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Lynton Keith Caldwell

An Environmental Visionary and the National Environmental Policy Act

Wendy Read Wertz

Publication Year: 2014

This is the story of a visionary leader, Lynton Keith Caldwell, who in the early 1960s introduced the study of the environment and environmental policy at a time when such areas of expertise did not exist. For the next three decades, Caldwell played a leading role in establishing ethics-based environmental policy and administration as major areas of inquiry in the United States and around the world. Through his tireless global travels, writing, and lectures, and his work with the US Senate, the IUCN, UN, and UNESCO, Caldwell became recognized for his contributions to environmental ethics and the development of strong environmental planning and policy. This engrossing biography is based on interviews the author conducted with Caldwell and on unrestricted access to his memorabilia, photos, and records.

Published by: Indiana University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-viii


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pp. ix-x

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Author’s Note

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pp. xi-xiv

During the course of several years, beginning in 2001 after being introduced to Caldwell by a mutual friend, I enjoyed countless conversations with him. He was then eighty-seven and working on his last, still unpublished book, “The Latter Days.” When he learned I...

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pp. xv-2

Since 2002, the year that Caldwell indicated to me that he had faith in my abilities to be his biographer, it has taken me some nine years to research and bring this book to publication. I was actually writing the first draft of my manuscript when Caldwell died in...

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Prologue: Choosing an Environmental Path

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pp. 3-16

In the introduction to her biography of Aldo Leopold, A Fierce Green Fire, Marybeth Lorbiecki wrote, “How many Americans have ever heard of Leopold? Relatively few. Perhaps he was involved in too many aspects of the conservation movement to be pigeonholed into...

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1. A Century of History and Heritage: The Roots of an Environmental Focus

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pp. 17-38

On November 21, 1913, Lynton Keith Caldwell, the first child of Lee Lynton Caldwell, the local school superintendent, and his wife, Alberta, was born in the local hospital of the farming town of Montezuma, Iowa. If his father had not departed from two hundred years of family tradition...

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2. Marriage, War, Children, and Career

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pp. 39-70

As he registered for his first term of classes at Harvard in his chosen fields of history and government, Caldwell also took advantage of an opportunity to sign up for an elective course taught by the respected bird specialist Ludlow Griscom. In 1927 Griscom had left...

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3. Choosing a Different Path

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pp. 71-102

As 1960 began, Caldwell had no premonition that events of the coming decade would lead him to make irrevocable changes to the course of his life. In fact, some of the factors that would help diffuse his nascent ideas for environmental oversight and management had already...

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4. A New Focus on Education: Ecology and the Environment Become Political Issues, 1965–1968

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pp. 103-128

“For the rest of the 1960s,” Robert V. Bartlett and James M. Gladden wrote in the 1990s in their foreword to a collection of Caldwell’s important early essays, the published output of the field of environmental policy and politics research consisted largely of the...

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5. “Those Were Exciting Years”: Toward a National Policy for the Environment

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pp. 129-156

In November 1967 Caldwell flew to Washington to meet with William Van Ness. By the end of their discussions Van Ness had offered him a consultancy and Caldwell had accepted, provided that suitable funding could be found to compensate him for his work and...

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6. The National Environmental Policy Act and the Start of the “Environmental Decade”

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pp. 157-198

On April 16, 1969, the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs convened, as arranged, in Room 3110 of the New Senate Office Building. The principal reason for the all-day meeting, the most far-ranging held thus far to discuss the details of enacting national environmental...

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7. Early Challenges to NEPA: Trying for National Land-Use Policy

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pp. 199-230

At the end of seven years of at first lonely but always persistent efforts to spread his ideas beyond his own academic field and make the environment a focus of innovative policy and interdisciplinary study, Caldwell at last felt vindicated. With the passage of the National...

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8. NEPA, a New School, and New Directions

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pp. 231-258

By the end of 1970, Nixon had signed into law two further acts related to environment and public health issues: the Resource Recovery Act and the Water Quality Improvement Act. During the decade, as public interest in the environment remained high, Congress...

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9. Increasing International Focus: The “Visiting Professor”

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pp. 259-286

In the early 1960s, at the same time that Caldwell launched his then-novel concepts for the implementation of environmental policy and administration at home, he also began searching for ways to introduce these ideas into the wider international arena. From...

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10. Conservation versus Consumption: A Division in Social Philosophy

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pp. 287-310

Caldwell had by now become convinced of the vital role major scientific breakthroughs in energy conservation and clean fuels development would play in achieving an environmentally sustainable future. Thus, in September 1975, at a UNESCO meeting in Paris, he...

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11. The Years of Going Backward

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pp. 311-330

Even before Reagan took office in January 1981 following his landslide victory over Carter, it had become obvious that he did not share his predecessor’s environmental concerns. Instead, during his campaign he had reiterated that, if elected, he would act to restore the...

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12. Retirement: A New Focus on Global Environmental Issues

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pp. 331-354

On November 21, 1983, his seventieth birthday, Caldwell felt little desire to celebrate, not least because Indiana University had advised him that he would have to accept mandatory retirement in June. “For my part,” he wrote in January 1984 to IU president John Ryan, “I...

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13. Strengthening NEPA through a Constitutional Amendment

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pp. 355-276

On September 21, 1989, Caldwell gave a keynote speech in Washington, D.C., at a special two-day conference cosponsored by the CEQ and EPA to mark the twentieth anniversary of NEPA.1 A month earlier, CEQ general counsel Dinah Bear had written: “Thank you so very,...

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14. The Grand Old Man of Environmental Policy

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pp. 377-398

On April 9, 1993, Inside EPA announced that on April 2 the Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee had passed S. 171, To Establish a Department of Environmental Protection, and that it would now go to the full floor.1 Despite the arguments Caldwell...

15. The Final Years

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pp. 399-416

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Epilogue: Leaving a Legacy

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pp. 417-422

In the years that have passed since his death, just as Caldwell predicted would occur should world governments fail to establish cooperative plans of action to better protect the Earth’s life-support systems, the global environment has entered an accelerated rate of decline...


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pp. 423-470


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pp. 471-484

About the Author

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E-ISBN-13: 9780253010377
E-ISBN-10: 0253010373
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253010308

Page Count: 504
Illustrations: 32 b&w illus.
Publication Year: 2014