Sixties 1960-69

Rachel Carson — a biologist and science writer with the US Fish & Wildlife Service, merged the conservation and public health movements into the environmental movement with her 1962 book Silent Spring.

1960

Air Pollution Study  June 8, 1960 — US president Eisenhower signs a bill starting a two-year Public Health Service study into on air pollution from cars.

Atomic dumping  Oct. 10, 1960 — Jacques Cousteau and Prince Rainier III of Monaco publicly oppose French plan to dump radioactive wastes into the Mediterranean Sea. The French decide not to go ahead.

 Alaska Conservation Society founded to oppose a nuclear landscaping proposal by Edward Teller called Project Chariot (See 1958). Celia Hunter (Jan. 13, 1919 – Dec. 1, 2001), a pilot and founder of Camp Denali in the 1950s, is one of the early environmental advocates opposed to Teller and his madcap atomic projects.

 Fermi Nuclear Reactor stopped, then started –– 1960 — June 12 — Responding to safety concerns from unions and the public, a federal court halts construction of the Laguna Beach, Mich. Fermi nuclear power plant 30 miles southwest of Detroit, but US Supreme Court allows it to restart. In 1966, a nearly catastrophic loss of coolant accident forces Unit One’s permanent closure and shows that critics had reason to be concerned. (See John G. Fuller, We Almost Lost Detroit, Readers Digest Press, 1975).

Goodbye to a River,” a book by John Graves, published in 1960.  It’s a story about the author’s canoe trip down the Brazos River in north-central Texas and about the history of the river.  Thirteen dams were planned for the river, although only three were built.

1961

Nuclear meltdown in Idaho —  Jan. 3 — Three operators are killed when a small experimental nuclear reactor melts down and explodes in Arco, Idaho.

Nuclear bomb nearly detonates in North Carolina — Jan. 23 — Two Mark 39 hydrogen bombs were accidentally dropped over Goldsboro, North Carolina on 23 January 1961. The bombs fell to earth after a B-52 bomber broke up in mid-air.  FOIA releases confirmed the event in 2013.

1961, June 12 — International Clean Air Congress held in London.

1961 — World Wildlife Fund founded by Sir Peter Scott along with Prince Philip of Britain, Prince Bernhardt of The Netherlands, Aristotle Onassis, and then-National Rifle Association president C.R. “Pink” Gutermuth. Simultaneously, Russell Train founds the African Wildlife Leadership Foundation, now called just the African Wildlife Foundation. Merritt Clifton writes:

“A primary original goal of both WWF and AWF is to promote funding of wildlife conservation internationally by sales of hunting permits, as the National Wildlife Federation had already achieved in the U.S. This, it was hoped, would prevent newly independent former colonies of European nations from following India and Kenya in banning sport hunting (which was not finally accomplished in either India or Kenya until 1977, although attempts began much earlier).”

1961 — US President John. F. Kennedy tells the United Nations: “Every inhabitant of this planet must contemplate the day when this planet may no longer be habitable .  The weapons of war must be abolished before they abolish us.”

1962

White House Conservation Conference — May 25 — The first since US President Theodore Roosevelt’s congress of governors in 1908 was “part of the Kennedy Administrations continuing effort to stimulate public interest in the preservation of America’s natural resources,” says the New York Times.  The conference also finds something of a resolution in the old “preservation versus wise use” debate.

“A narrow viewpoint was expressed by those who insisted on conservation exclusively for “use” and decried the establishment of natural areas set aside solely as quiet places… Such a position misses the point. Everyone favors more efficient management .. but the ‘preservationists’ believe — and fortunately there are now a good many of them in high places in this administration — that steps must be taken now to protect the remnants of our wilderness…” New York Times, May 26, 1962 

Silent Spring’s Noisy Summer  — Reaction to Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, first published in the New Yorker on June 22, 1962,  is immediate and nationwide. Some agronomists ask whether Carson is intending to starve people by banning pesticides. By 1970 DDT is banned in the US for agricultural use, but other far more toxic chemicals are not. Silent Spring is often seen as a turning point in environmental history because it opened a larger national dialogue about the relationship between people and nature and merged public health and conservation movements.  Although it was not the beginning of the “environmental movement,” it was a major accelerator.

