A History of Environmental Politics Since 1945

A History of Environmental Politics Since 1945

SAMUEL P. HAYS
Copyright Date: 2000
Pages: 272
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt6wrcjm
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    A History of Environmental Politics Since 1945
    Book Description:

    An overview of contemporary environmental affairs, from 1940s to the present-with an emphasis on nature in an urbanized society, land developments, environmental technology, the structure of environmental politics, environmental opposition, and the results of environmental policy.

    eISBN: 978-0-8229-7224-2
    Subjects: General Science, Environmental Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. 1 THE SETTING OF ENVIRONMENTAL POLITICS
    (pp. 1-4)

    Environmental politics has become a major feature of the nation’s political landscape during the past several decades. It has involved personal values, local public affairs, and state and national politics and has evoked a significant response from governments and private corporations. As a result, such issues have assumed central importance in the thinking of many Americans: the attempt to preserve nature in the city, the countryside, and the wildlands; the need to control and prevent pollution; and concerns about restraining population and consumption pressures on the finite resources of land, water, and air. These issues in turn have given rise...

  5. 2 A HISTORY OF ENVIRONMENTAL TRANSFORMATION
    (pp. 5-21)

    Increasing awareness of the wider environment in which Americans live has led to much interest on the part of both citizens and scientists in describing that environment. A new breed of historians has arisen to chart and describe such matters, and within the world of science a greater number of specialists have been enticed to examine systematically how the environmental world works. New fields have emerged from botany and zoology, now transformed into varied ecological specializations to explore the interactions of living organisms. Using biology, geology, and chemistry, biogeochemical cycles have been reexamined to determine how human influence modifies these...

  6. 3 THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPULSE
    (pp. 22-35)

    The increasing public interest in environmental affairs has given rise to debates over the origins of and support for the environmental “movement.” Environmental advocates view it as a natural reaction to environmental degradation, an explanation that has some merit to it, but it does not tell us why environmental interests emerged so distinctively in the years just after World War II, when in earlier years people had remained rather passive in the face of environmental change. Opponents of environmental initiatives, on the other hand, seek to argue that environmental advocates come from the “elite” of American society, that they are...

  7. 4 NATURE IN AN URBANIZED SOCIETY
    (pp. 36-51)

    One of the most persistent themes in the search for a higher quality of life is the desire for a more natural environment amid the built-up circumstances of modern life. There are three parts to this search. The first is the desire for more natural lands, plants, and animals in one’s environment to provide a more natural setting for daily life than the highly developed settings that have increasingly become the norm. The second is the belief that pollution has created an environment that is less attractive and less healthy than one in which more natural biogeochemical processes are less...

  8. 5 THE WEB OF LIFE
    (pp. 52-65)

    The public interest in nature, known widely as “nature preservation,” had a close but distinctive counterpart in the search for a less contaminated or less polluted environment. Less polluted implicitly meant “more natural,” a world that could experience less contamination from human activity. In the heat of public debate, absolutist terms often took over, thus more “natural” often was described as “pristine” in the same sense as “Eden” constituted the absolutist form of “nature preservation.” But more proximate or relative terms described more accurately the direction of environmental objectives as efforts to reduce pollution continued and as environmental action moved...

  9. 6 LAND DEVELOPMENT
    (pp. 66-78)

    One of the most persistent and intractable roadblocks to environmental objectives was land development. Developments of all kinds seemed to threaten to destroy natural habitat, to produce more pollution, and to make life increasingly more congested, impersonal, and fleeting. Open land was turned into housing, malls, or commercial and industrial establishments; colleges and universities expanded their campus facilities; more and more highways were built, adding more and more cars. The environment of human life was less and less open and expansive and more and more closed and confining. It seemed that massive forces were at work in a dynamic that...

  10. 7 PUBLIC RESOURCES AND PRIVATE RESOURCES
    (pp. 79-93)

    The environment is largely a public affair, consisting as it does of the air, water, and land that people consider to be integral to their daily lives, their homes, their work, and their play. Air and water are more obviously public in that they “belong to everybody,” and everybody has a stake in their quality; hence much environmental activity is directed toward the public regulation of how private individuals and corporations use and misuse air and water as a public resource. Land is more mixed in its private or public character; it is “privately owned,” which carries certain “rights” along...

  11. 8 ENVIRONMENTAL ENGAGEMENT
    (pp. 94-108)

    When one thinks of citizen involvement in environmental affairs, the term “environmental movement” often comes to mind. Usually this comprises the citizen environmental organizations and their activities, some general ideologies that are used to justify and advance attention to environmental affairs, and the public policies that result from political action. The term “movement” has been applied to similar types of social and political action in the past, such as the “labor movement,” the “prohibition movement,” the “civil rights movement,” and the “women’s movement.” The customary set of “movement characteristics,” as mentioned above, is attributed to the “environmental movement.”

    For environmental...

