What are the most important factors explaining the rise of environmentalism in the UK?


The News Media is not only responsible for the representation of environmental issues but also for public awareness, media coverage has influenced the rise in environmentalism hugely by bringing it into the public eye.


For the general mainstream population media is their main – if not only – source of information.


The government has a responsibility to inform the public of ‘public affairs’ and although a lot of statistics, emotive stories, graphic pictures appear in the papers it does not necessarily make them ‘true.’ The media has the power to manipulate our views. Since the 80’s the media representation of environmental issues has become more clarified and more ‘hyped’ a lot of this extra coverage is due to the emergence of pressure groups into the public eye.


It often takes groups like these to bring to our attention the atrocities of the environmental world. The media can choose what to release and what they want, and similarly withhold information that they deem unnecessary. It is because of this that the rise of environmentalism has been skewed and sometimes bias, over time this has led to the emergence of pressure groups and also the rise in public support for pressure groups like Green Peace who take time and money to expose or divulge information that might normally be held from us.


Pressure groups like Greenpeace often risk their lives to ensure the security of the planet we live in. Greenpeace is non-violent organization, which holds no attachment to governments, and has no connection with any political parties. It is this lack of government affiliation that allows them, to release any information they like. And protest however and wherever they like…


Brent Spar-February 16th 1995


Greenpeace learned that the UK government had granted permission for Shell Oil to dump a contaminated oil installation, (Brent Spar) the rig was to be sunk into the North Atlantic despite its radioactive payload. Dumping operations, just west of Ireland and Scotland, were expected to begin in May. Greenpeace went into action with plans to take over and occupy the rig to prevent the dumping. Video and photo staffs were called upon to document the Brent Spar platform and the occupation. Twenty five activists boarded the rig in a protest against its dump. Shell oil evicted the protesters but despite this Greenpeace activists re-occupied the Brent Spar and continued to protest against Shells plans.


The planned Shell dump was to take place one month before North Sea environment ministers were due to meet in Denmark to discuss measures to eliminate the discharge of hazardous substances from all sources into the North Sea. Greenpeace stated that if the Brent Spar platform were to be dumped at sea, the dumpage of Brent Spar would not have set the best example and at the Oslo and Paris Commission meeting, 11 out of 13 countries agreed a halt on the dumping of offshore installations, pending agreement on an outright ban. (http://www.gre.ac.uk/bj61/talessi/tlr3.html)


From this it is easy to see that modern day pressure groups have become a major political force in their own right. They manifest themselves in the use of powerful communication techniques, and they succeed in attracting wide attention and sympathy, projecting their case with great skill via the mass media -understanding the power of public relations.


Their power and influence is also bound to grow over the next few years. Merely because multinational companies are ill prepared to face the challenge of pressure groups, their responses often slow and clumsy, it is because of this they hold so much influence.


Pressure groups have played a huge role in the rise of environmentalism, promoting public awareness, public support and promoting knowledge and understanding on environmental issues.


As well as pressure groups interest groups like Friends of the Earth, and WWF promote knowledge and understanding in a less direct and aggressive manner, most of their work is merely to raise awareness about the pollution, de-forestation, acid rain, short fall sewage pipes, oil spills, and all the other atrocities that occur in the world today. It was these interest groups that spawned the real initiation of environmentalism.


There has been an exponential outpouring of social science literature