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The Wild and the ToxicAmerican Environmentalism and the Politics of Health$
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Jennifer Thomson

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781469651996

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469651996.001.0001

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Friends of the Earth and Environmental Health

Friends of the Earth and Environmental Health

(p.16) Chapter One Friends of the Earth and Environmental Health
(p.iii) The Wild and the Toxic

Jennifer Thomson

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter discusses the long first decade of environmental organization Friends of the Earth (1969-1984). Founded by David Brower, FOE's central contribution to environmentalism was to move from the Sierra Club's understanding of wilderness as a retreat within which certain individuals' health could be regenerated, to thinking of human health as a litmus test for the health of the environment. Although the more systemic and anti-authoritarian of these approaches faded by the early 1980s, others pertaining to consumption and individual health persisted within mainstream environmentalism. The result was a politics in which the primary subject position was held by an undifferentiated, globalized, non-place-specific consumer in need of governmental protection yet also responsible for ensuring her own health through proper consumer choices. FOE's development during its long first decade illustrates the growing importance of individualized, consumer-based conceptions of health to the consolidation, in the early 1980s, of the environmental lobby in Washington, D.C.

Keywords:   Friends of the Earth, David Brower, Sierra Club, Environmentalism

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