Encyclopedia of Modern Worldwide Extremists and Extremist Groups

By Stephen E. Atkins | Go to book overview

R

Radical Environmentalism

The radical environmentalism movement uses direct action and sometimes violent tactics to protect the wilderness and the environment. Two events helped radicalize the environmental movement before 1980. The first was the debate over the Glen Canyon Dam and the creation of Lake Powell in 1956. More significant was the Forest Service's Roadless Area Review and Evaluation (RARR) surveys in the early and late 1970s. These events were perceived by some in the environmental movement as defeats of moderate lobbying efforts at the national level. Radicals in the environmental movement interpreted these decisions as promoting corporate wealth at the expense of the wilderness with the federal government siding with commercial interests and denying the public good.

The anti-environment program of the Reagan administration was a call to action for radical environmentalists. An alliance of business interests, ranchers, and right-wing politicians instigated the federal government's transferring of public lands to the states for final disposition to private interests; it was the last straw for the environmentalists. This anti-environmental alliance became known as the Sagebrush Rebellion. Several veterans of the environmental movement formed a radical environmentalist group, Earth First!, to oppose the anti-environmentalists. Among the tactics of radical environmentalists in this group have been civil disobedience and sabotage. These eco-warriors consider themselves at war against the despoilers of the environment. They have adopted the philosophy of deep ecology, which challenges the primacy of human beings in nature. In their view, all creatures are worth saving and need a place in the environment. Destruction of the technology threatening the ecology is known as ecological sabotage, or monkeywrenching.

The most recent radical environmentalist organization is Earth Liberation Front (ELF). This organization made its first appearance in Great Britain in the early 1990s, but it was active in the United States by 1996; by 1998, it was the leading radical environmentalist group in the United States. The ELF, modeled on the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), specializes in arson attacks. Members of the ELF are responsible for more than a dozen arson operations causing more than $30 million in damages. Law enforcement has found it difficult to make arrests for these incidents because of the secret nature of the ELF. See also Bari, Judi; Earth First!; Foreman, David; Hill, Julia “Butterfly”; Monkeywrenching.

Suggested readings: Marego Athans, “ELF 'Eco-terrorists' Target Those They See as Earth's

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Encyclopedia of Modern Worldwide Extremists and Extremist Groups
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Chronology of Events vii
  • Introduction xxi
  • A 1
  • B 26
  • C 57
  • D 80
  • E 89
  • F 96
  • G 110
  • H 123
  • I 137
  • J 142
  • K 149
  • L 166
  • M 184
  • N 215
  • O 230
  • P 238
  • Q 252
  • R 253
  • S 267
  • T 291
  • U 301
  • V 304
  • W 306
  • Y 326
  • Z 328
  • Selected Bibliography 331
  • Index 339
  • About the Author 375
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