Environmental movements have played a significant role discursively, as well as materially, in transforming the state to a green one. The heyday of the environmental movement is often described as the time period that saw formation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the passage of the Water Pollution Control Act, the Clean Air Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, and the Endangered Species Act during the early 1970s. However, the codification of environmental problems through the state took the environmental movement's momentum away from the left, and took up environmentalism as a cause for the right.
The Richard M. Nixon Administration sought a consensus approach to environmental problems, and his creation of a policy apparatus for environmental problems served to take away the political momentum of the left. While the EPA regulated the harms from production practices, the failure to include the Department of Agriculture, Department of Energy, and Department of Transportation in the planning and regulatory sphere left their interventions more at the whims of market forces and political cronyism. The critique entitled the Death of Environmentalism blamed the failure of the environmental movement on a narrowly-defined policy reform that failed to maintain political coalitions and win-win scenarios that could promote jobs and environmental concern.
Some have questioned whether or not the institutionalization of mainstream environmental movement organizations qualifies them as a social movement, which, to some, is a contradiction: you cannot have a movement that is institutionalized. The institutionalization of environmental movements through nongovernmental organizations has seen an increase in passive members who simply write checks in the name of some environmental organization, many of which must maintain large overheads to stay fiscally afloat. Another concern is mainstream environmental organizations' move away from protest tactics and critiques of multinational corporations to a more collaborative approach. Yet, it is unclear if collaborative environmental movements makes them more or less effective in dealing with environmental problems. There is also a concern that the institutionalization of environmental movements has led to the scientiza-tion of environmental problems. This has narrowed the focus to the science of environmental problems, often neglecting their social origins.
Environmental movement concerns merge with concerns about development in the developing world. Successful environmental movements—so called red/green movements—in developing countries include the Chipko Andolan Movement, a group that protected trees in Northern India through acts of civil disobedience against transnational logging companies. Often, these campaigns link concerns about livelihoods with concerns about the environment. Chico Mendez led a group of rubber tappers in Brazil on a crusade to link their practices to the preservation of biodiversity in the Amazon. However, not all developing-country environmental campaigns have been successful. The Three Gorges Dam project in China is one glaring example of mass relocation and devastating environmental impact that environmental movements have found difficulty in challenging.
More recently, environmental justice movements have refocused attention to environmental concerns in urban areas and cities. An executive order by President William J. Clinton, in the 1990s, required federal agencies in the United States to evaluate the consequences of agency actions on the distribution of environmental burdens. Many urban environmental movements draw attention to the problem of environmental racism, where communities are disproportionately exposed to negative environmental consequences. With the rapid rise of urban populations around the world, the promotion of sustainable cities has been cited as a high priority for environmentalists.
sEE also: Food Miles; Green Cities; Policy, International; Policy, U.S.; Public Awareness.
BIBLIOGRAPHY. John Dryzek, The Politics of the Earth: Environmental Discourses (Oxford University Press, 1997); Roger Gottlieb, Forcing the Spring: The Transformation of the American Environmental Movement (Island Press, 1993); Ramachandra Guha, "Radical American Environmentalism and Wilderness Preservation: A Third World Critique," Environmental Ethics (v.11/1, 1989); Ramachandra Guha and Joan Martinez-Alier, Varieties of Environmentalism (Earthscan, 1997); Richard Peet and Michael Watts, Liberation Ecologies: Environment, Development, and Social Movements (Routledge, 2004); Christopher Rootes, "Environmental Movements," The Blackwell Companion to Social Movements (Blackwell, 2004); Andrew Szasz, EcoPopulism: Toxic Waste and the Movement for Environmental Justice (University of Minnesota Press, 1994).
DuSTIN MULVANEY University of California, Santa Cruz
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