Samuel P. Hays
University of Pittsburgh
In the previous section we traced the evolution of environmental circumstance over the course of the past two centuries and looked at the history of urbanization as a crucial aspect of that development. Now we take up a different subject, the self-conscious and deliberate engagement of people with their environment to improve its quality--what is usually called the environmental movement--and the role of cities in it. Just as cities were a major feature of changing environmental circumstance they were also a major source of the new environmental engagement.
The environmental movement was something quite new in American history. While environmental circumstance--the increasing human pressure on a finite environment--evolved continuously throughout these two centuries, the self-conscious human perception and understanding of this process and resulting action appeared in any significant degree only after the mid-20th century. There were a few such observers before that time, and their writings have been resurrected and popularized in the past half-century, and there were many instances in which people objected in specific and often limited cases to environmental degradation. But for the most part the reactions were limited and it was only after World War II that they became more extensive, more systematic and subject to increasing deliberate thought, analysis and action. It is this change in the way in which people looked at the environment around them and sought to transform it that we now call the “environmental movement.”
We can trace this historical development in a rough but convincing way through more popular writings, organizational activity, public affairs, law, education and science. In all of these activities we can identify the old and the new, and environmental affairs constitute an important part of the new. By 1995, in contrast with 1950, environmental science had advanced markedly; environmental education had become popular in elementary and secondary schools as well as in many college curricula. A host of new laws had been passed both to encourage voluntary and regulatory activity, and environmental organizations had arisen at all levels of society, local, state and regional, national and international. While many a publishing house had specialized, in part and some in whole, on environmental subjects, magazines and journals now focused on environmental topics.
Why the change? When did the changes occur and what were their social roots? Among what sectors of society did environmental values arise, through what avenues were the new values transmitted through society, and among what sectors was there resistance to change? It was in the urbanizing areas that the new environmental values had their origin and their strongest support. Rural areas contained their most vigorous opposition. As the areas outside the cities became urbanized in their thought and ideas, they too took up the environmental initiatives. This is not to argue that either cities or the rural areas influenced by urbanized culture were homogenous in these initiatives. Within the cities there was a strong environmental opposition as urban-based interests in both development and environment clashed. And as urban values penetrated the countryside, they were met often with great hostility from those whose values were rooted in commodity-based traditions or from newcomers to rural areas attracted by those traditions. As an overall observation, however, environmental culture was associated with urban people and expanded as urban culture pervaded the nation.
Environmental Movement or Environmental Culture
We have used the popular term “environmental movement” to introduce this subject, but the more useful term in describing its wide ramifications is “environmental culture.” The term “environmental movement” denotes a set of social and political organizations which seek to use government to advance their objectives; typical cases were the labor movement, the civil rights movement, the peace movement. Environmental affairs, however, extend far behind such organized efforts to pervade almost every aspect of society: science, law, education, economic enterprise, the media, homes, daily living, and leisure and recreation. The pervasiveness is so extensive that we must use a term that reflects the way in which it has wormed itself into the entire society. Hence the term “environmental culture.”
We must place all this in the context that such pervasiveness was only partial, that competing cultures co- existed with environmental culture and were continually at odds within people, their communities and wider public affairs. In engaging their environment Americans continually face choices in which environmental quality is often, in any given circumstance, an alternative that is weighed against alternatives. Hence in identifying and exploring the roots of environmental engagement we must place it within this larger context of competition between different directions in human values.
The focus on environmental culture rather than environmental movement requires a distinction between ideologies and values. In historical analysis social movements are closely associated with ideologies. Movements generate ideas, and writers who are taken up by the movement explain its place in the world, its historical roots, its future potential. Such ideas are then used to “spread the word” and attract adherents. The “environmental movement” has spawned its own share of such writers. But environmental engagement goes far beyond environmental ideologies and the writers who articulate them to widely diffused attempts by people to improve their environment--not according to some ideology but according to their own values generated from their personal experience and history. Those involved in environmental affairs act less from ideologies and more from values, from both the way in which they perceive the world and the values they choose to implement.
The stress on environmental ideologies often gives rise to the notion that the course of environmental affairs depends upon the degree to which people adhere to new “environmental paradigms.” Such paradigms are often based on attitude studies in which people express agreement or disagreement with ideas presented to them. One then works out the course of environmental history in terms of the coming and going of these ideas. The stress on environmental values, on the other hand, seeks to identify people in their engagement with their environment as they seek to change and improve it for what they think is the better. Such an approach recognizes not only the emergence of new values in the lives of people but that those new values are also in conflict with older values which they also hold. The course of environmental history is the course of that balance as it is worked out in personal history, community activities and public policy.
