Although it can be argued that environmental consciousness is ancient, and forms part of many religions, it was not until the 1960s that environmentalism became an organised force. The scientific developments and changes in ideas about the environment that have taken place since then have played a significant role in shaping the modern world.
For many, the milestone marking the birth of the environmental movement was the publication, in 1962, of Rachel Carson's best-selling book Silent Spring.Silent Spring inspired a new public awareness that human beings were harming the environment. Environmentalism was born and it has never looked back.
Since the 1960s the movement has grown dramatically. The environment has secured an important place on the academic and research agenda – there are now many thousands of scientists, philosophers and lawyers involved in the movement. James Lovelock who created the Gaia theory in 1972 is one of the most radical environmental thinkers.
Environmentalism also thrives in the public sphere. Environmental protest groups campaigning about a huge variety of issues have sprung up in every country.
As well as mounting campaigns, the public can influence environmental issues with the consumer choices they make. Nowhere is this more evident and complex than in the case of energy.