John Brunner’s 1972 The Sheep Look Upis a stand-alone near-future science fiction novel. It is also one of a series of novels by Brunner that dramatize extrapolations of big issues of the era in which he was writing: The Jagged Orbit (racial violence), Stand on Zanzibar (overpopulation), and The Shockwave Rider (future shock). The Sheep Look Up’s central focus is environmental degradation.
1980s America in particular and the world in general have made enormous strides in reshaping the world to facilitate unbounded profit. The air is poisoned, such water as can be had is filthy, entire seas are lifeless, and children across the nation suffer life-altering disabilities due their exposure to toxic chemicals. In a word: capitalist utopia!