From the point of view of environmental culture the historical problem is not just to trace how many join environmental organizations, but to trace the penetration of environmental culture from its beginnings through various institutional routes to its engagement with others of contrary values who either accept those values in varying degrees or reject them. The process has been identified in several public values studies by recognizing the spectrum of environmental values as different “shades of green” and the process then by which people move from one point to another on that spectrum as environmental circumstances and environmental engagement changes. Hence the context of analysis must be far more extensive than simply the examination of a few environmental writers or broadly based environmental “paradigms.” How can this be done?
I make two suggestions here. The first is to avoid concentrating on the few large and widely known national environmental organizations as the basis of one’s analysis. One speaks of the “big twelve” or the “big twenty” whose presence is most visible in the nation’s capital. These are the organizations with the largest membership and most extensive activities. But it is not too difficult to realize that the world of environmental organization goes far beyond the “beltway.” Some estimate that there are 10,000 environmental organizations in the nation at large that often go in very different directions from the large national ones. There are a great number of nationally-organized special topic organizations; several hundred state and regional organizations; innumerable local ones. Few observers ever attempt the complex and laborious task of ferreting out what all this means, but substitute the easier task of either reading the ideas of widely available writers, or focusing on the activities of the “big twenty.” Only if we broaden our attention from the most obvious pieces in the term “social movement” to the wider realm which connotes not environmental movement but environmental engagement and environmental culture will we be able to examine effectively the process of environmental engagement.
The second suggestion is to extend analysis from the organized “movement” to the wide range of institutions into which environmental values have penetrated: science, law, education, the media and economic entrepreneurship. The relationships between these institutions and widely shared public values is more than complex, but it is certainly not simply a reflection of the environmental organizations. For the historian the challenge is to follow what happens in these fields as new values penetrate varied social institutions through their own routes. Students whose values change come to colleges and universities and take up environmental courses. Some are members of the “movement” but most are not. However, they all reflect a new environmental culture which they seek, in one way or another, to implement. To take another instance, as people seek to grapple with environmental circumstances they search out science to understand them. Hence they read about science, study it as a personal matter of self-education, reach out to scientists in academic institutions and generally become part of a new enterprise in environmental science. Many such activities cannot be understood as an attempt to implement environmental ideas, but instead to come to grips with personal values that are elaborated and sustained by an environment that one wishes to engage, to either protect from degradation or to restore.
Within the context of the conventional stress on an “environmental movement” one observes a sharp difference between the world of environmental ideology and the world of environmental practice, so much so that one cannot be taken for the other. People in these two worlds work in realms quite far apart, touching each other only occasionally and tangentially. The thinkers, for the most part, are composed of academics and related intellectuals in the world of writers. The practitioners are far more vast, rarely read the works of the thinkers, and tend to be preoccupied with those ideas that are directly applicable to their circumstances. The thinkers, for the most part, are not well acquainted with the values and perceptions of those engaged in the task of environmental improvement, and the practitioners are not well acquainted with such streams of environmental philosophy such as ecofeminism, bioregionalism, animal rights or decentralization. They do not even express theories of socialism or free enterprise, but willingly take up mixtures of private and public action if they seem to work. They are driven not so much by ideas as by results.
Historical analyses in terms of “environmental culture” extend the range of exploration into wider realms of human activities than does a more confined analysis of “environmental movement.” When we speak of “environmental engagement” we pursue this wider world of environmental affairs. That world is not a rural world but a world of urbanization. It arises from the values of an urban society, and it penetrates a wide range of institutions associated with that society. Hence “environmental culture” whether expressed in either a rural or urban place is a product of large-scale changes in human values and perceptions rooted in the urbanized society of 19th and 20th century America.
The Social Roots of Environmental Engagement
Who expresses environmental values and who does not? To put it differently, what were the distinctive social roots of those values that became stronger after 1950 and how were the people who held those values different from the people who did not? A variety of strategies have been used to pinpoint this problem.
