A critique of the current state and future prospects of the American environmental movement. It presents the results of interviews with a wide range of individuals both within and outside the movement in order to elucidate the core issues and problems confronting today's environmentalists.
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Philip Shabecoff, a science writer for The New York Times for three decades, has reported on hundreds of environmental battles and controversies, bringing them to the attention of millions of readers. But his good work and that of his fellow environmental journalists has, Shabecoff suggests, gone unheeded--not by the citizenry, who are overwhelmingly in favor of legal measures to protect the environment, but by the forces of industry, commerce, and the mainstream media, which have enormous financial stakes in preserving the status quo.
Environmental reportage, Shabecoff says, can only do so much in any event. After all, he notes, in the nearly 40 years since Rachel Carson warned in Silent Spring of the deadly effects of pesticides, "the use of synthetic substances that can sicken or kill people and wildlife has increased threefold." What is wanted, he urges in the pages of Earth Rising, is a well-coordinated "fourth wave" environmental movement that can bring aggressive political maneuvering, money, and irrefutable information to play against an array of foes. "Well-coordinated" is a key word, Shabecoff continues, for if at least 25 million Americans are involved in some way or another with environmental issues, either as grassroots activists or as dues-paying members of organizations from the Audubon Society to Earth First!, their efforts are not usually in concert, with the result that divide-and-conquer tactics on the part of, say, the logging and mining industries have often been successful.
"We yet have the capacity to forestall destruction," Shabecoff writes. But a more resourceful, more diverse, and stronger environmental movement must rise to prevent the destruction of the biosphere in this time of seemingly infinite, ever-expanding economic activity. That movement, Shabecoff continues, will need to do a better job of reaching out to labor, progressive industries, legislators, and the citizenry to forge the powerful alliances that are needed to assure clean air and water, healthy food, and other desiderata in the new century. His book offers plenty of practical advice on how such a movement can be formed, and activists and organizers will find plenty of ammunition in its well-reasoned pages. --Gregory McNameeAbout the Author:
Philip Shabecoff was the chief environmental correspondent for the "New York Times" for fourteen of the thirty-two years he worked there as a reporter. After leaving the "Times", he founded and published Greenwire, an online daily digest of environmental news. He has appeared on Meet the Press, Face the Nation, Washington Week in Review, CNN News, C-Span, National Public Radio, and the BBC. For his environmental writing, Shabecoff was selected as one of the Global 500 by the United Nations Environment Programme. He received the James Madison Award from the American Library Association for leadership in expanding the public's right to know. His previous books include "A Fierce Green Fire: A History of the American Environmental Movement."
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