And What If I Spoke of Despair Historical Context

Ellen Bass
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Environmentalism

Although environmentalism had existed in one form or another for centuries, environmental consciousness as we know it today did not happen until the late 1980s and early 1990s, thanks in large part to a number of high-profile environmental incidents. In 1985, French government agents sank the Rainbow Warrior, the flagship of the nonviolent, environmental pressure group, Greenpeace, in Auckland Harbor, New Zealand. The same year, British meteorologists confirmed their earlier suspicion that humans' use of certain chemicals had created a hole in Earth's ozone layer over Antarctica. The 1989 Exxon Valdez oil tanker spill, however, was the incident that really galvanized the public. On March 24, the tanker crashed into an underwater reef, dumping more than ten million gallons of oil into the pristine waters of Alaska's Prince William Sound. Shortly after this accident, the media began to cover all environmental issues, including pollution, deforestation, acid rain, the widespread use...

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This section contains 499 words
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Poetry for Students
And What If I Spoke of Despair from Poetry for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.