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Gas Lines and Power Struggles

Gas Lines and Power Struggles

(p.109) Seven Gas Lines and Power Struggles
Seeing Green
Finis Dunaway
University of Chicago Press

This chapter begins by looking at pictures of gas lines that emerged during the OPEC oil embargo in 1973-74. These images presented the energy crisis as a short-term problem of supply rather than a long-term question of escalating demand. In a period marked by severe economic decline and increasing public cynicism, gas lines also contributed to the decade’s broader emotional politics that emphasized anger and alienation over a collective sense of hope and possibility. While the Advertising Council once again produced public service announcements that emphasized individual responsibility for energy conservation, environmentalists sought to broaden the concept of energy crisis by warning of the dangers of nuclear power and by promoting alternative energy sources. Ultimately, the emotional politics of the 1970s intersected, in shifting and surprising ways, with popular environmentalism. During this crucial environmental moment, the visual media conveyed the dangers of radiation to a mass public, but reaffirmed popular conceptions of environmentalism as a cause that focused on individual moral choices rather than on broader structural solutions.

Keywords:   gas lines, energy crisis, Advertising Council, individual responsibility, energy conservation, emotional politics, nuclear power

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