Los Angeles—the place without a sense of place, famous for sprawl and overdevelopment and defined by its car-clogged freeways—might seem inhospitable to efforts to connect with nature and community. But in Reinventing Los Angeles, educator and activist Robert Gottlieb describes how imaginative and innovative social movements have coalesced around the issues of water development, cars and freeways, and land use, to create a more livable and sustainable city.
Today's urban riverfronts are changing. The decline of river commerce and riverside industry has made riverfront land once used for warehouses, factories, and loading docks available for open space, parks, housing, and nonindustrial uses. Urban rivers, which once functioned as open sewers for cities, are now seen as part of larger watershed ecosystems. Rivertown examines urban river restoration efforts across the United States, presenting case studies from Los Angeles; Washington, D.C.; Portland, Oregon; Chicago; Salt Lake City; and San Jose.
Every year, nations and corporations in the "global North" produce millions of tons of toxic waste. Too often this hazardous material—linked to high rates of illness and death and widespread ecosystem damage—is exported to poor communities of color around the world. In Resisting Global Toxics, David Naguib Pellow examines this practice and charts the emergence of transnational environmental justice movements to challenge and reverse it.
Foreign investment has been widely perceived as a panacea for developing countries—as a way to reduce poverty and kick-start sustainable modern industries. The Enclave Economy calls this prescription into question, showing that Mexico's post-NAFTA experience of foreign direct investment in its information technology sector, particularly in the Guadalajara region, did not result in the expected benefits.
In America today we see rampant development, unsustainable resource exploitation, and commodification ruin both natural and built landscapes, disconnecting us from our surroundings and threatening our fundamental sense of place. Meanwhile, preservationists often respond with a counterproductive stance that rejects virtually any change in the landscape. In The Working Landscape, Peter Cannavò identifies this zero-sum conflict between development and preservation as a major factor behind our contemporary crisis of place.
For over half a century, the biologist Barry Commoner has been one of the most prominent and charismatic defenders of the American environment, appearing on the cover of Time magazine in 1970 as the standard-bearer of "the emerging science of survival." In Barry Commoner and the Science of Survival, Michael Egan examines Commoner's social and scientific activism and charts an important shift in American environmental values since World War II.
Universities and colleges are in a unique position to take a leadership role on global warming. As communities, they can strategize and organize effective action. As laboratories for learning and centers of research, they can reduce their own emissions of greenhouse gases, educate students about global warming, and direct scholarly attention to issues related to climate change and energy.
In Alternative Pathways in Science and Industry, David Hess examines how social movements and other forms of activism affect innovation in science, technology, and industry. Synthesizing and extending work in social studies of science and technology, social movements, and globalization, Hess explores the interaction of grassroots environmental action and mainstream industry and offers a conceptual framework for understanding it.
The smart growth movement aims to combat urban and suburban sprawl by promoting livable communities based on pedestrian scale, diverse populations, and mixed land use. But, as this book documents, smart growth has largely failed to address issues of social equity and environmental justice. Smart growth sometimes results in gentrification and displacement of low- and moderate-income families in existing neighborhoods, or transportation policies that isolate low-income populations.
Although the environmental movement and the environmental justice movement would seem to be natural allies, their relationship over the years has often been characterized by conflict and division. The environmental justice movement has charged the mainstream environmental movement with racism and elitism and has criticized its activist agenda on the grounds that it values wilderness over people.
Racial minority and low-income communities often suffer disproportionate effects of urban environmental problems. Environmental justice advocates argue that these communities are on the front lines of environmental and health risks. In Noxious New York, Julie Sze analyzes the culture, politics, and history of environmental justice activism in New York City within the larger context of privatization, deregulation, and globalization.
The precautionary principle—which holds that action to address threats of serious or irreversible environmental harm should be taken even in the absence of scientific certainty—has been accepted as a key feature of environmental law throughout the European Union. In the United States, however, it is still widely unknown, and much of what has been written on the topic takes a negative view.
Chinese production of automobiles rose from 42,000 cars per year in 1990 to 2.3 million in 2004; the number of passenger vehicles on the road doubled every two and a half years through the 1990s and continues to grow. In China Shifts Gears, Kelly Sims Gallagher identifies an unprecedented opportunity for China to "shift gears" and avoid the usual problems associated with the automobile industry—including urban air pollution caused by tailpipe emissions, greenhouse gas emissions, and high dependence on oil imports—while spurring economic development.
