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The Malthusian Moment: Global Population Growth and the Birth of American Environmentalism (Studies in Modern Science, Technology, and the Environment)by Thomas Robertson
Synopses & Reviews
Although humans have long depended on oceans and aquatic ecosystems for sustenance and trade, only recently has human influence on these resources dramatically increased, transforming and undermining oceanic environments throughout the world. Marine ecosystems are in a crisis that is global in scope, rapid in pace, and colossal in scale. In The Tragedy of the Commodity, sociologists Stefano B. Longo, Rebecca Clausen, and Brett Clark explore the role human influence plays in this crisis, highlighting the social and economic forces that are at the heart of this looming ecological problem.
In a critique of the classic theory andldquo;the tragedy of the commonsandrdquo; by ecologist Garrett Hardin, the authors move beyond simplistic explanationsandmdash;such as unrestrained self-interest or population growthandmdash;to argue that it is the commodification of aquatic resources that leads to the depletion of fisheries and the development of environmentally suspect means of aquaculture. To illustrate this argument, the book features two fascinating case studiesandmdash;the thousand-year history of the bluefin tuna fishery in the Mediterranean and the massive Pacific salmon fishery. Longo, Clausen, and Clark describe how new fishing technologies, transformations in ships and storage capacities, and the expansion of seafood markets combined to alter radically and permanently these crucial ecosystems. In doing so, the authors underscore how the particular organization of social production contributes to ecological degradation and an increase in the pressures placed upon the ocean. The authors highlight the historical, political, economic, and cultural forces that shape how we interact with the larger biophysical world.
A path-breaking analysis of overfishing, The Tragedy of the Commodity yields insight into issues such as deforestation, biodiversity loss, pollution, and climate change.
The Malthusian Moment locates the origins of modern American environmentalism in a twentieth-century revival of interest in Thomas Malthusandrsquo;s theory of population growth, shedding new light on some of the big stories of postwar American life: the role of the federal government, urban and suburban problems, the Civil Rights and womenandrsquo;s movements, the role of scientists in a democracy, new attitudes about sex and sexuality, and the emergence of the andldquo;New Right.andrdquo;
The Tragedy of the Commodity explores the role of human agency in the overfishing crisis, highlighting the social and economic forces behind this looming ecological problem. In a critique of the classic theory andldquo;the tragedy of the commonsandrdquo; by ecologist Garrett Hardin, the authors argue that it is the commodification of aquatic resources that leads to the depletion of fisheries and the development of environmentally suspect means of aquaculture.
Although Rachel Carsonandrsquo;s Silent Spring (1962) is often cited as the founding text of the U.S. environmental movement, in The Malthusian Moment Thomas Robertson locates the origins of modern American environmentalism in twentieth-century adaptations of Thomas Malthusandrsquo;s concerns about population growth. For many environmentalists, managing population growth became the key to unlocking the most intractable problems facing Americans after World War IIandmdash;everything from war and the spread of communism overseas to poverty, race riots, and suburban sprawl at home.
Weaving together the international and the domestic in creative new ways, The Malthusian Moment charts the explosion of Malthusian thinking in the United States from World War I to Earth Day 1970, then traces the just-as-surprising decline in concern beginning in the mid-1970s. In addition to offering an unconventional look at World War II and the Cold War through a balanced study of the environmental movementandrsquo;s most contentious theory, the book sheds new light on some of the big stories of postwar American life: the rise of consumption, the growth of the federal government, urban and suburban problems, the civil rights and womenandrsquo;s movements, the role of scientists in a democracy, new attitudes about sex and sexuality, and the emergence of the andldquo;New Right.andrdquo;
About the Author
THOMAS ROBERTSON is an assistant professor in the department of humanities and arts at Worcester Polytechnic Institute where he teaches U.S., global, and environmental history.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
Introduction: From Rubbish to Riots
1. Malthusianism, Eugenics, and Carrying Capacity in the Interwar Period
2. War and Nature: Fairfield Osborn, William Vogt, and the Birth of Global Ecology
3. Abundance in a Sea of Poverty: Quality and Quantity of Life
4. andquot;Feed 'Em or Fight 'Emandquot;: Population and Resources on the Global Frontier during the Cold War
5. The andquot;Chinificationandquot; of American Cities, Suburbs, and Wilderness
6. Paul Ehrlich, the 1960s, and the Population Bomb
7. Strange Bedfellows: Population Politics, 1968-1970
8. We're All in the Same Boat?!: The Disuniting of Spaceship Earth
9. Ronald Reagn, the New Right, and Population Growth
Conclusion: The Power and Pitfalls of Biology
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