This book tells the story of how modern environmentalism emerged in postwar Sweden. It shows that the ‘environmental turn’ in Sweden occurred as early as the autumn of 1967 and that natural scientists led the way. The most influential was the chemist Hans Palmstierna, who was both an active Social Democrat and a regular contributor to the nation’s leading morning paper. Thus, he had a unique platform from which to exert influence. Drawing on his rich and previously untapped personal archive, the book explores how popular environmental engagement developed in Sweden. The book also highlights the journalist Barbro Soller, who in the mid-1960s became Sweden’s – and indeed one of the world’s – first environmental journalists. Moreover, it demonstrates how the pioneering historian Birgitta Odén, in collaboration with the Swedish National Defence Research Institute, sought to launch an interdisciplinary research programme based in the humanities and the social sciences as early as 1967–1968. An important conclusion of the book is that environmentalism emerged in Swedish society before there was an actual environmental movement. However, from 1969 onwards new social movements began to alter the dynamics. Hence, by the time the United Nations arranged the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment in June 1972, environmental knowledge had become a source of conflict between rival interests. The environmental turn in postwar Sweden is the first full-length study to emerge from the Lund Centre for the History of Knowledge (LUCK), and demonstrates how its specific take on the history of knowledge enhances historical scholarship.
by Dagens Nyheter in
1964, she developed into Sweden’s first environmental journalist in its pages. Her big
breakthrough came with the reportage series ‘Nya Lort-Sverige’ [New
filth-Sweden] in the spring of 1968. In the series, she travelled around Sweden to document
environmental destruction and littering. The following year, the series was brought out as a
reportage book by the publisher who was behind Palmstierna’s Plundring, svält, förgiftning .
At that time, Barbro Soller’s investigative environmentaljournalism
birdlife, usually published in the Sunday supplements and illustrated by colour
photographs. These texts indicate her deep interest in nature, but they were hardly a form of
environmentaljournalism. Their focus lay on the animals’ lives and behaviour. There
was no discussion of any environmental crises or toxins. 11
Over time, though, Soller’s position at Dagens Nyheter became
more and more established. In the spring of 1966, she had the opportunity to make her first
major reportage trip abroad. Together with the photographer
Louisa Atkinson’s recasting of the Australian landscape
conventions surrounding the forests which were being deliberately killed. Here, the charred eucalypts appear like sentinels, and there is a dignity to them that is entirely absent from representations of the abject sun-bleached, ring-barked trees to which she implicitly contrasts them. Atkinson was a sufficiently skilled botanist to understand the link between fire and renewal that underpins Australia’s ecology, and when equating the trees with Indigenous Australians, she gestures to the deep connection between the land and its traditional custodians.
Tidning ( BoT ), 18 December 1967.
Gösta Bringmark, ‘Människan som parasit eller
Kunskapens träd på gott och ont’, Arbetet ( Arbt ), 24
Djerf Pierre, Gröna nyheter ;
Larsson Heidenblad, ‘The Emergence of EnvironmentalJournalism’.
Hans Palmstierna, ‘Insikt, kunskap, handling’,
DN , 29 December 1967.
Peter Stevrin, Den samhällsstyrda