One of these strategies has been to use attitude surveys which seek responses from people of different ages, associations, residence, income, educational levels and other types of demographic characteristics. Another method has been to use voting records in the U.S. House of Representatives to establish patterns of voting which can be associated with characteristics of legislative constituencies. Still another strategy is to distinguish in more qualitative fashion the various states and regions in terms of their environmental cultures and environmental actions. And still another is to examine the interest groups that array themselves around environmental issues by pinpointing the constituencies which they seek to energize and activate. Each of these has some contribution to make to the overall question; each has some limitations. Taken together they provide a basis to identify the social roots of environmental engagement and contribute to the general conclusion that urban-based societies, culture and institutions are sources in the evolution of environmental values and action.
Most environmental attitude surveys are rather crude instruments since they usually focus on generalized environmental attitudes and use only national samples that do not distinguish attitudes by geographical area. Environmental engagement is usually more specific in terms of the particular topic, such as natural values, wildlife, air or water pollution or population, and often is focused in a particular area, state or region. Yet these surveys do point in a direction, that two factors, age and level of education, are associated distinctively with environmental values. Younger people express environmental values more strongly, and older ones more weakly; those with more education express environmental values more strongly than do those with less education. It has been suggested that environmental values are income-related, rising with rising incomes. This does not seem to be the case; age and educational levels are more important.
A few studies dig into the demographics more deeply. Some divide the nation into regions and develop samples for each region. These do not sort out urban and rural areas, but they do indicate broad regional circumstances associated with environmental values. The most significant study in this vein involved an attitude scale ranging from natural values on one end to commodity/development values on the other. One part of the study which distinguished four regions within the United States found that the highest natural values were in the Northern states of the East, the Pacific Coast and the Mountain West, and the lowest natural values were in the southern states. Another part associated a national sample with these same values and found that those toward the natural end of the scale had the highest level of values favorable to science and those toward the commodity/development end had, in contrast, the highest level of values favorable to religion.
Some data focuses on the urban-rural differences more precisely. One study in Minnesota examined where those who allocated state income tax refunds to state wildlife programs lived; those in and around Minneapolis/St. Paul made higher contributions than did those in less urbanized and more rural areas. Still another study identified the personnel of the U.S. Forest Service in terms of both the subject of their professional specialization and their urban-rural background. Engineers and “foresters” were older and more rural in background; ecological specialists, such as in botany, wildlife biology, ecology, were younger and more urban.
A more precise examination of values involves use of voting scores in the U.S. House of Representatives over a period of years to associate levels of environmental voting with the characteristics of legislative constituencies. This enables one to examine the association of values with levels of urbanization. Regions of higher levels were New England, New York and New Jersey, the northern Great Lakes states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota, the Pacific Coast states and Florida. The lower level regions are the western Gulf States, the Plains States and the Mountain States of the West. One can then sort out smaller areas within these regions which indicate a consistent rural-urban pattern. Within the Mountain West, for example, urban areas produce higher pro-environmental voting scores than do rural areas; the pattern holds within states such as California and Texas, Nebraska, Colorado and Kansas in which members of Congress from more urbanized constituencies have higher environmental scores than do those from less urbanized ones.
Patterns of political relationships which arise from the interplay of interest groups are consistent with these patterns from the legislative voting. In this case they are much sharper. Those environmental organizations that express environmental objectives directly in their political action have a distinctively urban base. The largest Sierra Club chapters and groups, for example (the organization that is most active politically), are in the cities, east and west. At the same time the most vigorous anti-environmental interest groups are those that represent agricultural and commodity activities such as lumbering, ranching and mining.
This relatively hard evidence, expressed in quantitative terms or through interest groups are confirmed by qualitative evidence arising from a variety of sources: media reporting, the relative strength or weakness of citizen environmental activity, the curriculum in higher education, the presence of exploratory environmental science devoted to pushing back the environmental unknowns, the relative strength or weakness of public policies in various states, or the degree to which the voting public supports environmental referenda. An accumulation of such evidence both confirms the quantitative data and rounds out its meaning. Environmental values are nurtured by modern urban society and meet resistance from an older society based on a resource commodity economy.
Several overall conclusions arise from these attempts to identify the social/demographic basis of environmental values. One concerns values expressed by individuals, that environmental values are stronger among younger people and the more highly educated. This second factor seems to hold up through the M.A. level of education but not beyond. The second is that these values are generated and nurtured in an urban context and, hence become expressed more fully in a political system that organizes the expression of political views by geographical areas. Elected representatives from more urbanized areas express these values amid the many and varied demands that arise from urban voters while those from less urbanized areas tend to oppose them.
