Since the first ever Earth Day celebration more than four decades ago, the environmental conservation movement has been one of the most important social movements of our time, showcasing our care for the world around us and our desire to give our children a better world than the one we were born into. But after so much progress and so much positive impact the movement has made on the world over the years, is it possible that the environmental conservation movement is dying out, and is it possible that it’s already over? (Our friends at Hunter Insight dont think it is)
Perhaps the biggest problem that the movement has is the issue of global climate change, which was once thought to be its biggest accomplishment. Scientific evidence that humans are causing global climate change that are causing temperatures and ocean levels to rise, throwing the world into chaos, and that only human action could reverse it was thought to be a rallying cry for the environmental conservation movement and something that could bring the world together. Instead, it’s become a fiercely contested political issue that has divided the public, not to mention lawmakers, into believers and non-believers. Global warming becoming such a partisan issue, especially among those with the power to create change, has in many ways stopped the environmental conservation movement dead in its tracks, halting progress and causing some to turn on those who continue to push for change.
Another issue that has been a huge detriment to the environmental conservation movement is the financial crisis that started last decade. The world economy being thrown into turmoil turned a great deal of attention away from the environment and toward what many people believed to be a more pressing issue, causing the environmental movement to lose momentum. Even with the economy stabilizing to a certain extent, it remains an area of concern and uncertainty for many, meaning that money, resources, and attention that could otherwise go to environmental causes is spent worrying about the economy, keeping the environmental conservation movement on the backburner.
Ironically, the success of the environmental conservation movement may have played a hand in its ongoing demise. The fact that there is an Earth Day every year and that the Environmental Protection Agency exists to take care of environmental issues makes it easier for people to forget the issues at hand and believe that there are others taking care of them. In a way, we’ve taken the environmental conservation movement further than most of us thought it would go when Earth Day first started decades ago, leading some to be content with the progress and unwilling to push for more. (We personally wonder if the downward trend in support for earth day looks to affect health of the population)
Clearly, the progress and the momentum built up by the environmental conservation movement over the past few decades has lost steam, but does that mean it’s over? Absolutely not. It’s certainly not a front-page issue, and that’s a problem, especially since at times it seems like only a catastrophe can bring it back to the forefront of people’s minds. But as long as Earth Day is on the calendar every year, as long as the EPA exists, and as long as there are people continuing to fight to bring awareness and change to environmental issues, the environmental conservation movement will never be over.