Environmental Movements

Environmental Movements


The relationship between human and nature has continued from past to present, and nature has always been significant for human. All living beings including man and the environment are affecting each other in a number of ways and there is a dynamic equilibrium existing between them which passes with changing generations (Kaur, 2022, p. 1). For early humans, nature was unknowable, open to discovery, but the discovery achieved today has been a disappointment for nature. The primitive man was forced to nature for the continuation of his/ her life and therefore it took time for homo- erectus to discover nature. Nature, which was discovered with industrialization, increase in population, urbanization and globalization, has been damaged by human hands. Global environmental changes—including urbanization, the spread of invasive species, and, in particular, the impacts of climate change—have become important issues for environmental ethics, in some cases leading environmental ethicists to rethink their prioritization of environmental values (Palmer, McShane, & Sandler, 2014, p. 435). With technology, natural resources have been damaged and the ecological balance has been disrupted. Human has become a threat to nature.  As a result of these negative developments, the damage caused by human to nature has been realized and has formed today’s environmental consciousness. The basis of environmental awareness is that people are worried about the future. “Word Spy” is a web page in new media that contains the meanings of today’s terms and reflects the word eco-anxiety as environmental concerns. Word Spy defines eco-anxiety as: “Worry or agitation caused by concerns about the present and future state of the environment”.

The United Nations, which tries to make it is voices heard about nature and wants to raise awareness, declared World Environment Day in 1972. Various environmental organizations such as Greenpeace, Sierra Club and Friends of the Earth also work to raise environmental awareness. In order to reduce the negative effects of industrialization, nature-conscious groups have also started various movements to increase this consciousness.  They have want to give a voice to the world we live in and it is one of it is main objectives to minimize the transformation of environmental problems into de facto problem. Social problems have changed with globalization and this change has brought about a change in social movements. Based on this the sensitivity given to the environment related to it has constantly changed and the environmental movements have been shaped accordingly. Environmental ethics, which is a new concept today, has been one of the concepts that are constantly changing and shaped.

Environmental Ethics

Environmental ethics is the study of ethical questions raised by human relationships with the nonhuman environment (Palmer, McShane, & Sandler, 2014, p. 420). People who unconsciously consume environmental resources to meet their various needs cause irreversible damage to nature. The disappearances of certain animals and plants indicates biodiversity disturbances and relates to changes of people’s perceptions or view on environment ethics because they pursue and consider the economic value merely for human benefits (Retnowati, Anantasari, Marfai, & Dittmann, 2014, p. 790). This pressure on nature in the globalizing world order has caused various reactions. When human beings see that the consequences of the damages caused to nature will affect them, they have gained a consciousness of nature. Environmental ethics emerged in the 1970s and have been different collective representations of different societies until today. Basically, it is possible to see that the issue is again based on human ethics.  Environmental ethics believe that humans are a part of society as well as other living creatures, which includes plants and animals (Verma, 2019, p. 3). The anthropocentric ethical understanding that thinks that environmental elements are for human beings has been lacking in environmental awareness. The concept of ethics has always been significant for societies and has been shaped by various thoughts about the environment. The fact that the lifestyles of individuals affect the ecological balance is significant in the formation of environmental problems. Environmental negativities have worried people and the awareness that they are responsible for the environment has begun to develop. The global climate crisis, the decline of natural resources, the destruction of forests that are the source of oxygen are a problem of humanity, the reality of the disappearance of a livable world. The existence of a mutual relationship between all kinds of living and inanimate beings in nature and the environment is an undeniable fact. The destruction of the ecological balance is based on these relations. The basis of environmental problems has been formed by people who want to have nature. Solving these problems is the limitation of various human-made activities. Environmental problems have reached a more significant dimension today than in the past and have become a vital element affecting the whole world. Environmental ethics has become an element that appeals to the feelings of people, that is, to their conscience, by separating from human center ethics, and environmental awareness has been gained in this way.

Disruption Of The Ecological Balance

In parallel with the developing technology since the nineteenth century, industrialization, population growth and urbanization have revealed different types of pollution. These different types of pollution have played a significant role in the deterioration of the ecological balance.

