The global ecology movement is one of several new social movements that emerged at the end of the sixties; as a values-driven social movement, it should be distinguished from the pre-existing science of ecology. The movement's growth has been stimulated by a widespread acknowledgement of an ecological crisis of our planet. Its story has run alongside the environmental narratives that have reached popular consciousness. From the conservation movement at the beginning of the 20th century, then with concern in the sixties about chemical pesticides, the ecological movement was born with Rachel Carson's Silent Spring. There was a great deal of concern over nuclear weapons and nuclear power in sixties and seventies, then there was acid rain in the eighties, ozone depletion and deforestation in the nineties, and now climate change is the biggest concern for many. As well as the bigger global issues like these and species extinction, the ecology movement also encompasses any group wishing to protect the environment.
The ecology movement has evolved and branched out to different means of effecting change. There is the political branch with the Green parties. Organisations like Greenpeace were more radical, taking direct action against environmental destruction. Its views on people, behaviors, events centered around the political and lifestyle implications of the science of ecology and the idea of nature as a value in itself. "Ecology movement" is an umbrella term for different groups, ideologies and attitudes.
Looking under the umbrella
Today the term "ecology movement" is associated often with the more moral, more confrontational, and more rigorous stance taken by Greenpeace and other even more radical NGOs, e.g. Earth First, Earth Action, Sea Shepherd, in favor of the Precautionary Principle and strong fundamental preventive measures for biosafety, biosecurity and biodiversity. The methods of these groups often involve the idea of Direct action.
A radical wing of the ecology movement opposes and actually sabotages or destroys infrastructural capital of what they deem to be "Earth rapist" activities. This includes the Anarchist Golfing Association and the Earth Liberation Front, which are sometimes accused of terrorism. Even though no physical harm has come to an animal or human being, they have inflicated large economic losses on many economies. Their acts include the fire-bombing of a Forestry Service installation in Erie, Pennsylvania. Very few in the ecology movement would accept doing bodily harm by non-legal means to achieve their goals - they have no organized presence and are rejected by almost all players in the ecology movement. Some who hold property damage and bodily harm in moral equivalence, may reject this distinction, e.g. the US FBI which has labelled the Earth Liberation Front as a "terrorist group" (although the U.S. Department of Defense does not).
On the other side of the spectrum, there are individuals and groups that believe in either a more political-lobbyist or more scientific than activist approach.
At least since the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit in 1992, the discussion about sustainable development and sustainability has surfaced and partly replaced older ecological oriented ideologies. This and the establishment of a global anti-globalization movement in the late 1990s can be seen as follow-ups to the ecological movement. (See Rio Declaration on Environment and Development.)
- Critique of technology
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- Environmental movement
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- Simple living
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- Timeline of environmental events
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