Values in Environmental Engagement
The driving force in the new interest in shaping improved levels of environmental quality were human and social values that took on an increasing level of importance in the second half of the 20th century. These values are the other side of the coin from demography. While demography provides some idea as to the social context of environmental engagement, we can translate that social context into the people whose values, perceptions and ideas become the driving force behind a desire for environmental change. While the nation’s growing urbanization provides the context for human values and action, we can obtain a more precise view of environmental engagement by focusing on the values, perceptions and ideas directly.
Three sets of values were involved in environmental engagement. One pertained to the aesthetic quality of the human environment and more specifically to the enhanced role of nature in an urbanized society. Another pertained to health and the reduction of levels of pollution that impaired human health and the resources of nature. Still a third pertained to the larger question of the sustainability of quality of life and whether or not higher levels of population and consumption jeopardized that quality of life in the long-run. For the most part these values played quite a limited role in earlier rural societies, and became increasingly important in the values and thinking of those in the American urbanized society.
One environmental objective was to bring more of the natural world into the modern urbanized society. There were many such attempts, ranging from those which sought to bring the natural into the highly developed parts of cities, to those that sought to establish and protect natural beachheads within the urban region and the countryside, to those that sought to protect from development parts of the nation’s wildlands. Many specific programs were involved such as the Conservation Commissions and open space programs of the 1960s; wilderness, wild and scenic rivers and hiking trails of the 1970s; state natural area programs, strategies to enhance nongame wildlife and endangered species; rails to trails programs; land conservancies, now numbering over 1000; environmental education and natural history programs; the growth of interest in biodiversity; urban gardening and urban forestry; the great number of state and county referenda to approve spending for open space and natural areas.
The examples are legion and they all add up to the notion that urban people wish to incorporate into urban society a larger amount of nature. The role of such activities in the modern world is subject to considerable differences of interpretation by the environmental intellectuals and the environmental practitioners. Environmental intellectuals have wrestled philosophically with the historical relationship between people and nature and some environmental philosophy is cast in terms of a benign nature disrupted by rapacious humans, with the argument that such activities involve a desire to return to that earlier nature. But people engaged in expanding the role of nature in modern society and hence their own quality of life, aim not to “return” to an earlier nature but to “advance” to an enhanced role for nature in an urban society. While the intellectuals ask: “Is there a role for humans amid nature?” the practitioners ask” “Is there a role for nature amid humans?” Such practitioners do not reject urbanized society in favor of nature but seek to supplement one aspect of their lives with another that is more natural.
The values involved in this approach to nature are quite different from the values involved in the role of nature in a more rural society. Rural peoples stressed the extraction of resources as commodities for material use; urban peoples add to this the preservation of resources for appreciative use to enhance the quality of life. The two types of uses involve quite different values, and transition in values over the years is quite sharply defined. At one time, forested areas were thought of in negative terms and “wilderness” indicated a place of danger; now wilderness and forested areas are thought of in positive terms. At one time wetlands were thought of as impediments to beneficial use and should be drained for agriculture; now wetlands are thought of in positive terms and their loss through drainage as harmful. The most extreme case is that of predators, which earlier were only to be exterminated; now some are protected and thought of as valuable in the “wild” despite instances of harm to humans who venture into the wilds.
Alongside the attempt to enhance nature in an urbanizing society was the equal attempt to enhance human health as a major element of quality of life. This also involved major changes in values, a shift from a predominant concern for avoidance of death to growing interest in enhanced levels of physical and mental well being so as to make life more enjoyable. People sought out ways in which they could enhance their health through their own lifestyles and sought out medical advisors who could facilitate those goals. Part of that process was ensuring a more healthful environment in such matters as air and water pollution.
Several changes in demography and health science enhanced this transformation in values. One was the increasing length of life through the decrease in infant mortality and the reduction of adult disease. Interest grew in child development and in reducing the effect of pollutant exposures on the neurological potential of young children. As the population aged, a growing interest also arose in the quality of life beyond the income-earning years, expressed not only in longer life for the elderly, but in extending the years of creative human activity beyond age 65 or 70. Environmental hazards had long been common in the workplace, but now the adverse effects of pollutants at all ages and for both women and men came to the fore.