Thalidomide scandal rocks Europe but US is safe after following the precautionary principle — 1962 — Amendments to the Food Drug and Cosmetic Act say that drugs need to be effective as well as safe. The U.S. largely avoided the thalidomide birth defects disaster, in which 10,000 children were born with serious birth defects in 46 countries.   The FDA did not approve the anti-nausea drug for sale to pregnant women in the U.S. largely due to the concerns of Frances Oldham Kelsey, who had absolutely refused to let the US Food and Drug Administration approve the untested anti-nausea drug for pregnant women.

General Motors and Standard Oil of New Jersey (Exxon) finalize papers on Dec. 3, 1962 to abandon Ethyl Corp. selling it to Albemarle Paper Co. in $200 million leveraged buyout which the corporations themselves finance. Ethyl was the main manufacturer and unapologetic defender of leaded gasoline (or, more precisely, tetra-ethyl lead and similar additives). Eight years later, in 1970, GM will abandon leaded gasoline. There has been speculation about GM’s rationale for dumping Ethyl, but until Ethyl’s private documents become public, few will know whether GM was motivated by an understanding of the grave public health issues surrounding leaded gasoline.

Another London “pea souper” —  A smog so thick that London comes to a standstill  settles in from Dec. 4 to Dec. 7.  It is the worst since 1952, when 4,000 sudden deaths were attributed to the smog.  This time about 106 “die suddenly” and the final toll is counted around  750.  The difference in ten years, according to authorities, could be attributed to the Clean Air Act of 1956 “which gave local authorities the power to prohibit fires that cause smoke.”

Murray Bookchin publishes Our Synthetic Environment, Knopf

1963

1963 — Senate Subcommittee on Air and Water Pollution created. US Congress passes Clean Air Act with $95 million for study and cleanup efforts at local, state and federal level. See former Sen. Edmund S. Muskie’s article, “The Clean Air Act: A Commitment to Public Health.

1963 — France, Switzerland, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands agree to protect Rhine River from pollution in Berne Accord.

1963 — Aug. 5 —  Nuclear Test Ban Treaty between U.S. and U.S.S.R. (Russia) stops above ground tests of nuclear weapons, but massive explosions keep scattering radiation around the world. The accumulation of radioactive strontium 90 in children’s teeth is the focus on one study that helped move the nuclear tests to slightly safer underground locations.

1963 — Oct 9 — 2,500 die in Vajont resevoir disaster, Dolomite mountains 100 km north of Venice. Around 10:30 p.m., a massive landslide of 270 million cubic meters of rock fell into the hydroelectric reservoir. The dam did not break, but the wave of water over the dam was high enough, and forceful enough, to entirely destroy the towns downstream. The resevoir on the Piave River had been built in 1960. It was emptied several times as large movements of land threatened the dam’s integrity, and there are those who believe the disaster could have been averted. The disaster is explained in a geology web site by Dr. David Petley and remembered in this Italian web site. UNESCO has cited the tragedy as one of five major “cautionary tales” of disasters caused by “the failure of engineers and geologists and said: “Proper understanding of the geology of the hillside would have prevented the disaster.”

Canadian naturalist and author Farley Mowat publishes Never Cry Wolf. Along with A Whale For The Killing (1972) and Sea of Slaughter (1989), Never Cry Wolf is among the most influential books in the history of animal advocacy. (M. Clifton)

William Allen Swallow, a lifelong humane worker, authors The Quality of Mercy, a “history of the humane movement in the United States,” published by the Mary Mitchell Humane Fund.

1964

Nassar and Kruschev at the Aswan High Dam ceremony, May 14, 1964.

May 14 — Aswan High Dam floodgates open on the after the switch is thrown by Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nassar and Soviet premier Nikita Kruschev. Since the dam innundated an area of major international importance, the United Nations responded by creating World Heritage sites which, theoretically, have more international protection. The dam is an environmental problem in other ways that were not expected, such as increasing human disease and soil erosion along the Nile.

1964 –Sept. 3– Congress creates National Wilderness Preservation System “to secure for the American people of present and future generations the benefits of an enduring resource of wilderness.” The system initially contained 9.1 million acres of wild lands, but by 2001 there were about 90 million acres of wilderness preserved in the United States. Text of the Act is available from Wilderness System web page. A history is also available from the Wilderness Society.