Human activities are accountable for the physical changes in the soil. Uncontrolled and heavy grazing, fire, or cutting for the clearance of forests for domestic purposes and timber caused the disappearance of vegetation cover, soil erosion, and desertification (Kaur, 2022). The destruction of ecological balance has revealed various environmental problems. The deterioration of the natural balance and the unconscious consumption of resources such as air, water and soil have shaken the ecological balance and ıt has cost all humanity and affected all living things on earth. The deterioration of the natural balance has led to the extinction of various living species and has caused a decrease in natural resources. Irreparable damages have occurred, and Mother Nature, which is not only for human, has been destroyed. This destruction has revealed the anxiety of the future for humanity. Although the deterioration of the ecological balance has created an awareness for people, resource consumption and damage to nature are still among the problems of today.

Environmental Movements

Whether the idea of human mastery of nature has decreased from the past to the present has become one of the topics of discussion.  Humanity’s desire to dominate nature with it is wrong policy attitudes has not changed the fact that it actually suppresses and damages the world it lives in. Again, it will be a disappointment for the world to gain environmental awareness with a human-centered approach and to continue the life of human beings away from environmental ethics. The foundations of today’s environmental awareness emerged worldwide in the 1960s and 1970s. Especially 2. Concerns about the negative consequences of the economic developments after World War II on the environment are significant in the formation of environmental awareness.

As a result of the deterioration of the natural balance, people were worried about their future and started various social movements to minimize this destruction. In these movements, it is aimed to turn negative developments related to nature into positive with various solutions such as sustainable, use and protect principle.

The book Silent Spring, which played a significant role in the beginning of environmental movements, was one of the movements that made a significant impact on the environment written in 1962.  The book was written by Rachel Carson. She brought out the global crisis the entire world is facing making people realise that it is a global cause rather than being separated by borders or territories ( Ghanta & Paul, 2016, p. 160). This book, which examines the harm of unconsciously used drugs, especially the effect on birds, led to the establishment of the US Environmental Protection Agency. Carson also warned against indiscriminate chemical use, especially of organic, carbon-based compounds with the ability to actively modify life forms (Johnson, 1996, p. 170A). Silent Spring has peacefully inspired other environmental movements, affecting the world in environmental consciousness.

Another of the environmental movements that develop after awareness is the Chipko movement. The protests in the eastern districts of the Garhwal Himalayas earned the name chipko (which means to adhere, or stick to) from the way in which people hugged trees to prevent them from being felled by migrant work-groups hired by forest contractors (Rangan, 1996, p. 347). This environmental movement, which originated in India, was started by women to prevent the slaughter of forests. The word ‘Chipko’, which is the equivalent of hugging in the Hindi language, is one of the significant symbols of this movement. Women did not want to move by hugging the trees, they tried to protect the trees that were their livelihoods. The Chipko movement has been one of the environmental movements that has started a reform in the field of forestry and made its voice heard in the world.

One of the environmental movements that has made a sound is the climate strike. In 2019, nearly 4 million people worldwide with global climate-related concerns launched a climate strike in various regions. This strike, which for the first time included children, young people, and the elderly around the world, has made a big noise to stop the climate crisis. In recent years, the increasing concerns for the future effects of global warming have given rise to an unprecedented wave of environmental activism, especially by young people (Ramelli, Ossola, & Rancan, 2018, p. 13). As a radical result of the strike, a climate summit program was organized with world leaders together. Various countries have introduced new policies and regulations related to the environment.


Every period has worrying risks for societies. Factors such as globalization, urbanization, population growth have created various risks for nature and human beings. According to Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries definition, risk is: ”the possibility of something bad happening at some time in the future; a situation that could be dangerous or have a bad result”. The ecological balance has been destroyed by human hands and as a result of this destruction, the search for a human-centered solution has begun. The purpose of these solutions is to minimize the risks in nature. Environmental sensitivity has evolved into various social movements. Today, with a growing awareness of global warming and the profound social and ecological upheavals that may likely be upon us, environmental politics once again appears ascendant (Tokar, 2008, p.63).

