Who’s the devil? Species extinction and environmentalist thought in Star Trek

In Star Trek and History, ed. N. Reagin. New York: Wiley & Sons, 2013, 242-259.
During the last decades of the 20th century, the environmentalist movement came of age. As it developed into a mass movement, it gradually changed its arguments and strategies for persuading the public that endangered species were worth saving. Although depicting a universe two hundred years (and more) into the future, the environmentalism exhibited in Star Trek reflects these changes. This article looks at species extinction as an evolving complex problem over the course of Star Trek‘s history, including the episodes “The Man Trap” and “Devil in the Dark” from the original Star Trek television show of the 1960s, the movie Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, and the episode “New Ground” from The Next Generation of the 1990s. I argue that how the Enterprise and its crew interacted with newly discovered creatures on faraway planets and how humans had affected Earth’s animals back home were vital elements of Star Trek’s evolving environmental message. Humans might be the devils destroying life, but they might also be its saviours.
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