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Uniting AmericaRestoring the Vital Center to American Democracy$
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Norton Garfinkle and Daniel Yankelovich

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780300108569

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300108569.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM YALE SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.yale.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Yale University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in YSO for personal use.date: 23 September 2021

Toward a Sustainable Environmentalism

Toward a Sustainable Environmentalism

(p.227) Chapter 13 Toward a Sustainable Environmentalism
Uniting America
Mark Sagoff
Yale University Press

There were three stages in the development of environmental thought in the United States. The first stage occurred in the 1960s, when the environmental movement focused on protecting human health, safety, and welfare from visible harms caused by pollution. The second stage encompassed less visible and less demonstrable dangers, such as smaller amounts of hazardous wastes and toxic substances that were possibly carcinogenic, whose sources and effects could not be easily identified and quantified. In the third and current stage, the emphasis shifts to maintaining biodiversity and the “health” or “integrity” of biological systems. The new conservationism poses problems known as “wicked” problems, which value-neutral science is unable to state or answer. This chapter first considers the distinction between science and “trans-science” as well as the concept of “wicked” problems, along with risk assessment and environmental regulation. It then examines the new environmentalism and its limitations, including an emphasis on the “health of ecosystems”.

Keywords:   environmental thought, United States, human health, biodiversity, conservationism, wicked problems, trans-science, environmentalism, environmental regulation, ecosystems

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