TABLE OF CONTENTS at OUP April, 2017 | Vol. 22, No. 2
This article explores the impact of environmental law in US-controlled Micronesia. Historians have suggested that US environmental legislation and legal activism during the 1960s and 1970s often overlooked issues of environmental racism and injustice. This article establishes the importance of these emerging environmental laws for Marshall Islanders living under American rule and subjected to the harms of nuclear weapons testing. In 1972 the displaced people of Enewetak Atoll—a former nuclear test site—sued the United States hoping to stop a new program of conventional weapons testing on their badly contaminated ancestral atoll. The capacious concept of the environment used in the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 and the statute’s ambiguous territorial reach offered islanders important new opportunities to articulate their environmental values and to further their struggles for self-determination over ancestral lands and waters. This article argues that environmental law transcended the artificial territorial boundaries between the United States and its Pacific dependencies, opening up an important new venue of negotiation and conflict over the scope and environmental footprint of US offshore power.
Whereas scholars have thoroughly deconstructed the myth that so-called mainstream environmentalism was born of the first Earth Day in April 1970, we have just begun to explore what happened in the decade following. This article provides a much needed intervention into the scholarship on environmental politics in the 1970s by examining the activities of Friends of the Earth (FOE) in its long first decade (1969–1984). Founded in 1969, FOE synthesized concerns with environmental degradation, human welfare, and democracy into an aggressive political agenda. By the mid-1980s, it had replaced its original critique of corporate capitalism and government intransigence with a pragmatic and reformist analysis that held the central form of political action to be a citizen s petitioning of the state. FOE’s development during its long first decade demonstrates the deliberate and contentious choices by which mainstream environmentalism emerged as a coherent political practice. While these choices have often been taken as a natural or inevitable response to the Reagan administration s assault on environmental protections, FOE’s history demonstrates that these choices were far from inevitable and came at a high cost for mainstream environmentalism’s relationship with grassroots political participation.
This article describes the ways in which Spanish conservationists and environmentalists shaped and challenged state policies during the dictatorship of Francisco Franco. Over the course of the mid-twentieth century, the Franco regime radically transformed the country’s physical and demographic landscapes while limiting opportunities for dissent. Nonetheless, beginning shortly after the Civil War, a small number of highly placed nature enthusiasts and scientists worked within official channels to protect discrete spaces and species. In the process, they legitimized environmental language and ideas that were later adopted by more politicized activists. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, while working-class groups protested the disproportionate impacts of development on their own neighborhoods, left-wing cultural elites embraced similar complaints to overtly link environmental health with the regime’s injustices. This created a progressive discourse, still discernible in contemporary protest politics, in which environmental and social issues were inextricably connected.
Imagined as accessible and portable guides to the kitchen garden, eighteenth-century garden books in the form of encyclopedias, almanacs, and calendars circulated around the Atlantic World attempting to teach gardeners in disparate regions how to interpret and transform their local environments. However, as the horticulturalists were quick to argue, no matter where the garden was located, the key to good gardening was timing: planting, grafting, weeding, and harvesting all depended on the gardener’s sense of time and knowledge of place. Encompassing garden books from the 1680s to the 1820s, and published in England, Scotland, Ireland, and the nascent United States, this article argues that gardening calendars, encyclopedias, and almanacs both in format and content composed a running debate among professional garden authors over how best to represent time on the pages of a book. During this period, scientifically minded practical gardeners wrote against mechanical and regularized time and proposed different methods for finding a more accurate and more universal organic timekeeper. The ideas they proposed, and the solutions they found, did not consciously aim for something called “modern time.” However, their proposals did emphasize the need for portability, universal application, mobility, and standardization in timekeeping technology—all features associated with modern timekeeping. In this transnational environmental history of timekeeping practices, I argue that focusing too heavily on clocks has prevented historians from understanding the myriad other technologies—like the format of a garden calendar or the practice of growing melons in a box of dung—that also contributed to the systematization and standardization of timekeeping in the long eighteenth century.
This is an exciting issue! Not only do we have our usual collection of excellent research articles, Gallery essay, and book reviews, but we’re also introducing a new annual feature, the Film Forum. Each April, thanks to the initiative of our graphics editor Finis Dunaway, Environmental History will provide reviews of several films of interest to our readers. Please see his introduction to this great new offering for more information.
In addition to hosting the first Film Forum, this issue is distinct in that it highlights the work of female scholars. Women have been influential in our field from its outset, with individuals like Carolyn Merchant and Susan Flader helping to shape our analytical approaches through their research and…Read the full Editor’s Note by Lisa Brady here.
Gallery Editors’ Note by Finis Dunaway
Earthrise and the Blue Marble are among the most widely circulated images in the history of photography. Taken almost fifty years ago, these NASA photographs have been celebrated, often in hyperbolic fashion, for transforming human consciousness and inspiring a new sense of responsibility toward our earthly home. In this issue’s Gallery essay, Sara Pritchard looks at more recent NASA images—satellite pictures of Earth at night—to consider the contemporary discourse and visual politics of light pollution. She pays careful attention to NASA’s representational strategies to explain how an image of city lights at night emphasizes, and even exaggerates, the regional differences between Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. Pritchard’s discerning visual analysis opens up broader questions about what is seen and what is hidden in light-pollution imagery. Grounding her argument in histories of colonialism and conservation, she reveals the global power relations at work and offers an alternative reading of the image in terms of lighting poverty. Pritchard powerfully evokes William Cronon’s influential essay, “The Trouble with Wilderness,” by asking readers to reflect upon the trouble with darkness.
Read the full Gallery Essay “The Trouble with Darkness: NASA’s Suomi Satellite Images of Earth at Night“ by Sara B. Pritchard
On December 5, 2012, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) released new images of Earth from space. These striking images of the planet at night, which NASA dubbed the “Black Marble,” showed a dark Earth dotted unevenly with yellow lights. Cities, sprawling suburbs, and industrial corridors are easily visible and recognizable from space; rural and more remote territories are nearly black. The accompanying feature article posted on NASA’s website that day, “Out of the Blue and Into the Black: New Views of the Earth at Night,” played on Neil Young lyrics from 1979, likely suggesting the historical and cultural milieu of many NASA scientists.1 The timing and title were hardly coincidental. On December 7, 1972—almost exactly forty…