Nonmetropolitan America in Transition

By Amos H. Hawley; Sara Mills Mazie | Go to book overview

18
Environmental Quality and Protection

INTRODUCTION

The late 1960s and early 1970s were fertile years for the coalescence of major social concerns into voluntary and institutional1 social movements. Two notable ones dating largely from this era are the environmental and nonmetro development movements. Neither environmental concern nor nonmetro development was entirely new, of course. Large nationwide conservation groups such as the Sierra Club and Audubon Society had been actively promoting preservation of the landscape during most of the twentieth century, while nonmetro development was at least nominally present in university and government organization charts for two decades. However, the departure of environmentalism from the traditional conservation movement in the 1960s, and the vigorous surge for nonmetro development from the previously token character of this activity in the 1950s and early 1960s, are quite apparent.2

One interesting feature of the concurrent development of these two movements is their potential conflict and contradictory goals. This is not to suggest an ironclad proposition that the development of nonmetro areas automatically implies environmental degradation. Indeed, one might argue that the underdevelopment--decapitalization, depopulation, and economic marginality--of nonmetro areas had made their residents particularly vulnerable to destruction of their natural resources and natural environments. Nevertheless, it is fair to say that the courses of growth often envisioned by nonmetro development specialists (e.g., nonmetro industrialization) or dictated by enduring economic changes in the larger economy (e.g., energy scarcity, which compels more coal extraction in nonmetro areas) typically involve major environmental problems. In the absence, then, of broadly viable alternative trajectories of growth and development, nonmetro development and environmental quality to some extent become trade-offs that must consciously or

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