Losing Ground: American Environmentalism at the Close of the Twentieth Century

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MIT Press, 1996 - Science - 317 pages
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A recent history replete with compromise and capitulation has pushed a once promisingand effective political movement to the brink of irrelevance.So states Mark Dowie in thisprovocative critique of the mainstream American environmental movement. Dowie, the prolificaward-winning journalist who broke the stories on the Dalkon Shield and on the Ford Pinto, deliversan insightful, informative, and often damning account of the movement many historians and socialcommentators at one time expected to be this century's most significant. He unveils the insidestories behind American environmentalism's undeniable triumphs and its quite unnecessaryfailures.Dowie weaves a spellbinding tale, from the movement's conservationist origins as a handfulof rich white men's hunting and fishing clubs, through its evolution in the 1960s and 1970s into apowerful political force that forged landmark environmental legislation, enforced with aggressivelitigation, to the strategy of "third wave" political accommodation during the Reagan and Bush yearsthat led to the evisceration of many earlier triumphs, up to today, where the first stirrings of arejuvenated, angry, multicultural, and decidedly impolite movement for environmental justiceprovides new hope for the future.Dowie takes a fresh look at the formation of the Americanenvironmental imagination and examines its historical imperatives: the inspirations of Thoreau, theinitiatives of John Muir and Bob Marshall, the enormous impact of Rachel Carson, the new groundbroken by Earth Day in 1970, and the societal antagonists created in response that climaxed with theelection of Ronald Reagan. He details the subsequent move toward polite, ineffectual activism by themainstream environmental groups, characterized by successful fundraising efforts and wide publicacceptance, and also by new alliances with corporate philanthropists and government bureaucrats,increased degradation of environmental quality, and alienation of grassroots support. Dowieconcludes with an inspirational description of a noncompromising "fourth wave" of Americanenvironmentalism, which he predicts will crest early in the next century.

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User Review  - anne_fitzgerald - LibraryThing

An analysis of the formation of American environmentalism and historical imperatives. Discusses the inspirations of Thoreau, Muir, Marshal and Carson and the social antagonisms created in response that climaxed with the election of Ronald Reagan. Read full review

Losing ground: American environmentalism at the close of the twentieth century

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

In this timely book, award-winning journalist Dowie analyzes why the once-effective environmental movement now appears, even under an ostensibly friendly Democratic administration, increasingly ... Read full review

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About the author (1996)

Award-winning journalist Mark Dowie is the author of Losing Ground: AmericanEnvironmentalism at the Close of the Twentieth Century, American Foundations: An InvestigativeHistory (both published by the MIT Press), and four other books.

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