Confronting Environmental Racism: Voices from the Grassroots

By Robert D. Bullard | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER 3

Environmentalism and the Politics of Inclusion

Dorceta E. Taylor

Since at least the 1830s, European-American individuals and groups have championed the cause of the environment. In the early years, two concerns dominated this movement: natural resource conservation, and wilderness and wildlife preservation (Nash 1982; Paehlke 1989, pp. 4-22; Fox 1985; Devall and Sessions 1985; Pepper 1986; Bramwell 1990). While these two dominant perspectives often conflicted with each other, they also overlapped in their primary concern with the management of large, sparsely populated, public wildlands.

From the 1950s and 1960s onward, a third concern began to increasingly be seen as an essential aspect of modern environmentalism: human welfare ecology. As Robyn Eckersley notes, "The accumulation of toxic chemicals or 'intractable wastes'; the intensification of ground, air, and water pollution generally; the growth in new 'diseases of affluence' (e.g., heart disease, cancer); the growth in urban and coastal high rise development; the dangers of nuclear plants and nuclear wastes; the growth in the nuclear arsenal; and the problem of global warming and the thinning of the ozone layer have posed increasing threats to human survival, safety, and well-being" (Eckersley 1992, p. 36). It was on the basis of these concerns that the environmental movement finally emerged as a significant mass movement by the 1970s. Like its predecessors, however, this new wing of the modern environmental movement tended to operate without significant minority participation ( Buttel and Flinn 1974; Loweet al. 1980; Paehlke 1989; Fox 1985; Mohai 1990; Taylor 1989).


The Rise of an Inclusive Environmental Movement

This pattern changed dramatically with the emergence of the multiracial environmental justice movement in the late 1980s. In recent

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