Standards and codes dictate virtually all aspects of urban development. The same standards for subdividing land, grading, laying streets and utilities, and configuring rights-of-way and street widths to accommodate cars (rather than pedestrians) have been adopted in many areas of the world regardless of variations in local environments. In The Code of the City, Eran Ben-Joseph examines the relationship between standards and place making.
The precautionary principle calls for taking action against threatened harm to people and ecosystems even in the absence of full scientific certainty. The rationale is that modern technologies and human activities can inflict long-term, global-scale environmental damage and that conclusive scientific evidence of such damage may be available too late to avert it. The precautionary principle asks whether harm can be prevented instead of assessing degrees of "acceptable" risk. This book provides a toolkit for applying precautionary concepts to reshape environmental policies at all levels.
For almost 30 years, the environmental justice movement (EJM) has challenged the environmental and health inequities that are often linked with social inequities, calling attention to the disproportionate burden of pollution borne by low-income and minority communities. The successes of the movement have been celebrated, and the EJM's impact on the direction of environmental policy, research, and activism is widely acknowledged. But the literature on environmental justice lacks a real assessment of the movement's effectiveness.
Amidst city concrete and suburban sprawl, Americans are discovering new ways to reconnect with the natural world. From community gardens in New York's Lower East Side to homeless shelters in California, the search for a more sustainable future has led grassroots groups to a profound reconnection to place and to the natural world.
When environmental health problems arise in a community, policymakers must be able to reconcile the first-hand experience of local residents with recommendations by scientists. In this highly original look at environmental health policymaking, Jason Corburn shows the ways that local knowledge can be combined with professional techniques to achieve better solutions for environmental health problems.
For years, the residents of Diamond, Louisiana, lived with an inescapable acrid, metallic smell—the "toxic bouquet" of pollution—and a mysterious chemical fog that seeped into their houses. They looked out on the massive Norco Industrial Complex: a maze of pipelines, stacks topped by flares burning off excess gas, and huge oil tankers moving up the Mississippi. They experienced headaches, stinging eyes, allergies, asthma, and other respiratory problems, skin disorders, and cancers that they were convinced were caused by their proximity to heavy industry.
In Garbage Wars, the sociologist David Pellow describes the politics of garbage in Chicago. He shows how garbage affects residents in vulnerable communities and poses health risks to those who dispose of it. He follows the trash, the pollution, the hazards, and the people who encountered them in the period 1880-2000. What unfolds is a tug of war among social movements, government, and industry over how we manage our waste, who benefits, and who pays the costs.
These personal narratives of greening college campuses offer inspiration, motivation, and practical advice. Written by faculty, staff, administrators, and a student, from varying perspectives and reflecting divergent experiences, these stories also map the growing strength of a national movement toward environmental responsibility on campus.
Relations between organized labor and environmental groups are typically characterized as adversarial, most often because of the specter of job loss invoked by industries facing environmental regulation. But, as Brian Obach shows, the two largest and most powerful social movements in the United States actually share a great deal of common ground.
In Community-Driven Regulation Dara O’Rourke proposes a new policy model for pollution control, based on detailed case studies from rapidly industrializing Vietnam. He shows that environmental problems can be solved when affected community groups mobilize to pressure both state and industry and argues that this strategy, which he terms "community-driven regulation," used successfully in Vietnam, can achieve similar success in other countries.
Louisiana annually reports over eight tons of toxic waste for each citizen. Uneasy Alchemy examines the role of experts—lawyers, economists, health professionals, and scientists—in the struggles for environmental justice in the state's infamous Chemical Corridor or "Cancer Alley." This legendary toxic zone between New Orleans and Baton Rouge is home to about 125 oil and chemical plants; cancer and respiratory illness rates there are among the highest in the nation.
In this innovative account of the urbanization of nature in New York City, Matthew Gandy explores how the raw materials of nature have been reworked to produce a "metropolitan nature" distinct from the forms of nature experienced by early settlers. The book traces five broad developments: the expansion and redefinition of public space, the construction of landscaped highways, the creation of a modern water supply system, the radical environmental politics of the barrio in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and the contemporary politics of the environmental justice movement.