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Global Environmental Justice: A Review of the Literature (April 2018): Popular Culture and the Environment

By Robert C. Robinson

Popular Culture and the Environment

Activists approach the issue of environ-mental justice not just with academic articles and political writing but also through poetry, art, and testimonials. In Sharing the Earth: An International Environmental Justice Reader, editors Elizabeth Ammons and Modhumita Roy collect more than eighty original works from activists from the South, including personal essays, testimonials, and art and poetry. A title along the same lines is The Quest for Environmental Justice: Human Rights and the Politics of Pollution, edited by Robert Bullard and Maxine Waters. This volume collects fourteen essays on topics ranging from grassroots activism around the world to the American South, and it includes the voices of those living in the most polluted environments in the world. Fictional examples of this phenomenon are entirely too numerous to list here, but if this writer were to suggest just one, it would be Margaret Atwood’s The Year of the Flood, a work of speculative fiction in which she imagines a waterless world, overrun with genetically altered animals roaming the deserts, and the last humans’ attempt to survive. Those interested in the intersection of popular culture and climate change may find Noël Sturgeon’s Environmentalism in Popular Culture: Gender, Race, Sexuality, and the Politics of the Natural useful. Sturgeon is particularly compelling in making the case that popular culture—including novels, stories, television, and movies—depicts social inequalities as natural, and that this view can be dangerous. Conversely, contemporary idyllic portrayals of nature interfere with proposed solutions to the most pressing environmental and ecological problems, particularly as they threaten society’s most vulnerable worldwide. Sturgeon’s is an early and decidedly impactful ecofeminist critique of popular treatment of the natural world.

Works Cited