The Roots of American Environmentalism: Background information when reading Toms River

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Toms River

A Story of Science and Salvation

by Dan Fagin

Toms River by Dan Fagin
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  • First Published:
    Mar 2013, 560 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2015, 576 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Elizabeth Whitmore Funk

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About this Book

Beyond the Book:
The Roots of American Environmentalism

Print Review

As Fagin shows readers through the specific events in Toms River, environmental and ecological concerns began to receive attention in American politics in the 1960s and 1970s. The creation of the Department of Environmental Protection (now the Environmental Protection Agency) was heavily encouraged, in part, by individuals across America who, like the residents of Toms River, feared for the well-being of their region and themselves.

Rachel Carson's Silent Spring Investigative journalists played a significant role in spearheading the movement by reporting on the dangers of environmental toxins, deforestation, nuclear testing, and other ecological damage. Most notable among literary works was the 1962 Silent Spring, an exposé by marine biologist Rachel Carson. Her exploration of the negative effects of pesticides was one of the factors that led to the national ban on DDT, and her work is often credited with creating the public awareness that was needed to bring about social and political change.

This concern from the general public about environmental health also led to the establishment of numerous nonprofits in the 60s and 70s, such as Greenpeace, the World Wildlife Fund for Nature, the League of Conservation Voters, and the Union for Concerned Scientists. In 1970 Senator Nelson from Wisconsin was inspired to establish Earth Day after he witnessed the worst oil spill of the time, off the coast of California. So many of these actions are still pertinent to American politics today, and as Fagin reminds us, are valuable things to remember when we look towards the health and well-being of our future.

Picture from Audubon Magazine's blog

This article was originally published in March 2013, and has been updated for the April 2015 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

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