Smoke and Mirrors: The Politics and Culture of Air Pollution

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Overview

Who gets to breathe clean air? Who benefits from the cheaper products produced with dirty air? The answers, as the contributors to Smoke and Mirrors tell us, are sometimes as gray as the air itself.

From the coal factory chimneys in Manchester in the late nineteenth century to the smog hanging over Los Angeles in the late twentieth century, air pollution has long been one of the greatest threats to our environment. In this important collection of original essays, the leading environmental scientists and social scientists examine the politics of air pollution policies and help us to understand the ways these policies have led to, idiosyncratic, effective, ineffective, and even disastrous choices about what we choose to put into and take out of the air. Offering historical, contemporary and cross-national perspectives, this volume provides a refreshing new approach to understanding how air pollution policies have evolved over time.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"[A] fascinating, provocative, pathbreaking book. . . . Air pollution can no longer be understood simply as an issue of economics, science, and engineering, but one that implicates fundamental values and controversies surrounding justice, fairness, and the construction of knowledge."

-Gary Bryner,author of From Promises to Performance: Achieving Global Environmental Goals

"Essential reading for social environmental historians, environmental scientists, cultural and social historians, and public policy specialists."

-Bill Luckin,author of Pollution and Control

"The well-told stories in its diverse chapters provide lessons for today as we continue to struggle to curb urban air pollution and its health effects."

-Jonathan Samet,coeditor of Indoor Air Pollution: A Health Perspective

"This collection of richly detailed and pioneering essays will be welcomed as a major contribution . . . providing a broad-ranging and multifaceted overview of the history of society's reaction to and struggle to protect itself from air-borne industrial toxins."

-Christine Rosen,author of The Limits of Power: Great Fires and the Process of City Growth in America

"Arguing the importance of the social dimensions of air pollution issues, this collection of 15 original essays addresses a wide range of topics ranging from the perception of the pollution in Victorian England to automotive pollution control in prewar Germany to pesticide drift in modern California. Several essays are provocative. well written, and richly detailed; others are vignettes."

-Choice,

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814719619
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 7/1/2004
  • Series: - Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 360
  • Sales rank: 1,110,991
  • Product dimensions: 8.90 (w) x 5.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

E. Melanie DuPuis is associate professor of sociology at the University of California, Santa Cruz and author of Nature's Perfect Food: How Milk Became America's Drink (NYU Press, 2001).

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
1 Perceptions and effects of late Victorian air pollution 15
2 "The invisible evil" : noxious vapor and public health in Manchester during the age of industry 27
3 Public perceptions of smoke pollution in Victorian Manchester 51
4 Uplands downwind : acidity and ecological change in the southeast Lancashire moorlands 77
5 The "smoky city" between wars 100
6 The merits of the precautionary principle : controlling automobile exhausts in Germany and the United States before 1945 119
7 Interpreting the London fog disaster of 1952 154
8 Localizing smog : transgressions in the therapeutic landscape 170
9 A fine balance : automobile pollution control strategies in California 203
10 Who owns the air? : Clean Air Act implementation as a negotiation of common property rights 223
11 Air pollution in Spain : a "peripheral" nation transforms 241
12 Clearing the air and breathing freely : the health politics of air pollution and asthma 261
13 Invisible people, invisible places : connecting air pollution and pesticide drift in California 288
14 Notes from the field : air pollution engineering as cultural experience 305
15 The social and political construction of air pollution : air pollution policies for Mexico City, 1979-1996 324
Afterword 337
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