The twentieth century has been the period in which the terms "ecology" and "environment" have become household words as well as potent political forces. During the century, the United States issued the first major federal response that called for a national environmental policy, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969. With the enactment of NEPA, the United States began a "Magna Carta-like" federal program on environmental protection and management. In 1992 the biggest and most important environmental conference, the U.N. Conference on Environment and Development, also known as the "Earth Summit," brought together six thousand delegates from over 170 nations to discuss and negotiate such topics as climate change, biodiversity, deforestation, and economic relations between developed and less-developed nations.
During the late twentieth century, a consensus seemed to emerge throughout most of the United States and the world that it was time to combat pollution and seek a balance with nature. In hindsight, it is not clear what led to this unexpected change in humanity's worldview. It is likely that forces were multiple and complex, including the academic credibility ecology gained from professional scientists of the time as well as social, economic, and political factors.
Of all the "great events" of the twentieth century, perhaps the most significant to the future of this planet is the way in which humankind has tried to achieve equilibrium with nature. This book covers many of the fundamental concerns that have emerged regarding the relationship between so