#Throwback Thursday: Music of the Environmental Movement

I love music. My husband says I have a sound track following me through my life. It got me thinking about how I can combine two of my passions through this blog… working in environmental consulting and songs born during the early environmental movement that continue to ring true with current environmental concerns. “Environmental Movement” is a widely used term that has had many different starts worldwide. Although this movement has affected the entire planet, I’ll focus solely on the songs from the American environmental movement.

Being a child of the 60’s and 70’s, I assumed the American environmental movement began then. The American Experience has a comprehensive chronology of the modern environmental movement. It takes us through major events and legislation that is the framework that underlies CAPACCIO’s mission, “ Helping Industry and the Environment Prosper.“

As Peter Rothberg said in an article he wrote for “The Nation,” every good movement needs its music! I will start this multi-part series with a song that I personally learned to play on my guitar and sing in high school … Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi”. I didn’t know it at the time, but I would go on to study Environmental Science even though it wasn’t a well-established major in 1977.

Please listen to Joni sing “Big Yellow Taxi”:

Joni wrote this song in 1970 while on a trip to Waikiki, Hawaii. She was concerned because she was on this beautiful island and, as she looked out of her hotel window, all she could see was pavement. There was a tourist site, Forest Gardens, that had an indoor display of giant native trees, which seemed ridiculous to her. I think Joni was expecting a beautiful lush island and was dismayed with what she saw. To add to her dismay, at around the same time, The Garden of Allah Hotel in Hollywood, a well-known partying spot, was being demolished and turned into a parking lot. There are references to DDT which Rachel Carson brought to light in her book, Silent Spring, in 1962 http://rachelcarson.org/SilentSpring.aspx

Is Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) today’s DDT?

Though Joni Mitchell’s song is an environmental anthem, you may be wondering where the title “Big Yellow Taxi” came from. Joni was lamenting the loss of her old man (aka her boyfriend) that had been taken away by a yellow police car which was the color of Canadian police cars in the 1970s… somehow all the different parts of her life come together in her songs. Joni’s fast changing chords and wonderfully succinct lyrics made this tune a staple in my repertoire.

Stay tuned to this Throwback series for more insights into music that spurred the environmental movement. Next up, Motown Wonder Marvin Gaye…Mercy, Mercy, Me (The Ecology).

As Senior Vice President, Lucy has more than 30 years experience providing specialized environmental consulting to industry. To help with risk reduction, she has focused on solving our clients’ environmental compliance challenges by providing cutting edge hazardous waste management solutions (contingency plans, waste characterization); Emergency Planning and Community Right To Know Act (EPCRA) and Toxics Use Reduction Act (TURA) reporting; and NPDES (stormwater, non-contact cooling water and process specific) permitting. Lucy’s thorough and intuitive TURA planning has helped clients improve product quality, establish a more effective safety culture, and enhance their bottom line.