SCIENCES

The Ecocentrists: A History of Radical Environmentalism

Columbia Univ. Jun. 2018. 392p. notes. index. ISBN 9780231165884. $35; ebk. ISBN 9780231547154. NAT HIST
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OrangeReviewStarWoodhouse (history, Northwestern Univ.) offers an intellectual history of U.S. environmentalism, focusing on the expansion of the Sierra Club in the 1960s through the evolution of a radical environmental movement that emerged in the 1980s, Earth First! The author chronicles the struggles within the Sierra Club as its leadership sought to address relevant conservation issues within the context of a society that was experiencing economic growth and demanding societal equality. By the first Earth Day in April 1970, the conservation movement was an "environmental" movement and people were concerned about myriad issues, including population growth, immigration, and preservation of wilderness. Radicals within the movement began to focus on ecocentrism; a belief that human beings and nonhuman nature were equal and that nonhuman interests must be considered in human decision making. Whereas mainstream environmental groups worked within the political system, these individuals took more direct action. They questioned entrenched values, such as material progress, yet often neglected to address issues such as social justice.
VERDICT This outstanding and extensively researched work covers a wide range of ideas and personalities; an essential addition for all environmental collections.
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