1964 — Hazel Henderson organizes Citizens for Clean Air in New York.

Oct. 30, 1964 — Pacific Gas & Electric Co. announces it will abandon plans to build a nuclear power plant at Bodega Head, on the Pacific Coast 50 miles north of San Francisco.  The natural beauty of the location, combined with the fact that it is located directly atop the seismically active San Andreas fault line, were major points against the project.  Undeterred, PG&E began the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant on the same fault line a few years later.

Farrington Daniels publishes Direct Use of the Sun’s Energy (Yale University Press).    “Plans should be made now to develop substitutes for combustion fuels– coal, oil and gas… Research for new sources of heat and power is long overdue.”

1965

February 8 — In a “Special Message to Congress on Conservation and Restoration of Natural Beauty” US president Lyndon Johnson warns of buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

“This generation has altered the composition of the atmosphere on a global scale through radioactive materials and a steady increase in carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels… Pollution destroys beauty and menaces health. It cuts down on efficiency, reduces property values and raises taxes. The longer we wait to act, the greater the dangers and the larger the problem.” — US President Lyndon Johnson

1965 — Congress passes Water Quality Act setting standards for states, along with the Noise Control Act and Solid Waste Disposal Act.

July, 1965 — Sierra Club sues to protect New York’s Storm King Mountain from a power project. The case establishes a precedent, allowing the Club standing for a non-economic interest in the case.

1965 — Weather inversion creates four day air pollution incident in New York City; 80 die.

1965 – November – Environmental Pollution Panel of the President’s Science Advisory Committee issues a report “Restoring the Quality of Our Environment” that includes a warning about increasing CO2 in the atmosphere.

1965 — US Public Health Service publishes report “Protecting the Health of Eighty Million Americans” stating that old problems of worker safety and health were not solved and new technological challenges were complex. The report leads to a reorganization of the PHS and the establishment of OSHA in 1970.

December 27 — Nine die as Britain’s first effort at offshore oil drilling ends in disaster with the collapse of the Sea Gem platform.

StormKing.NY_DEC.hrvt20December 29 —  Scenic Hudson – Storm King decisionFederal court rejects a license for Consolidated Edison electric utility to build a pumped storage facility at Storm King Mountain north of the city due to environmental impacts. Some consider the case “the birth of environmental law.” 

The Natural Resources Defense Council notes that the massive  Storm King pumped – hydro storage project took aim at a treasured Hudson River scenic resource that “held a special place in American culture as the distinctively American wilderness venerated by the nation’s earliest writers such as James Fenimore Cooper, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Washington Irving.”  Storm King mountain was also a frequent subject of the  Hudson River school of landscape artists, including Thomas Cole, Asher Durand, and Frederick Church. 

Books of 1966

  • Ralph Nader, Unsafe at Any Speed a book highly critical of the automotive industry.
  • Rachel Carson, The Sense of Wonder, Harper & Row (posthumous)

1966

1966 — June– Sierra Club publishes appeals in the New York Times and Washington Post to stop building a dam that would flood the Grand Canyon. The following day (perhaps coincidentally?), the IRS notifies the Sierra Club that it has suspended its tax-exempt status. The ad said simply, “This time it’s the Grand Canyon they want to flood. The Grand Canyon.

1966 — Barry Commoner establishes Center for the Biology of Natural Systems.

June 8, 1966  — Hearings on leaded gasoline begin in U.S. Senate and include testimony from Robert Kehoe, a scientist working for industry, and Clair  Patterson, a UCLA scientist who exposed Kehoe¹s fraudulent industry research. Patterson’s study “Contaminated and Natural Lead Environments of Man” offers first hard proof that high lead levels in industrial nations are man-made and endemic. The hearings, chaired by Sen. Edmund Muskie, lead to extended debate about the need for new regulatory agencies and new approaches to regulations.  In one of the most sterling moments in public health and environmental history, Patterson tells the committee:

“It is not just a mistake for public health agencies to cooperate and collaborate with industries in investigating and deciding whether public health is endangered – it is a direct abrogation and violation of the duties and responsibilities of those public health organizations.”

 1966  — US Public Health Service publishes report “Protecting the Health of Eighty Million Americans” stating that old problems of worker safety and health were not solved and new technological challenges were complex. The report leads to a reorganization of the PHS and the establishment of OSHA in 1970.

