Synopses & Reviews
There is a good reason why global climate change, atmospheric pollution, deforestation, and the rapid decline of biodiversity are such hotbed issues. Interactions between human society and the environment have never been more complex – or more critical to our survival – than now. Environment and Society: A Critical Introduction
presents readers with a concise overview of the diverse conceptual tools and traditions available for thinking about, explaining, and addressing the crucial environmental challenges we face today. The authors vividly demonstrate how theory can illuminate pressing environmental problems in the world around us by applying the most recent theoretical concepts to a variety of real-world objects – from French fries and wolves to bottled water and carbon dioxide. At the same time, they stress the ways that different, and often conflicting, conclusions about environmental issues can be reached, depending on varying perspectives, starting positions, and assumptions.
Accessible and insightful, this book provides an essential foundation for shaping our understanding of one of the most important issues of our times.
"Combining theory and case material, this title provides an accessible insight into one of the most important issues of our time." (The Environmentalist, May 2010)
"This innovatively structured work, from some of the field's most creative thinkers, sheds fresh light on some familiar but intractable subjects. This is one of those rare books that holds out the promise that you will think differently after you put it down than you did when you picked it up."
—Michael R. Dove, Yale University
"At last, a text that renders the recent and voluminous research into society-nature relations both accessible and engaging. It succeeds superbly in blending theory and case material, resulting in a rich and challenging text."
—Noel Castree, University of Manchester
"At last a rigorous environmental text suitable for undergraduates based on current theory, so badly needed to move on from the tired platitudes that have dominated discussion over environment and society for the last four decades. I especially appreciated its inclusion of objects ranging from carbon dioxide to french fries, clearly demonstrating how environment and society are inseparably entangled."
—Jim Proctor, Lewis & Clark College
Environment and Society: A Critical Introduction
is an overview of the diverse conceptual tools and traditions for thinking about, explaining and addressing the environmental challenges we face in the contemporary world.
- Provides an introduction to the environmental challenges we face in the contemporary world through foundational theoretical ideas illustrated with concrete, everyday examples
- Utilizes compelling, conversational language to expound on theory, history, and scientific topics, making the text accessible to a diverse readership
- Draws upon contemporary theoretical understandings in nature/society theory while demonstrating through practice and deployment
- Includes discussion of key historical events, topical issues, and policies, as well as scientific concepts
About the Author
is a Professor in the School of Geography and Development at the University of Arizona, Tucson. His current research centers on the relationships between individuals, environmental actors, and the institutions that connect them. Robbins is also the author of Political Ecology: A Critical Introduction
(2004) and Lawn People: How Grasses Weeds and Chemicals Make us Who We Are
John Hintz is Assistant Professor of Geography and Geosciences at the Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania. His current research focuses on land use conflicts, environmental policy, and the US environmental movement. He has most recently published in the journals Capitalism Nature Socialism and Ethics, Place and Environment.
Sarah A. Moore is Assistant Professor in the School of Geography and Development at the University of Arizona, Tucson. Her research focuses on urban development politics, urban environmental issues, and environmental justice in the United States and Latin America. Her publications include articles in the Professional Geographer and Society and Natural Resources.
Table of Contents
List of Figures.
List of Tables.
List of Text Boxes.
1 Introduction: The View from Clifton Bridge.
What Is This Book?
Part I Approaches and Perspectives.
2 Population and Scarcity.
A Crowded Desert City.
The Problem of "Geometric" Growth.
Population, Development, and Environment Impact.
The Other Side of the Coin: Population and Innovation.
Limits to Population: An Effect Rather than a Cause?
Thinking with Population.
3 Markets and Commodities.
Managing Environmental Bads: The Coase Theorem.
Market-Based Solutions to Environmental Problems.
Beyond Market Failure: Gaps between Nature and Economy.
Thinking with Markets.
4 Institutions and "The Commons".
The Prisoner's Dilemma.
The Tragedy of the Commons.
The Evidence and Logic of Collective Action.
Crafting Sustainable Environmental Institutions.
Are All Commoners Equal? Does Scale Matter?
Thinking with Institutions.
5 Environmental Ethics.
The Price of Cheap Meat.
Improving Nature: From Biblical Tradition to John Locke.
Gifford Pinchot vs. John Muir in Yosemite, California.
Aldo Leopold and "The Land Ethic".
Liberation for Animals!
Holism, Scientism, and Pragmatism? Oh My!
Thinking with Ethics.
6 Risks and Hazards.
The Great Flood of 1993.
Environments as Hazard.
The Problem of Risk Perception.
Risk as Culture.
Beyond Risk: The Political Economy of Hazards.
Thinking with Hazards and Risk.
7 Political Economy.
The Strange Logic of "Under-pollution".
Labor, Accumulation, and Crisis.
Production of Nature.
Global Capitalism and the Ecology of Uneven Development.
Social Reproduction and Nature.
Environments and Economism.
Thinking with Political Economy.
8 Social Construction of Nature.
Welcome to the Jungle.
So You Say It’s "Natural"?
The Limits of Constructivism: Science, Relativism, and the Very Material World.
Thinking with Construction.
Part II Objects of Concern.
9 Carbon Dioxide.
Stuck in Pittsburgh Traffic.
A Short History of CO2.
Institutions: Climate Free-Riders and Carbon Cooperation.
Markets: Trading More Gases, Buying Less Carbon.
Political Economy: Who Killed the Atmosphere?
The Carbon Puzzle.
Chained to a Tree in Berkeley California.
A Short History of Trees.
Population and Markets: The Forest Transition Theory.
Political Economy: Accumulation and Deforestation.
Ethics, Justice, and Equity: Should Trees Have Standing?
The Tree Puzzle.
January 12, 1995, Yellowstone National Park.
A Short History of Wolves.
Ethics: Rewilding the Northeast.
Institutions: Stakeholder Management.
Social Construction: Of Wolves and Men Masculinity.
The Wolf Puzzle.
A Short History of Tuna.
Markets and Commodities: Eco-Labels to the Rescue?.
Political Economy: Re-regulating Fishery Economies.
Ethics and Ecocentrism: The Social Construction of Charismatic Species.
The Tuna Puzzle.
13 Bottled Water.
A Tale of Two Bottles.
A Short History of Bottled Water.
Population: Bottling for Scarcity?
Risk: Health and Safety in a Bottle?
Political Economy: Manufacturing Demand on an Enclosed Commons.
The Bottled Water Puzzle.
14 French Fries.
A Short History of the Fry.
Risk Analysis: Eating What We Choose and Choosing What We Eat.
Political Economy: Eat Fries or Else!
Ethics: Protecting or Engineering Potato Heritage?
The French Fry Puzzle.