  12. 9 THE ENVIRONMENTAL OPPOSITION
    (pp. 109-121)

    One of the most curious features of contemporary environmental analysis is the limited focus on the environmental opposition. A wide range of literature exists about the organized environmental movement, written by those who associate themselves with it, those who oppose it, and those who view themselves as relatively neutral. But the environmental opposition as a subject for writing is rarely encountered. In their news stories, the media usually assume that there is an environmental opposition and stories about it appear as a momentary matter, but there is little systematic observation of the opposition as a persistent development in American society and...

  13. 10 THE POLITICS OF ENVIRONMENTAL IMPLEMENTATION
    (pp. 122-136)

    Once adopted, environmental policies turned into issues of implementation and these, in turn, evolved in almost every case into environmental management. Unless policies could be carried out through some governmental agency, rather than be left simply to the world of private action and controversy in which the issues would be decided through the courts, they required some ongoing institution to carry them out. Environmental management thus dominated much of the larger world of environmental affairs.

    Management was not only an instrument of implementation; it was also a realm of political choice. Environmental laws inevitably left many choices to the administering...

  14. 11 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE
    (pp. 137-153)

    The steady development of environmental science is one of the more remarkable features of recent environmental affairs. As late as the 1960s environmental science was still in its infancy, but by the end of the century there was much vigorous activity in research, published articles, new journals, professional exchanges, and conferences. The central journal in the field of environmental pollution,Environmental Science and Technology,published by the American Chemical Society beginning in 1967, became by the 1990s the Society’s journal of largest circulation save for its lead publication,Chemical and Engineering News. Publications in the fields related to the natural...

  15. 12 THE ENVIRONMENTAL ECONOMY
    (pp. 154-169)

    If there is any issue that continually shapes the debate over environmental affairs it is that of the “environment and the economy.” The links between what traditionally has been thought of as the economy and what is now thought of as the environment are closely interconnected. Every facet of long-standing ideas about the economy has an environmental dimension. Environmental affairs have brought a new perspective to bear on traditional activities such as production and income, jobs and investments, consumption and markets, capital formation and maintenance, resource use and depletion, and the distribution of benefits. Environmental issues have generated a wide...

  16. 13 ENVIRONMENTAL TECHNOLOGY
    (pp. 170-184)

    Technological innovation was one of the major impulses in environmental engagement. Many existing technologies pollute communities by emitting wastes to air, land, and water. How to develop and adopt more environmentally acceptable technologies? The issues are far-reaching, ranging from extraction and processing of raw products to chemical manufacturing and the agricultural use of pesticides and excess fertilizer. Resource-extraction and land-development technologies progressively disturbed more land more severely with practices such as clearcutting in timber harvest or machine removal of land in strip mining. Increasingly large power plants concentrated waste heat, which had an even greater impact on the water bodies...

  17. 14 THE STRUCTURE OF ENVIRONMENTAL POLITICS
    (pp. 185-197)

    Environmental politics made its own distinctive contribution to the structure of American political institutions and especially to the regional and party patterns of political impulses, the relationships between the varied branches of government, and the forms and degrees of political participation. None of these involved basic changes in the structure of American governing, but each contributed to incremental changes in long-established governing institutions. There were distinctive regional and party patterns in the degrees of support for and opposition to environmental objectives. There were distinctive ways in which the struggle for environmental influence shaped the relationships among executive, legislative, and judicial...

  18. 15 THE RESULTS OF POLICY
    (pp. 198-213)

    Four decades of environmental affairs have led to a wide range of environmental programs and activities that provide an opportunity for assessments of the results. What has been accomplished? Which policies have been more successful and which ones less so? In his bookA Moment on Earth,Gregg Easterbrook argued that the environmental movement exercised overwhelming influence and sway in the 1970s and 1980s, an exaggeration that seems to be based more on ideology than on careful analysis. For others, none of the varied environmental programs worked; they were a massive waste of effort and funds. Such writers often purport...

  19. 16 ENVIRONMENTAL PERSPECTIVE
    (pp. 214-227)

    The world of environmental politics is filled with competing descriptions and explanations of what it is all about. These competing explanations present the observer of environmental affairs with a dual task: (1) to describe and understand them as integral parts of political debate, each one serving the purposes of one segment or another of that struggle, and (2) to use them as sources to generate a more detached and comprehensive view. The world of environmental debate is so extensive and varied that we cannot round out our treatment of environmental politics without emphasizing the give-and-take of competing facts and ideas...

  20. 17 PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE
    (pp. 228-234)

    The ongoing patterns of environmental affairs described in the previous chapters are part of an evolutionary process that links past, present, and future. They emphasize incremental change, in which slowly emerging attitudes and interests, choices in personal values and behavior, public debates and policies add up over the years and take their place amid those inherited from the past. They also establish directions for the future, with a sense of equally incremental change as varied and competing personal and public initiatives work themselves out. Past, present, and future are closely linked and provide a context in which we can understand...

  21. FURTHER READING
    (pp. 235-250)
  22. INDEX
    (pp. 251-256)