A Trail Across Time: American Environmental Planning From City Beautiful to Sustainability

This paper aims to link the major ideas of American environmental planning from the late 19th century until today, showing how they have evolved and suggesting what additional changes will be required to progress further toward sustainability. A literature review was conducted and five time periods were identified that are useful for understanding and analyzing environmental planning successes and shortcomings. Environmental planning has its roots in the physical design of cities and the tension between conserving natural resources for human use and protecting wilderness. In the 1920s, regional environmental planning emerged. Federal environmental impact statements were first required in the 1970s, along with efforts to clean up and prevent pollution. In the 1980s, a backlash against government command and control began, leading governments to use incentives to address environmental problems. The current era (beginning in 1992) emphasizes sustainability, tying together the ideas and practices of the previous eras and blending regulation and financial incentives to address national and global environmental problems. Looking towards the future, making environmental planning a political priority will be necessary in order to reduce carbon footprints and increase conservation in the face of significant population growth.


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  • Accession Number: 01149099
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jan 25 2010 10:31PM