1966 — July 2 —  French begin nuclear weapons testing at Moruroa in the South Pacific, in what was then called French Polynesia. Testing ends by 1974 after 41 nuclear explosions.  

1966 — Oct 5 — Fermi No. 1 fast metal breeder nuclear reactor in Detroit, Michigan loses coolant and partially melts down. (See John G. Fuller, We Almost Lost Detroit, Readers Digest Press, 1975).

 

1966– Oct 21 — A coal mine waste pile (tip) collapses in Aberfan, Wales, burying 116 children and 28 adults.  Like the Buffalo Creek disaster in the US (1972) and coal ash waste pile disasters,  the buildup of unrelieved water pressure was the cause of the collapse.   Blame for the disaster could be placed on the National Coal Board, a commission of inquiry found. And the commission observed:

“The Aberfan disaster is a terrifying tale of bungling ineptitude by many men charged with tasks for which they were totally unfitted, of failure to heed clear warnings, and of total lack of direction from above. Not villains, but decent men, led astray by foolishness or by ignorance or by both in combination, are responsible for what happened at Aberfan. That, in all conscience, is a burden heavy enough for them to have to bear without the additional brand of villainy…”

1966 — Life magazine expose of conditions at facilities that sold impounded dogs and cats to research produces public outrage and leads to the passage of the Laboratory Animal Welfare Act, expanded into the present Animal Welfare Act in 1971. (M. Clifton)

Books of 1966

William Niering writes  The Life of the Marsh.

1967

 1967 — January — Outer Space Treaty is signed to prohibit placement of nuclear weapons in orbit around Earth

 1967 —  February — Treaty of Tlatelolco signed prohibiting nuclear weapons in the Caribbean or Latin America

1967 —  Environmental Defense Fund established.

1967 —  US Congress passes Air Quality Act / Clean Air Act which authorizes planning grants to state air pollution control agencies.

March 18 — Torrey Canyon oil tanker crashes off the coast of England resulting in a spill of over 29 million gallons of oil devastating the coastlines of England and France.

1967 — Greenpeace is founded in Vancouver, Canada as the Don’t Make A Wave Committee, a Quaker peace group, which becomes Greenpeace in 1971 after several years of disrupting nuclear tests in the South Pacific.

1967 —  Cleveland Amory and Marian Probst founded The Fund For Animals, out of frustration with the failure of the Humane Society of the U.S. and other leading humane groups to oppose sport hunting. By the early 1980s they all opposed sport hunting. (M. Clifton, 2007)

1967 — Lynn White’s essay “Historical roots of our ecological crisis,” appears in Science magazine (155: 1203-1207).

The greatest spiritual revolutionary in Western history, Saint Francis, proposed what he thought was an alternative Christian view of nature and man’s relation to it; he tried to substitute the idea of the equality of all creatures, including man, for the idea of man’s limitless rule of creation. He failed. Both our present science and our present technology are so tinctured with orthodox Christian arrogance toward nature that no solution for our ecologic crisis can be expected from them alone. Since the roots of our trouble are so largely religious, the remedy must also be essentially religious, whether we call it that or not. We must rethink and refeel our nature and destiny. The profoundly religious, but heretical, sense of the primitive Franciscans for the spiritual autonomy of all parts of nature may point a direction. I propose Francis as a patron saint for ecologists.

1967 — Lake Peddar, Tasmania — Protests begin when the government of Tasmania revokes the lake’s national park status and begins building a hydroelectric dam. The moment is often seen as an environmental awakening for Tasmania.

1968

1968, Jan 1. — Redwood National Park established in California.

1968 — Congress passes Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and National Trails System Act.   

1968 —  Elmer Robinson — a meteorologist who led environmental research at the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) warns the American Petroleum Institute that rising carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere “may be the cause of serious world-wide environmental changes.”

1968 — David Brower leads effort to save Grand Canyon from dams proposed by the Bureau of Land Management.

1968 — United Nations Biosphere Conference encourages the idea of a larger general UN conference on the environment, scheduled for Stockholm in 1972.

February 11 — Scientists at Antarctica’s Byrd Research Station drill the first ice core through 7,000 feet of ice in order to study historical temperature and atmospheric changes.

