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Nimby Is Beautiful

Nimby Is Beautiful: Cases of Local Activism and Environmental Innovation Around the World

Carol Hager
Mary Alice Haddad
Copyright Date: 2015
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 236
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  • Book Info
    Nimby Is Beautiful
    Book Description:

    NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) protests are often criticized as parochial and short-lived, generating no lasting influence on broader processes related to environmental politics. This volume offers a different perspective. Drawing on cases from around the globe, it demonstrates that NIMBY protests, although always arising from a local concern in a particular community, often result in broader political, social, and technological change. Chapters include cases from Europe, North America, and Asia, engaging with the full political spectrum from established democracies to non-democratic countries. Regardless of political setting, NIMBY movements can have a positive and proactive role in generating innovative solutions to local as well as transnational environmental issues. Furthermore, those solutions are now serving as models for communities and countries around the world.

    eISBN: 978-1-78238-602-5
    Subjects: Political Science, Environmental Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Introduction. A New Look at NIMBY
    (pp. 1-14)
    Carol Hager

    Driving through southwestern Germany’s Black Forest region, one encounters tranquil villages, idyllic pasturelands, and, if one is lucky enough to arrive in the fall, the spectacular colors of the fabled forest itself. It looks much as it did generations ago, but for a few distinctly modern touches. State-of-the-art wind turbines now dot the hillsides, and many of the characteristic Black Forest houses are adorned with solar panels. Driving down into the meadowlands near the Rhine, it is difficult for a visitor to imagine that this gentle landscape was once slated to become the smog belt of Europe.

    In the early...

  6. Chapter 1 How do Grassroots Environmental Protests Incite Innovation?
    (pp. 15-32)
    Helen M. Poulos

    Although NIMBY protests are often characterized as promoting self-interest at the expense of the public good, local environmental activism can have long-lasting sociopolitical effects, and it can change the way people think about the environment and human health. This study examined how NIMBY mobilizations facilitate societal innovation. I used a multivariate analytical approach and a global database of sixty NIMBY cases to identify factors that differentiated protest cases into “innovation” and “no innovation” groups, using a classification tree approach. The database covered a global geographical scope and included a range of environmental protest topics, from chemical pollution to wind energy....

  7. Chapter 2 From NIMBY to Networks: Protest and Innovation in German Energy Politics
    (pp. 33-59)
    Carol Hager

    Germany is widely admired as a pioneer in renewable energy development. German scientists and entrepreneurs have made important advancements in solar, wind, and biofuel technologies. German local and regional governments have experimented broadly with new models for energy production and conservation. These innovations were aided by landmark federal legislation; the Electricity Feed-in Law of 1990 and the Renewable Energy Sources Act of 2000 facilitated a rapid expansion of the renewable energy sector. Figure 2.1 shows the growth trajectory of renewables in Germany between 1990 and 2012. By the end of 2012, renewables accounted for nearly 24 percent of total gross...

  8. Chapter 3 NIMBY and YIMBY: Movements For and Against Renewable Energy in Germany and the United States
    (pp. 60-86)
    Miranda Schreurs and Dörte Ohlhorst

    After years of slow growth, renewable energy is booming. In 2011, renewables accounted for close to half of all new electricity capacity added and produced an estimated 19 percent of global electricity. Renewable energy growth rates have been particularly strong in Europe, where 71 percent of total electricity capacity growth was due to renewables. In Germany, renewables accounted for less than 12 percent of electricity consumption in 2006. At the end of 2013, they accounted for 25 percent, a fantastic expansion in just a few years’ time. In the United States too, there has been considerable growth in renewable energy...