Interest in both the beneficial role of nature in an urbanized society and physical fitness for pleasure and health came to the entire nation, but it was spearheaded in the cities. Rapid communication such as television facilitated the spread of new values from urban to rural areas, but at the same time more traditional values held on tenaciously in rural areas. As environmental values became more widely expressed, therefore, and as the organized environmental movement took shape, it developed a distinctively urban-rural tension and it was quite easy for organizations and political leaders based in the older rural societies to look upon the newer environmental initiatives as threats to their values. The Rocky Mountain West was a particularly distinctive setting for this controversy as it seemed not only to continue to express traditional values, but to attract as newcomers those from elsewhere who expressed such values and sought the western setting as a greater opportunity to do so.
One of the more significant features of the evolution of environmental values, was the degree to which people in cities often found the countryside and the wildlands outside the cities to be a more congenial place in which to realize those values. In the 19th century the countryside was often sought out as a more healthful place to which those with lung diseases, for example, might go for recovery and rehabilitation. At the same time the countryside was a place where recreation in the natural world could also be beneficial for both mind and body. In those years it was primarily those urbanites of upper incomes who could enjoy the countryside. But in the 20th century, with the advent of the automobile a much wider sector of society could afford to do so and in the 1920’s and therefore an increasing number of city folk found that time spent in the countryside was both pleasing and healthful.
For some urbanites these attempts to enjoy and benefit from the countryside were only occasional visits during weekends and vacations. For many others automobile transportation and cheaper cars, such as the Model T, enabled them to extend the range of their forays into the more natural world and even to acquire a small piece of land there for more regular visits. Some young people from the cities sought to carve out homes in rural areas through homesteading and obtaining a living from the land; this segment of new rural families grew steadily but slowly and at a pace that was less than the growth of urban areas. And increasingly retirees sought out the more natural countryside as a place to enjoy their lives. In all of these cases people whose values had been nurtured in the cities now extended them to the countryside.
Environment and Development: The Context of Engagement
The expression of environmental values and the evolution of environmental culture can be understood only in terms of its engagement with opposing values associated with developmental rather than environmental objectives. If one wishes to enhance the role of nature in modern society, one faces the continual process of the substitution of development for the natural world in which the natural world seems to be in retreat in the face of a developmental steam roller. If one wishes to enhance human health and the health of the natural world by restricting exposures to toxic chemicals then one faces the continual, and even expansive, diffusion of those chemicals into the atmosphere, waters and the land. In one’s own life there are choices between the desire to improve one’s quality of life by improving one’s environment and the desire for more comfortable physical surroundings.
If one observes only one side of this tension one cannot understand the way in which environmental engagement takes place. It is not a matter of two clear-cut opposing philosophies in contention but more a matter of mixtures which move along a scale in terms of continual interaction between tendencies at times working together but frequently in conflict. It is not the ideologies that define the historical setting which one must examine, but the alternative ways of shaping and using one’s environment. And the results are varied. In some cases one notes environmental improvement as a result of engagement; in other cases one notes continued environmental degradation.
The drama of environmental history thus reveals a complex interaction of directions in human values, one in which environmental values and environmental engagement have steadily become more entwined into the nation’s culture but which, rather than emerging dominant and triumphant, remains engaged in vigorous tension with opposing values. Here we examine this process, as a major feature of environmental history first within the world of cities themselves, then through urban and rural conflicts, and then within the countryside as urban values develop there to engage more traditional and non-environmental values. In each case, the world of urbanization and the transition from a more rural to a more urbanized society becomes the central setting of environmental history.
Within cities one could observe from their early history both the desire to enhance the role of modern industrial production for its benefit in terms of jobs and income, and the desire to enhance the role of the city for its benefits as a place to live. In their earlier years, cities attracted people for job opportunities and in many a case people tolerated the resulting environmental degradation as a price to pay for the improvement in one’s material standard of living. Quite early, people sought to live in more pleasant and healthful surroundings. In those years few could find such surroundings in rural areas, but primarily found them by living in more attractive places within the city. Hence the beginnings of the process we call suburbanization.
As environmental culture grew in the last half of the 20th century its urban manifestation can be seen in the attempt to define cities more fully as attractive places to live rather than just as places to work, and many developments in urban areas reflect that desire. Yet, at the same time, there were powerful tendencies within cities to define their futures in terms of higher levels of production and incomes, and those who sought to define the city in terms of quality of life often found themselves with only limited constituencies. Environmental quality of life concerns appeared to take a back seat to enthusiasm about future economic development, and economic developers usually thought of environmental considerations as a constraint to their objectives rather than as an integral part of them.