1968 — March 18 — Robert F. Kennedy speaks at the University of Kansas:

“Too much and too long, we seem to have surrendered community excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our gross national product … if we should judge America by that — counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for those who break them. It counts the destruction of our redwoods and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and the cost of a nuclear warhead, and armored cars for police who fight riots in our streets. It counts Whitman’s rifle and Speck’s knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.

“Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages; the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it tells us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.”

1968, April 4 — Martin Luther King assassinated supporting Memphis TN sanitation workers strike. for environmental and economic justice.

1968, June 6 — Robert F. Kennedy assassinated.

1968 — Friends of the Sea Otter founded.

Nov. 20, 1968 — Farmington Mine disaste According to Ken Ward of the Charleston Gazette, the United Mine Rescue Association said: At approximately 5:30 a.m. on Wednesday, November 20, 1968, an explosion occurred in  the Consol No.9 Mine, Mountaineer Coal Company, Division of Consolidation Coal Company, Farmington, Marion County, West Virginia. There were 99 miners in the mine when the explosion occurred, 78 of whom died as a result of the explosion. The other 21 miners survived the explosion and escaped to the surface; seven miners working in A Face Section, four miners working near the slope bottom, and two miners working near the Athas Shaft (areas not affected by the explosion) escaped unassisted to the surface. Eight miners working near the newly constructed Mahan Shaft when the explosion occurred were rescued via the shaft by a mobile crane equipped with a steel cable and a bucket large enough to accommodate three miners. All of the eight miners were on the surface by 10:40 a.m. of the same day.  

1968, December 1 — Garrett Hardin publishes his article Tragedy of the Commons in Science, 162(1968):1243-1248.

“Every new enclosure of the commons involves the infringement of somebody’s personal liberty. Infringements made in the distant past are accepted because no contemporary complains of a loss. It is the newly proposed infringements that we vigorously oppose; cries of “rights” and “freedom” fill the air. But what does “freedom” mean? When men mutually agreed to pass laws against robbing, mankind became more free, not less so. Individuals locked into the logic of the commons are free only to bring on universal ruin; once they see the necessity of mutual coercion, they become free to pursue other goals. I believe it was Hegel who said, “Freedom is the recognition of necessity.”

More information: The Garrett Hardin Society

1968, Christmas eve — Apollo 8 astronauts take first photos of “Earthrise.”

Books:

1969

1969 –Jan. 31 — Santa Barbara oil well blowout off the Santa Barbara coast of California spills 235,000 gallons of oil and covers 30 miles of beach with tar. Well is capped Feb. 8. 

 

March 2 — Anglo-French supersonic airplane, the Concorde, flies for the first time.  By 1976 regular commercial flights begin, ending in 2003.    Noise pollution and the introduction of NOx into the upper atmosphere were two environmental concerns.

1969 — Auto makers settle suit by Justice Department for conspiracy to stifle the development of pollution-control devices started in the mid-1950s.

1969 — Nov. 26 — Five hundred attend UNESCO conference “Man and his Environment: A View Towards Survival” in San Francisco. Stanford University professor Paul Ehrlich said he thought that it would be imposossible to increase the food supply for the six to seven billion people expected by the 21st century. The idea that the food supply can be increased by harvesting the oceans “is a gigantic hoax,” Erlich said. Stirling Bunnell warned that neither form of nuclear power — fission or fusion — would be a safe substitute for fossil energy. Carl Gerstacker, chair of Dow Chemical Co., said what worried him was the unwillingness of politicians to set effective pollution measures. Nixon respresntative Lee DuBridge, on the other hand, said that the “taxpayer and consumer, not the industry, must pay for environmental improvements.” The conference was in preparation for the Stockholm Conference on the Environment of 1972. “A good many people in San Francisco expressed the hope that the United States will have a more responsible contribution to the coming meeting than a lecture on 19th century capitalist philosophy,” Wolf von Eckert said in a Washington Post article Nov. 17 (p.B1). Finally, there was this gem:

The naivite, enthusiasm and idealism of young people is not a thing to be scorned, for it is the raw material of constructive growth… We will stop the destruction of this planet even at the cost of our futures, careers and blood.” — Pennfield Jensen, student, San Francisco State College.

