Love Canal Across the Centuries

  In the 1970s, residents of a Niagara Falls neighborhood realized that chemicals from a toxic waste dump had leached into their homes, parks, and neighborhood school. Their cancers, miscarriages, and myriad chronic ailments told the tale, and in 1978 they organized, filed lawsuits, and demanded intervention. The federal government eventually complied, evacuating the residents…

Environmental Battles on the Missile Range

Just west of Alamogordo, New Mexico, the site of the first atomic test in 1945, there is an enormous stretch of land that is off-limits to civilians, known as White Sands Missile Range. Since the Second World War, White Sands has been a notorious military proving ground. Not limited to any one armed service, the…

The Wetlands Shall Rise Again!

The English language has not been kind to wetlands. We have swamps, bogs, quagmires, mires, and morasses. These are not words that call to mind productive landscapes. Such terms describe wet or inundated natural areas but they also double as metaphors for being stuck—-being bogged down, swamped with work, in a tangled morass of problems,…

World War II and the Environment

“World War II was wide ranging in its human, animal, and material destruction, it halted certain political ideologies in their tracks and strengthened others, and entailed the mobilization of natural resources on an unprecedented scale.  And yet scholars have been slow to assess the war’s environmental dimensions.” So begins my recent essay on the environmental…

Roundtable: Quagmire

Vietnam and “the environment” seem to go hand in hand.  After all, the experience of the Vietnam War is a fundamental chapter in most narratives of the rise of global environmental consciousness.  The environmental movement of the 1960s and early 1970s shared many of the same participants with the movement against the Vietnam War.  Some…

Are Real-Time Strategy Games ‘Environmental’?

“Nice Guys End Up With Madagascar.” This was the phrase on the back of the box for one of the most addictive strategy games of the late 1980s, Lords of Conquest, by Electronic Arts.  I played this as a teenager and, looking back from this era of virtual-world games, I’m a little surprised at how…

Let's Get Realpolitik about the Global Environment

As we head into the London summer Olympics of 2012, we can pause to reflect upon  what happened four years ago in Beijing, as one of the world’s largest-scale polluters cleaned up its capital for the moment when all eyes were upon it.  It seems like we will see countless flashbacks of that memorable opening…