  9. Chapter 4 Hell No, We Won’t Glow! How Targeted Communities Deployed an Injustice Frame to Shed the NIMBY Label and Defeat Low-Level Radioactive Waste Facilities in the United States
    (pp. 87-110)
    Daniel J. Sherman

    A 1979 film calledThe China Syndromedepicted a United States nuclear industry and government bureaucracy with an arrogant disregard for public safety. In this fictionalized account, an industry whistleblower warned of a core meltdown at a nuclear reactor that would hit groundwater and explode back through the ground as radioactive steam and “render an area the size of Pennsylvania permanently uninhabitable.” Two weeks after the film was released, a jammed pressure indicator at the Three Mile Island (TMI) nuclear plant near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania gave erroneous readings and set off a series of events resulting in a partial meltdown and...

  10. Chapter 5 Protecting Cultural Heritage: Unexpected Successes for Environmental Movements in China and Russia
    (pp. 111-137)
    Elizabeth Plantan

    Whether positive or negative, NIMBY politics is often presented as a characteristic part of the democratic process (McAvoy 1998; Dahl 1989; Lindblom 1990). However, these same dynamics of citizen organization, protest, and government/corporate response can also occur in non-democratic contexts. Perhaps surprisingly, NIMBY politics in constrained political environments can still produce the types of positive innovation mentioned in the early chapters of this volume discussing Germany and the United States. The Gunter chapter on China and the Dalian power plant and the Haddad chapter on polluting factories in Taiwan and South Korea also illustrate the lasting effects that NIMBY politics...

  11. Chapter 6 The Dalian Chemical Plant Protest, Environmental Activism, and China’s Developing Civil Society
    (pp. 138-160)
    Mike Gunter Jr.

    China is probably not the first country that comes to mind when considering NIMBY protests. As an authoritarian state, it regularly invokes strict governmental control on everything from the Chinese equivalents of Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube to traditional civil society in the shape of nongovernmental organization (NGO) formation and individual membership in such social groups. Yet this omnipresent heavy hand of censorship is increasingly countered by evolving technology, namely access to information that challenges existing social and political structures (Xie 2011; Xie and Van der Heijden 2010). Microblogs such as Sina’sWeibo,the Chinese counterpart to Twitter, continue to grow...

  12. Chapter 7 Local Activism and Environmental Innovation in Japan
    (pp. 161-178)
    Takashi Kanatsu

    Japan’s environmental performance has been stunning, to say the least, considering that the country was dubbed a “pollution archipelago” (Kogai Retto) in the 1960s. Some of the pollution-related diseases suffered by Japanese people are still remembered vividly in Japan and the rest of the world. Since 75 percent of Japan’s terrain is mountainous, almost half of its natural seashores were lost in order to construct industrial complexes.

    Japan changed its approach to the environment dramatically circa 1970, becoming one of the most environmentally conscious countries in the world. Japan is leading the world particularly in the field of efficient, environmentally...

  13. Chapter 8 From Backyard Environmental Advocacy to National Democratization: The Cases of South Korea and Taiwan
    (pp. 179-199)
    Mary Alice Haddad

    This chapter examines the link between NIMBY protests and democratization movements, focusing on the cases of South Korea and Taiwan. In both of these countries,¹ mobilization around local environmental issues fed into broader discussions about political reform and eventually culminated in successful national democratization movements that ended decades of military/authoritarian rule. The two cases are “hard” cases because the political contexts in which the NIMBY movements emerged were ones in which successful environmental advocacy was least likely to occur. The cases also work as “outlier” cases in which local environmental advocacy contributed to the most extreme result possible: complete regime...

  14. Conclusion. NIMBY is Beautiful How Local Environmental Protests Are Changing the World
    (pp. 200-212)
    Mary Alice Haddad

    Citizens around the world increasingly face life-threatening environmental challenges. Unfortunately, local, national, and international policy-making structures are often ill-equipped to cope with the complexity of these economic, political, social, and ecological challenges. Thus far, social science literature and public rhetoric have often belittled NIMBY protests as parochial, shortsighted, and destructive to progress. In contrast to this conventional wisdom, this volume has demonstrated that NIMBY environmental protests often serve the public interest, have positive long-term effects, and promote progress on broader issues facing society. Drawing on cases of grassroots environmental protest from around the world, we have shown not only the...

  15. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 213-214)
  16. Index
    (pp. 215-223)