Arms production at full capacity adds to pollution, while bombing destroys urban centers and economic infrastructure. Some 125 weapons production sites, a fourth of them used to manufacture of chemical weapons, leave a legacy of contamination that is not dealt with for many years.
Arms production sites are razed, although many hazardous chemicals remain in the ground. The priority placed on recovery and then growth means that little attention is paid to the environment. The large industrial sector causes air pollution problems, and the Rhine and the Main nearly become "dead" rivers.
As the economy seems more secure and the environmental movement gathers momentum worldwide, Germans become more concerned about the effects of growth. The government responds with laws on waste and emissions, establishing the principles of Germany's environmental policy: screening for pollution, the "polluter pays" for damages, and collaboration between government, business, and society.
The oil shocks force reduced dependence on foreign oil for economic reasons. This leads to increased energy efficiency, but also to reliance on nuclear power. Environmental groups, concerned with pollution and acid rain at home and abroad, increase in number and voice, and begin to put forth political candidates. The Federal Environmental Agency is created.
Environment, peace, and women's organizations form a new party, the Greens, urging disarmament, responsible growth, and withdrawal from NATO. Although not yet a major force, the Greens grow in influence and bring environmental issues to the mainstream. After Chernobyl, Kohl creates the Ministry of Environment, Nature Conservation, and Reactor Safety, and new controls make air and water cleaner.
Reunification brings enormous environmental problems, estimated at DM400 billion at one point. In the East there were few laws, little enforcement, and a priority of industrial growth over all else. Global warming concerns become increasingly prominent. An extensive Soil Conservation Law mandates cleanup of contaminated land.
The Social Democrats join with the Greens to form a coalition government. In 2000 the government begins to phase out nuclear power, which accounts for 40 percent of electricity consumption. Less nuclear power is likely to require more coal burning. A 2001 shipment of nuclear waste from France sparks protests. The southeast is hit by devastating floods in 2002. Greens push through a bottle-deposit law.
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