I n 1974 Patrick Caddell, a political pollster soon to be employed by Jimmy Carter, reported that attitudes in Florida had "dramatically changed." A "new issue structure" appeared to be emerging with "'Quality of Life' replacing 'Quantity of Life,' with environmental concerns clashing with economic concerns." People interviewed in other states gave priority to pocketbook issues like inflation, food prices, and unemployment. "Yet in Florida these issues have been overwhelmed by the issues of growth, overpopulation, pollution, water shortages, etc. This is not to say economic and other concerns are not important issues, but the surprising point is the overwhelming saliency of the environmental issue."1
If Caddell was right, if environmentalism had become not a mere piety but smart politics, why had this occurred? The shift in Florida was, of course, part of a national trend. Particularly among the young, the 1960s had been a period of rising concern over technology's threat to nature. Pesticides were killing the birds; detergents were fouling the rivers; automobile exhaust was contaminating the air. The new-style environmentalists were the heirs of the earlier preservationists. Like them, they longed to halt the rape of nature and preserve the unspoiled wilderness. But they were more sophisticated in assessing the threats. If people were to have safe food to eat, pure water to drink, and clean air to breathe, the environmentalists had to stand guard against a variety of enemies -- manufacturers who adulterated food, factories that dumped industrial wastes into rivers and lakes, power plants that allowed noxious fumes to pour out of their smokestacks; campers and boaters who dumped sewage into the streams; motorists and hikers who cluttered the roadside with empty cans. Concern over these issues was everywhere on the rise, and Congress and the state legislatures were passing protective legislation.
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Book title: Land into Water--Water into Land:A History of Water Management in Florida. Contributors: Nelson Manfred Blake - Author. Publisher: University Presses of Florida. Place of publication: Tallahassee, FL. Publication year: 1980. Page number: 195.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.