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

      Journal of Phycology

      Nature Geoscience

      New Phytologist

      New Scientist

      The Plant Cell

      Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems


      Trends in Ecology and Evolution

      Vermont Journal of Environmental Law

      Biomass Energy Resource Center
      Carbon Tax Center
      Carbon Trade Watch
      Environmental Protection Agency
      European Sustainable Investment Forum
      Industry and Technology: EU Ecolabel
      United Nations Environment Programme
      United Nations 2015 Millennium Development Goals
      Yale Environment 360: Opinion, Analysis, Reporting & Debate

      Green Issues and Debates Appendix

      Carbon Tax Center

      This website was created to publicize and support the work of the Carbon Tax Center, a nonprofit nongovernmental organization founded in 2007 by Charles Komanoff and Daniel Rosenblum and headquartered in New York City. The website collects information about carbon taxation and its alternatives (e.g., a cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions or government subsidy of alternative fuels) and advocates for adoption of a carbon tax (or carbon fee: basically a tax imposed on fuels according to their carbon content) in the United States. The website explains in basic terms what a carbon tax is and why some feel it is the best alternative to achieve the goals of reducing U.S. carbon emissions and thus the U.S. contribution to global warming. The website includes numerous documents and multimedia materials supporting this point of view, information about current carbon taxes in the United States and globally, information about local initiatives, and a digest of links to news items related to global warming and carbon taxation.

      Clean Energy

      This website is run by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that provides information about Clean Energy Programs run by the EPA as well as basic information such as the impact of different methods of energy generation on the environment. EPA Clean Energy Programs covered on this website include the Combined Heat and Power Partnership, the Green Power Partnership, the State and Local Climate and Energy Program, and the Energy Star program. Tools available on the website include the Waste Energy Recovery Registry, a database of clean energy resources, the searchable eGRID database that has information about greenhouse gas emissions by ZIP code, a calculator to move between different measures of greenhouse gases (for instance, 1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions is the same as the greenhouse gas emissions produced annually by 183,000 passenger vehicles or the electricity use of 110,095 homes), the Rapid Deployment Energy Efficiency toolkit that contains design and implementation guides for 10 energy efficiency programs, and downloadable information comparing historical and projected costs of various types of wind, solar photovoltaic, solar thermal, and geothermal energy technologies.

      European Sustainable Investment Forum

      This is the website of Eurosif, a pan-European not-for-profit organization whose mission is to address sustainability through financial markets. Eurosif was founded by national social investment forums from five European nations (France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom) and includes affiliates such as pension funds, financial service provides, academic institutes, nongovernmental organizations, and research associations. The organization's activities include lobbying, research, initiatives such as trustee education and guideline development and organization, and participation in European and international events. The website includes basic information about socially responsible investment, resources for socially responsible investment in 13 European countries, press releases and press contact information, news relating to socially responsible investment, and information about upcoming events. Many publications and multimedia resources relating to socially responsible investment are available on the website that are organized by content area (e.g., biodiversity, green real estate, safety in the workplace) and investment sector (e.g., banking, real estate, hotel, and tourism).

      Industry and Technology: EU Ecolabel

      This website is available in all European Union (EU) languages and is run by the European Commission on the Environment about the EU licensing Ecolabel scheme, begun in 1992, which is intended to recognize environmentally friendly products across all product classes (as opposed to schemes devoted to one class of product such as footwear or laundry detergents) or that are specific to a single country or small group of countries (e.g., the Nordic Swan, the Blue Angel). The website explains how the Ecolabel application and licensing process works, what the Ecolabel means, and its relationship to similar schemes. The website includes a searchable list of companies that produce products that carry the Ecolabel and a searchable catalog of Ecolabel products by country, product or service category, manufacturer or service provider, and retail source. The website also includes statistical information about the EU Ecolabel (e.g., the number of licenses awarded annually and the distribution of licenses among product groups, information about the Green Public Procurement process, information about carbon footprinting in general and with regard to the Ecolabel, and links to relevant legal documents and reports and studies).

      United Nations 2015 Millennium Development Goals

      This website of the United Nations (UN) is dedicated to the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) established in September 2000 with the goal of reducing extreme global poverty by 2015. There is a separate section for each of the eight goals (End Poverty and Hunger, Universal Education, Gender Equality, Child Health, Maternal Health, Combat HIV/AIDS, Environmental Sustainability, Global Partnership), and each includes details on specific measurable targets for each goal and news about the goal, including progress toward meeting the goal. For instance, under Environmental Sustainability, there are four targets that specifically address sustainable development and environmental protection, reduction in biodiversity loss, increasing access to safe drinking water and sanitation, and achieving significant improvements in the lives of slum dwellers. The website includes links to media contacts and UN Partners on the MDGs (e.g., the World Bank, the World Health Organization, and the United Nations Children's Fund), annual reports on the MDGs, links to statistics relevant to the MDGs, and press releases.

      Yale Environment 360: Opinion, Analysis, Reporting, and Debate

      This website is an online magazine published by the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies that aggregates information about global environmental issues. The website includes news, analysis, and feature and opinion articles written specifically for the magazine as well as a daily digest of environmental news with links to the sources (newspapers and magazine, press releases, etc.); multimedia content (e.g., a 20-minute video on mountaintop removal mining in Appalachia); and links to other sources of information about the global environment. Information is organized by department (opinion, reports, analysis, interviews, e360 digest, and video reports), topics (biodiversity, business and innovation, climate, energy, forests, oceans, policy and politics, pollution and health, science and technology, sustainability, and water), and regions (Antarctica and the Arctic, Africa, Asia, Australia, Central and South America, Europe, Middle East, and North America). Website content is also available for mobile devices and as an RSS feed.

      SarahBoslaughWashington University in St. Louis
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