by Andrew Szasz
University of Minnesota Press, 1994
Paper: 978-0-8166-2175-0 | Cloth: 978-0-8166-2174-3
Library of Congress Classification GE170.S97 1994
Dewey Decimal Classification 363.7


Moment by moment the evidence mounts that unchecked modern industry is bringing us ever closer to environmental disaster. How can we move away from the brink of extinction, toward a human society the earth can bear? In the thriving popular politics of hazardous waste, Andrew Szasz finds an answer, a scenario for taking the most pressing environmental issues out of the academy and the boardroom and turning them into everyone's business.

This book reconstructs the growth of a powerful movement around the question of toxic waste. Szasz follows the issue as it moves from the world of "official" policymaking in Washington, onto the nation's television screens and into popular consciousness, and then into America's neighborhoods, spurring the formation of thousands of local, community-based groups. He shows how, in less than a decade, a rich infrastructure of more permanent social organizations emerged from this movement, expanding its focus to include issues like municipal waste, military toxics, and pesticides. In the growth of this movement, we witness the birth of a radical environmental populism. Here Szasz identifies the force that pushed environmental policy away from the traditional approach, pollution removal, toward the superior logic of pollution prevention. He discusses the conflicting official responses to the movement's evolution, revealing that, despite initial resistance, lawmakers eventually sought to appease popular discontent by strengthening toxic waste laws. In its success, Szasz suggests, this movement may even prove to be the vehicle for reinvigorating progressive politics in the United States.