1st Edition

American Environmentalism Philosophy, History, and Public Policy

By J. Michael Martinez Copyright 2014
    432 Pages 21 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Protecting the natural environment and promoting sustainability have become important objectives, but achieving such goals presents myriad challenges for even the most committed environmentalist. American Environmentalism: Philosophy, History, and Public Policy examines whether competing interests can be reconciled while developing consistent, coherent, effective public policy to regulate uses and protection of the natural environment without destroying the national economy. It then reviews a range of possible solutions.

    The book delves into key normative concepts that undergird American perspectives on nature by providing an overview of philosophical concepts found in the western intellectual tradition, the presuppositions inherent in neoclassical economics, and anthropocentric (human-centered) and biocentric (earth-centered) positions on sustainability. It traces the evolution of attitudes about nature from the time of the Ancient Greeks through Europeans in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, the Enlightenment and the American Founders, the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and up to the present. Building on this foundation, the author examines the political landscape as non-governmental organizations (NGOs), industry leaders, and government officials struggle to balance industrial development with environmental concerns.

    Outrageous claims, silly misrepresentations, bogus arguments, absurd contentions, and overblown prophesies of impending calamities are bandied about by many parties on all sides of the debate—industry spokespeople, elected representatives, unelected regulators, concerned citizens, and environmental NGOs alike. In lieu of descending into this morass, the author circumvents the silliness to explore the crucial issues through a more focused, disciplined approach. Rather than engage in acrimonious debate over minutiae, as so often occurs in the context of "green" claims, he recasts the issue in a way that provides a cohesive look at all sides. This effort may be quixotic, but how else to cut the Gordian knot?

    Philosophical Ideas and Concepts
    Concepts of Nature in the Western Intellectual Tradition
    Natural Rights and Natural Law
    Kantianism as an Alternative to Utilitarianism
    Ethical Egoism and Social Darwinism
    Environmental Justice
    Conclusion: Where Do We Go from Here?

    Neoclassical Economics
    The Rise of Neoclassical Economics
    Economics, Public Policy, and the Freedom-Authority Divide
    Efficiency versus Equity: An Unbridgeable Gulf?

    Environmental Ethics: An Overview
    Anthropocentrism, Neoclassical Economics, and the Scientific Method
    Weak Sustainability
    Strong Sustainability
    Ecological Sustainability
    Normative Sustainability
    Intrinsic Value Theory and Its Discontents
    The Ethical Dilemma in a Nutshell

    Pre-American Attitudes about the Natural Environment
    The Ancient Greeks
    The Biblical Tradition
    Europeans in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance
    Native Americans
    Conclusion: The March of Anthropocentric Progress

    The Enlightenment and the American Founders
    The Enlightenment Project
    John Locke, the Social Contract, and Private Property
    American Enlightenment Figures
    Humanity and Classification
    The Enlightenment: Friend or Foe of Environmentalism?

    The Nineteenth Century
    Lewis and Clark and the Advent of Manifest Destiny
    John James Audubon—The Ornithologist as Environmental Steward
    Henry David Thoreau on Government and Society
    The Gilded Age and American Urbanization

    The Twentieth Century
    Progressivism and Twentieth-Century Social Movements
    John Muir, Gifford Pinchot, Theodore Roosevelt, and the Preservation-Conservation Debate
    From Progressivism to the New Deal: The Evolving Role of Government in Natural-Resource Protection
    Environmental Activism Comes of Age
    The Rise of the Modern American Environmental Movement

    Environmental Interest Groups
    The Interest-Group Theory of Democracy

    Well-Known Environmental Groups in the American Landscape
    The Strengths and Weaknesses of the NGO Model

    The Foundations of Twenty-First-Century Sustainability
    Famous International Conferences and Agreements
    American Environmental Law in a Federal System
    Management Systems, Standards Organizations, and Certifications
    Environmentalism for Dummies

    Conclusion: The Path Forward
    Common Pitfalls
    The Quest for Energy and Its Environmental Consequences
    Who Pays and Who Plays
    Tradeoffs and Choices: Life Cycle Management (LCM)



    J. Michael Martinez began his career in the private practice of law. He later earned a Ph.D. in political science and a second Ph.D. in public administration. Martinez’s scholarly work has appeared in numerous academic publications, including Administration & Society; The American Review of Public Administration; The Georgia Historical Quarterly; The Journal of Environment & Development; The Journal of Medicine and Philosophy; The Journal of Policy History; Nonprofit Management & Leadership; Politics & Policy; and The South Dakota Law Review, among others. He also has co-edited and contributed chapters to three academic texts: Ethics and Character: The Pursuit of Democratic Virtues (Carolina Academic Press, 1998); Confederate Symbols in the Contemporary South (University Press of Florida, 2000); and The Leviathan’s Choice: Capital Punishment in the Twenty-first Century (Rowman & Littlefield, 2002). He has written three books on Southern history: Life and Death in Civil War Prisons (Rutledge Hill Press, 2004), a selection of the History Book Club; Carpetbaggers, Cavalry, and the Ku Klux Klan: Exposing the Invisible Empire During Reconstruction ( Rowman & Littlefield, 2007); and Coming for to Carry Me Home: Race in America from Abolitionism to Jim Crow (Rowman & Littlefield, 2012). His other books include Administrative Ethics in the Twenty-first Century (with William D. Richardson; Peter Lang Publishers, 2008), Public Administration Ethics for the Twenty-first Century (Praeger, 2009), and Terrorist Attacks on American Soil: From the Civil War Era to the Present (Rowman & Littlefield, 2012).

    Since 1992, Martinez has worked in the Government Affairs & Environment Department at Dart Container Corporation, a leading manufacturer of disposable foodservice products. During the 1990s, he taught political science at Georgia State University and environmental law at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School. He now teaches political science, criminal justice, and public administration courses as a part-time faculty member at Kennesaw State University, the University of South Dakota, and the University of Georgia, respectively. From 1988 until 1992, he was on the staff of the Southern States Energy Board, a non-profit interstate compact organization that researches energy and environmental laws and regulations

    "American Environmentalism thoughtfully explores the many balances and policies that have guided environmentalists throughout our country’s history. J. Michael Martinez tells us that ‘tradeoffs’ and ‘accommodations’ are not dirty words; they permit new solutions to new problems as America continues to trace progress."
    —Matthew M. McKenna, President and Chief Executive Officer, Keep America Beautiful, Inc.

    "This sweeping introduction to American environmentalism presents its salient historical and philosophical features in an insightful overview that displays its continuity over centuries."
    —Mark Sagoff, Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy, Director of the Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy, George Mason University, and author of The Economy of the Earth: Philosophy, Law, and the Environment, Second Edition

    "American Environmentalism is a fascinating review of the history of the environmental movement. Martinez’s inspired use of intellectual tools like critical thinking, systems analysis, and the scientific method set this book apart and make it a must read for legislators, the media, and others who are seriously interested in understanding and solving our biggest environmental dilemmas."
    —Robert Lilienfeld, editor of The ULS Report and co-author (with William L. Rathje) of Use Less Stuff: Environmental Solutions for Who We Really Are

    "Martinez clearly grasps the impact of American environmentalism that is changing our world. As we all encounter the many aspects of the environmental movement impacting our businesses, make sure you access his keen thinking and analysis."
    —William R. Carteaux, President and Chief Executive Officer, SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association