Something happened to strip environmental crisis of what seemed in the 1970s to be its self-evident inevitability. Something happened to allow environmentalism’s antagonists to stigmatize its erstwhile stewards as unstable alarmists and bad-faith prophets-and to call their warnings at best hysterical, at worst crafted lies. Indeed, something happened to allow some even to question (without appearing ridiculous) the apparently commonsensical assumption that environmentalists were the environment’s best stewards. The most important explanation for these events isn’t hard to find. In reaction to the decade of crisis, a strong and enormously successful antienvironmental disinformation industry sprang up. It was so successful that it helped midwife a new phase in the history of U.S. environmental politics, one in which an abundance of environmental concern was nearly blocked by an equal abundance of antienvironmental contestation. Prophets rushing into the public space bearing environmental warnings like lanterns held high found themselves suddenly in a very crowded square,

one now jammed with antienvironmental spokespeople also waving lanterns. If formerly too little information had hampered environmental activism, now too much information achieved the same end. According to Samuel Hays, who carefully chronicled American environmental politics between 1955 and 1985, the public drive for environmental change had been “neutralized” by the 1980s, blocked by an increasingly organized and elaborate corporate and conservative opposition.1