1969 –Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act passed.

1969 — National Environmental Policy Act passed in Congress.

” . . . it is the continuing policy of the Federal Government, in cooperation with State and local governments, and other concerned public and private organizations, to use all practicable means and measures, including financial and technical assistance, in a manner calculated to foster and promote the general welfare, to create and maintain conditions under which man and nature can exist in productive harmony, and fulfill the social, economic, and other requirements of present and future generations of Americans.” NEPA Declaration of National Environmental Policy 101. (a)

1969 — Friends of the Earth founded.

1969 — New Alchemy Institute (now the Green Center) founded.

1969 — Sierra Club v. Morton lawsuit is filed to prevent Walt Disney Enterprises from developing a large ski resort in the Mineral King area of the Sequoia National Park. The US Supreme Court denies the Sierra Club standing to sue the federal government (i.e., Sec. of Interior Morton). Later laws will provide avenues for standing. But the suit is notable for the eloquence of the 1972 dissent by Justice William O. Douglas. Referring to Aldo Leopold’s Land Ethic and Christopher D. Stone’s law article, Should Trees Have Standing? (45 S.Cal.L. Rev.450-1972), Douglas said:

“…Before these priceless bits of Americana such as a valley, an alpine meadow, a river, or a lake are forever lost or are so transformed as to be reduuced to the eventual rubble of our urban environment, the voice of the existing beneficiaries of these environmental wonders should be heard. Perhaps they will not win. Perhaps the bulldozers of ‘progress’ will plow under all the aesthetic wonders of this beautiful land. That is not the present question. The sole question is, who has standing to be heard? Those who hike the Appalachian Trail into Sunfish Pond, New Jersey, and camp or sleep there, or run the Allagash in Maine, or climb the Guadalupes in West Texas, or who canoe and portage the Quetico Superior in Minnesota, certainly should have standing to defend those natural wonders before courts or agencies, though they live 3,000 miles away. Those who merely are caught up in environmental news or propaganda and flock to defend these water or areas may be treated differently. That is why these environmental issues should be tendered by the inanimate object itself. Then there will be assurances that all of the forms of life which it represents will stand before the court — the pileated woodpecker as well as the coyote and bear, the lemmings as well as the trout in the streams…” (James Barros, International Law of Pollution, 1974).

River on fire — Cuyahoga River in Ohio is on fire in this 1952 file photo. The fire of June 22, 1969 finally caught the nation’s attention and fueled support for the Clean Water Act. River fires were routine during the age of petroleum, from 1859 – to the early 21st century. (NASA photo / UPI)

1969 — June 22 — Cuyahoga river bursts into flames 5 stories high from oil and chemical pollution, illuminating the extent of pollution and simultaneously igniting controversy over how much cleanup will be needed. The river fire becomes a defining moment for the new environmental movement.

“I will never forget a photograph of flames, fire, shooting right out of the water in downtown Cleveland. It was the summer of 1969, and the Cuyahoga River was burning.” Carol Browner, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator 1993-2001. Excellent website by Gillian Page on Cuyohoga River history.

1969, Sept. 10 — Interior Dept. nets $900,220,590 in high bids for Alaskan oil leases. The sale of oil on 179 tracts of the North Slope totaling 450,858 acres opens the arctic for oil exploration. 

Sept. 10, 1969 — A 43 kiloton nuclear bomb is detonated underground in Garfield County, Colorado by the Atomic Energy Commission under Project Rulison, part of Project Plowshare/Peaceful Atom.   The idea was to free natural gas from sandstone formations.  Although successful, the gas turned out to be too radioactive to use.  See this High Country article: He Felt the Earth Move. 

ENVIRONMENTAL BOOKS OF THE YEAR 1969:

  • Eugenie Clark, The Lady and the Sharks Harper & Row
    • Not many appreciate the ultimate power and potential usefulness of basic knowledge accumulated by obscure, unseen investigators who, in a lifetime of intensive study, may never see any practical use for their finding but who go on seeking answers to the unknown without thought of financial or practical gain.
  • Victor B. Sheffer, The Year of the Whale, takes whale-saving from the pursuit of a handful of scientists (most influentially, Sheffer himself and Sydney Holt) to the rise of an global Save the Whales! movement. (M. Clifton, 2007)

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