Aggressive Mimicry: Wise Use and the Environmental Movement

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Environmental Communication Yearbook



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Since the first Earth Day in 1970, as Phil Brick explained, "The U.S. environmental movement has enjoyed high levels of public support, fighting for tougher laws to protect the nation's air, water, and natural resources" (1995, p. 17). By the early 1980s, the discourse of the environmental movement with its earth icon, naturescapes, recycle symbol, and pro-nature slogans was firmly embedded into the consciousness and conscience of most Americans. Seven percent of Americans described themselves as being "environmentally active," 55% said they were "sympathetic with the aims of the movement," and 45% felt that protecting the environment was "so important that requirements and standards [could not] be too high and continuing environmental improvements [should] be made regardless of cost" (Sale, 1993, p. 44). The movement's legislative focus brought it into direct conflict with natural resource industries, outdoor recreation groups, and landowners who felt that environmental laws were violating their interests. Surprisingly, not until the formation of the Wise Use movement in the 1980s did these counterenvironmental entities begin to work as a successful coalition to fight environmental regulation. As Wise Use leader Ron Arnold proudly boasted in The New York Times, "No one was aware that environmentalism was a problem until we came along" (Egan, 1995, p. A18).

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