Forging Hegemony: How Recycling Became a Popular but Inadequate Response to Accumulating Waste

Andrew Boardman Jaeger (2018). “Forging Hegemony: How Recycling Became a Popular but Inadequate Response to Accumulating Waste.” Social Problems, 65(3), 395-415.

Abstract: Over the past 40 years, the scale of environmental problems has increased to monumental proportions, while environmental politics has shrunk to the micro level. Injunctions for each individual to “do their part” by modifying their lifestyle and consumption habits multiplied, while collective action and policies targeting environmental degradation at the point of production diminished. This “individualization” of environmental politics has been described and critiqued, but no convincing explanation for it presented. In this article, I explore its origins through an historical case study of the paradigmatic example of individualized environmentalism: recycling. I wield original empirical material to both challenge and sharpen prevailing accounts of recycling’s institutionalization and to theorize the broader trend of individualization. Drawing on Antonio Gramsci’s theory of hegemony, I advance the thesis that the individualization of environmental politics is due to their skillful management by key corporate interests. In order to deter costly legislation, producers have created and implemented solutions that appeal to environmentalists’ concerns, yet in a way that defines individual consumers, not producers, as the source of environmental degradation. The lack of a mass environmental movement enabled producers to organize these solutions on the fertile grounds of civil society.

Who Was the Real Lorax? Seeking the Inspiration for Dr. Seuss

Read the full story in the New York Times.

A new essay explores the possible real-life examples for the Lorax character and Truffula trees.

How pool owners can save the lives of frogs

Read the full story at Mother Nature Network.

Mason is passionate about wildlife, so he decided to do something to help animals escape certain death. His solution was to create a simple but effective escape route from a swimming pool. His wife, Barb, named it the FrogLog. The device consists of a mesh strip attached to a semi-circular floating foam pad with a mesh ramp that extends from the pad over the edge of the pool to the pool deck. A weighted pad attached to the end of the ramp on the pool deck holds the FrogLog in place.


What Trump’s plan to roll back fuel-economy standards means for your wallet and the environment

Read the full story from PBS.

On Thursday, the Trump administration released a set of proposals to roll back Obama-era rules on fuel efficiency for vehicles and challenge state laws on greenhouse gas regulation.

If its primary proposal moves forward after a 60-day comment period, it would freeze fuel efficiency requirements and carbon standards through 2026 — substantially easing financial pressure on automakers but mounting a roadblock for reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that are driving climate change.

Here’s a look at what the new standards might mean, both for your wallet and the environment. Transportation, remember, is the leading source of carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S.

Opinion: The ‘Job-Killing’ Fiction Behind Trump’s Retreat on Fuel Economy Standards

Read the full story at e360.

The Trump administration is expected to roll back the fuel economy standards that were a signature achievement of the Obama administration. The move won’t save auto industry jobs, but it will increase air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

Five myths about Trump’s fuel economy freeze

Read the full story in the San Francisco Chronicle.

The Trump administration has proposed freezing planned increases in fuel mileage standards for cars and blocking California’s ability to set its own standards. Some basic myths and facts about the move.

To See How Levees Increase Flooding, We Built Our Own

Read the full story at Pro Publica.

ProPublica and Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting hired engineers at the St. Anthony Falls Laboratory at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis to build a physical model of four levee scenarios to see how levee height and placement choices can put surrounding communities on the floodplain — the low-lying land near river channels — at greater risk of flooding.

Trump Officials Link Fuel Economy Rules to Deadly Crashes. Experts Are Skeptical.

Read the full story in the New York Times.

Can we improve fuel economy without sacrificing vehicle safety? That’s one contentious issue at the center of the debate over federal fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks.

The Obama administration concluded the answer was yes and issued strict rules in 2012 that would have required automakers to roughly double the fuel economy of new cars, S.U.V.s and pickup trucks by 2025.

But the Trump administration, in its big new proposal to roll back those rules, is now arguing the opposite: Forcing automakers to build cleaner cars will lead to more highway accidents and deaths.

For Marine Life, New Threats from a Fast-Tracked Canadian Pipeline

Read the full story in e360.

A new Canadian government-backed pipeline that will triple the amount of thick Alberta tar sands oil flowing to a British Columbia port poses significant risks for a threatened population of killer whales and other coastal marine life.

Beyond the clinic — describing success in environmental health

Read the full story in Environmental Factor.

When it comes to telling stories of success, scientists in the field of environmental health face a challenge distinct from other biomedical researchers — there is no pill or clinical intervention at the end. A paper published July 16 in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives offers a new way for environmental health scientists to describe what is known as translational research.