The environment

Environmental concern is as old as cities. Stench from waste, nuisance from ovens, and the spread of infectious diseases were cause for local and in the case of diseases even international concerns. The atomic bombs dropped on Japan in 1945 introduced a fundamental change: here, a force was unleashed that might prove impossible to control in the long run. During the Cold War the arms race raised awareness that the entire world was in danger. And aside from the military applications of nuclear energy, even peaceful use toward generating electricity or for healthcare entailed the problem of storing nuclear waste. In 1972 the Club or Rome moreover argued that fossil fuels and metals would be exhausted, if they continued to be extracted at current levels – not to mention increases in use, due to explosive growth of the world population.

The most prominent movement embracing and clustering these warnings was Greenpeace, which arose from the peace movement in the United States and Canada in the early 1970s and became known all over the world, thanks to high-profile, well-publicized campaigns (231). Greenpeace International has also selected the IISH as the repository for its archive. The movement was a major source of inspiration to the many organizations concerned about all aspects of the environment (232). Both their sphere of action and their concerns have expanded rapidly since the fall of the Iron Curtain (233). New trends elicited new responses: production of genetically modified food was associated with severe criticism of science to promote capitalism with no regard for quality of life (234). This raises ethical questions extending beyond human beings (235-236) that could still be formulated as a game since the days of the Marxes (237-239).