Social movements have been integrated with various issues and have existed from past to present. Social movements are of critical importance in bringing about social change nay development (Pais, 2022, p. 60). Environmental movements are among the significant movements within social movements. With the changing world order, the environment has been under pressure, various resources have come to the stage of depletion, and the natural balance has been disrupted by irreversible mistakes. The destabilization has created various concerns and led to the birth of environmental movements. Environmental movements have changed the environmental awareness and environmental ethics of the places where they are located, and have tried to change them. These changes have become an substantial milestone in the world to be radical and reform.

The Silent Spring mentioned in the article, that is, this movement, which is momentous in the beginning of environmental sensitivity, has been recorded as a peaceful environmental movement. This book, written by Rachel Carson, was the beginning of a radical change that brought about environmental changes in various policies. It is an undeniable fact to say that environmental awareness, the foundation of which we know was laid in 1960s and 1970s, was formed by substantial environmental movements. Chipko and Climate movements mentioned in the article have also been one of the movements that have made a sound around the world and have brought about radical changes. Today, various environmental problems still persist and studies are carried out on this. The environment is the foremost element for the future of human beings. Adopting an environment-centered ethic instead of a human-centered environmental ethic will minimize the problems related to the future and reduce the anxiety about the future. The mechanization and urbanization brought about by globalization have threatened nature and every element made by human hands has increased the pressure on the environment. Based on this, policies that will reduce environmental pressure should be followed and the order of the environment in which the environment is lived should be established in an environmentally centered manner.

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  • Johnson, J. (1996). Will Our Stolen Future Be Another Silent Spring? In J. JOHNSON, Environmental Science & Technology, 30(4), (pp. 168A-170A).  doi:10.1021/es9621814
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  • Ramelli, S., Ossola, E., & Rancan, M. (2018). Stock price effects of climate activism: Evidence  from the first Global Climate Strike. Journal of Corporate Finance, 1-14. doi:10.1016/j.jcorpfin.2021.102018
  • Rangan, H. (1996). FROM CHIPKO TO UTTARANCHAL. In H. Rangan, R. Peet, & M. Watts (Eds.), Liberation Ecologies (p. 347). London: Taylor & Francis Online: Peer-reviewed Journals. doi:10.4324/9780203032923
  • Retnowati, A., Anantasari, E., Marfai, M., & Dittmann, A. (2014). Environmental Ethics in Local Knowledge Responding to Climate Change: An Understanding of Seasonal Traditional Calendar PranotoMongso and its Phenology in Karst Area of GunungKidul, Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Procedia Environmental Sciences, 785-794. doi:10.1016/j.proenv.2014.03.095
  • Tokar, B. (2008). On Bookchin’s Social Ecology and its Contributions to Social Movements. Researchgate, 51-66. doi:10.1080/10455750701859430
  • Verma, A. (2019, January- June). SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND ENVIRONMENTAL ETHICS. International Journal on Environmental Sciences, 10(1), 1-5. Retrieved from https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3689046
  • https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/risk_1?q=risk
  • https://www.wordspy.com/index.php?word=eco-anxiety

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  1. Rabia Kıvrak 7 ay önce

    Sevgili Sude, insan ve doğa arasındaki tarihsel ilişkiyi etkileyici bir şekilde ele alan güzel bir makale okudum açıkçası. Tebrik ederim. Özellikle, çevre etiği ve bilinci konusundaki derinlemesine analizin, çevresel değişimlerin nasıl evrildiğine ilişkin önemli bilgiler aktarıyor. Çevresel hareketlere olan vurgun, bugünkü çevre bilincinin nasıl oluştuğunu anlamamıza yardımcı oluyor. Ayrıca, çevre sorunlarına karşı farkındalık yaratan önemli olaylara odaklanman, makaleni daha da bilgilendirici kılmış. Kendi adıma söylemeliyim ki, 2019’daki küresel iklim grevinde, genç neslin iklim kriziyle mücadelede nasıl önemli bir rol oynadığını ve genç aktivistlerin çevresel bilincin şekillenmesindeki etkisini görmek umut verici.

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