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“The Documerica file will serve the public interest only to the extent that the images are published.”
December 26, 2011 11:07 AM   Subscribe

The EPA's 1971-1978 Documerica project (at Flickr, at the National Archives) set out to 'photographically document subjects of environmental concern.' Last month, The Atlantic put up a gallery of 46 of the photos (here are three more curated galleries, from Wired, Colorcubic and the Mother Nature Network).
posted by box (9 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
(The National Archives Flickr stream has been posted previously.)
posted by box at 11:08 AM on December 26, 2011


An oil slick surrounds Liberty Island in New York Harbor.

This used to be common and now it is rare and the success of the EPA isn't as obvious as it should be.
posted by three blind mice at 11:50 AM on December 26, 2011


The first image on The Atlantic's gallery is still a scene played out across America today, only more often with McMansions than old shacks. It never ceases to amaze me how we continue to allow people to build in proximity to fossil fuel power planets despite the overwhelming evidence of the pollutants released by them being harmful to children's development.
posted by wierdo at 12:12 PM on December 26, 2011


I'm sure the people in the pictures are just happy that they were free of excessive government regulation before the EPA showed up.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 12:48 PM on December 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is good. Change didn't happen naturally, it was fought for. These pictures remind us why we fight.
posted by stbalbach at 1:20 PM on December 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not sure what this photo has to do with envoromental concern. Just a couple of folks trying to get through the day and smoke from their bag of synapse blockers.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 2:44 PM on December 26, 2011


the success of the EPA isn't as obvious as it should be.

EPA Delivers Holiday Gift: New Mercury Rules
posted by homunculus at 8:15 PM on December 26, 2011


I came into the world just four years after these photographs were compiled... it really is sobering how far we've come and a powerful reminder how far some wish to pull us all back.

Indeed, we must continue to push for environmental protection... so that we may survive in any meaningful way.
posted by PROD_TPSL at 9:55 PM on December 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was 2 years old, living on the outskirts of Cleveland, when this photo was taken there (#3 from the Atlantic link).

I do not suppose that I remember my second summer too clearly, but I do have early summer memories from not many years later, memories of brown-clouded summer days, when the sun shone but somehow seemed weak and far away, and when an acrid chemical smell permeated the whole outdoors.

By the time I was a teenager, that had all gone away. Going outside to get some fresh air had become a real thing again. That may have been mostly because Cleveland was undergoing a terrible economic and industrial contraction from which it never recovered. Most of the smokestacks simply went cold, rather than getting cleaned up. But fresh air is fresh air. The change was not subtle.

I would imagine that the Baby Boomers - people of my parents' age - should remember the pollution and its retreat more clearly. So it always puzzles me to see people of that age aligning themselves with the forces of anti-business-regulation politics. How can they believe modern businesses will be any more civic-minded than they were for most of the 20th century?

If personal knowledge from direct experience can't defuse the siren-song of the modern "conservative" noise machine, what can?
posted by Western Infidels at 12:02 PM on December 27, 2011


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