Lessons for an Endangered Movement: What a Historical Juxtaposition of the Legal Response to Civil Rights and Environmentalism Has to Teach Environmentalists Today
142 Pages Posted: 30 Apr 2010
Date Written: May 7, 2001
Environmentalism and civil rights are the twentieth century’s two most important social movements, yet despite their divergent histories, they today share a common position - one where waning public support has placed both movements in potential peril. As environmentalists face the challenges of the new millennium, a careful examination of the movement’s similarities to and differences from civil rights may yield important lessons for how environmentalists might reverse their apparent trajectory and reforge the backing needed to protect the planet’s health. Embarking on this analysis by tracing the history of America’s legal response to the two movements, this Article attempts to provide such guidance. Specifically, the Article concludes that environmentalists would do well to avoid zero-sum politics, shun being characterized as a fringe element of society, recognize the current paradigm of compromise in which they operate, revitalize the use of cooperative federalism in environmental regulation, seek other forums to enforce laws, and make environmental education one of the movement’s highest priorities.
Keywords: Environmentalism, environmental law, civil rights, history of environmentalism, social movements, social change, cooperative federalism, Wise Use Movement, brownlash
JEL Classification: K30, K32, N50, N51, N52
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation