The Age of Smoke: Environmental Policy in Germany and the United States, 1880–1970

Uekoetter, Frank | from Multimedia Library Collection:
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Uekoetter, Frank. The Age of Smoke: Environmental Policy in Germany and the United States, 1880–1970. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2009.

In 1880, coal was the primary energy source for everything from home heating to industry. Regions where coal was readily available, such as the Ruhr Valley in Germany and western Pennsylvania in the United States, witnessed exponential growth—yet also suffered the greatest damage from coal pollution. These conditions prompted civic activism in the form of “anti-smoke” campaigns to attack the unsightly physical manifestations of coal burning. This early period witnessed significant cooperation between industrialists, government, and citizens to combat the smoke problem. It was not until the 1960s, when attention shifted from dust and grime to hazardous invisible gases, that cooperation dissipated, and protests took an antagonistic turn. The Age of Smoke presents an original, comparative history of environmental policy and protest in the United States and Germany. The Age of Smoke provides a valuable study of policy development in two modern industrial nations, and the rise of civic activism to combat air pollution. As Uekoetter’s work reveals, the cooperative approaches developed in an earlier era offer valuable lessons and perhaps the best hope for future progress. (Text adapted from University of Pittsburgh Press website.)

Read the book in full on the University of Pittsburgh Press Digital Editions.

Further readings: 
  • Uekötter, Frank. Umweltgeschichte im 19. und 20 Jahrhundert. Munich: Oldenbourg, 2007.