Those with environmental objectives might wish to enhance the role of nature in their cities; persistently, they sought to but with only limited success because of the continual pressures for the economic benefits of development. Or they sought to improve human environmental health within the cities and while they succeeded in reducing the gross and obvious pollution in air, water and land, they had far more difficulty when it came to the persistent effects of chronic low-level exposures. The consequence of these tensions was that most cities did not generate self-conscious attempts to analyze, report regularly, and develop plans for environmental improvement. Such activities came only through sporadic and limited forays that over the long run added up to some environmental improvement but amid great odds.
Opposition to environmental objectives in the countryside came with greater clarity. For in this case people in the countryside found that urban initiatives in the use of the countryside for urban-based objectives were frequently not to their liking and many an issue pitted urban-based and rural-based proposals against each other. The organization of the political impulses involved could be best observed in the state legislatures as representatives of areas of different degrees of urbanization developed different positions over different public policies on issues such as natural values, the disposal of urban pollution and waste, control of sources of pollution or use of public funds to foster environmental objectives.
As environmental initiatives proceeded to place a value on nature and natural lands, many an issue revealed the differences between the rural preference for natural resource development and the urban preference for natural resource appreciation. Management of public lands and waters led to the same controversies: should they be developed and used for commodity production or should they remain in a more natural condition? Should public resources such as parks be used for the enhancement of jobs in the surrounding rural areas, or for nature appreciation? Should the focus of wildlands management be the production of game for hunting or the appreciation and study of diverse ecological resources?
The vast increase in the production of urban waste areas raised questions of waste disposal and this almost always led to an option attractive to urban areas--to dispose of it “out there.” This took several forms such as the use of rivers for water-borne waste, or the diffusion of urban air pollution away from cities to fall in the countryside elsewhere, or the transport of solid municipal and industrial waste to landfills in the countryside. Cities as sources of waste sought to dispose of it in the countryside. People in rural areas objected and sought to use zoning powers to prevent such siting; cities, in turn, sought to use state governments to override local zoning decisions. At one time or another all of these entered into legislative debate, and rural legislators either objected to the adverse impact of urban-based waste on their communities, or the application of standards of environmental protection in their areas when the problem was an urban problem, or the use of tax dollars which they contributed to the cost of clean-up in the state as a whole.
Still a third set of political tensions arose as people from cities and with urban-based values moved into the countryside to express their environmental objectives from within rural areas. At times newcomers came to grips with farmers who sought to dispose of their waste in ways that degraded streams. At other times they objected to the adverse impact of smell and noise from farming operations. Or as newcomers purchased woodlands for their enjoyment they excluded hunters from their lands. They came to the countryside also with ideas about using the natural lands around them for recreation or nature observation. They objected to increases in timber harvest which might compromise aesthetic objectives or led to the decline in wildlife habitat. As time went on newer rural people sought to emphasize a wider range of appreciation for wildlife objectives in contrast with commodity/hunting objectives.
These environmental objectives often were folded into the enhancement of tourism in the countryside by accommodating those environmental values which could be commercialized. Thus, for example, old growth forests might be sources of income from those who sought to view the neo-tropical songbirds that might be present there; museums and research centers featuring raptors or wolves or bighorn sheep might be community economic assets; trails to accommodate bicyclists and hikers could provide business for bike shops, restaurants and bed-and- breakfast facilities. Rural people often were reluctant to approve tourism but gradually were drawn into it if and when it led to profitable rural business. At the same time tourism led to other issues such as the way in which natural area designations withdrew land from the local tax rolls, or clean-up of waste left by tourists increased the costs of local government.
While philosophical debates over environment and development were lively among the environmental intelligentsia who sought clarity from examining broad patterns of ideas, most of those who searched for enhanced environmental quality in their own lives fostered objectives with less overall clear-cut objectives. One thrust toward environmental improvement might foster environmental degradation. It was easy for the environmental opposition to identify such inconsistencies and denigrate them. Yet it was rather remarkable that environmental values and environmental culture continued to persist in personal lives, communities and public policies. It was also clear, however, that the direction of change would involve a continual tension between an advancing environmental culture and those who held contrary values. To examine these tensions most fully one can place them not within contexts of ideas abstracted from circumstance but from the world of people who, in grappling with their environment, sought to enhance environmental values as incremental improvement.