Synopses & Reviews
We live in a century already characterised by fears about global warming, rising pollution and the unsustainable exploitation of natural resources. At the same time, there appears to be a greater interest in nature and conservation than ever before. In Environmentalism
David Peterson del Mar uncovers one of the principal paradoxes of western societys erratic relationship with its surroundings: celebrations of and efforts to conserve nature have been most intense at times and in places where people have most exploited it.
Industrialisation drove people to look for meaning in nature even as they relentlessly consumed its products, and the western world has turned to nature in search of meanings that have proved elusive in a world dominated by economic prosperity, urbanisation and technological advances. Peterson del Mar here examines the political and economic movements of environmentalism in the context of broader cultural forces, to provide an engaging and critically astute cultural history of our attitude to the environment. Primary source documents and a collection of colour photographs serve to demonstrate and develop the argument that while nature loving may soothe our sense of alienation from our natural surroundings, it also serves to distract us from the hard work of creating a sustainable relationship with the environment.
Topics covered include:
- the birth and development of conservation and preservation
- the effects of post-war affluence
- radical movements such as deep economy, ecofeminism and ecoregionalism
- the politics of environmentalism in Europe and worldwide
With increased awareness of the fate of the environment already a dominant concern of the twenty-first century, this new Seminar Study will be an essential introduction for anyone interested in the history of environmentalism.
David Peterson del Mar has taught courses on environmental history in Canada and the US and currently teaches for Portland State University. He is the author of five books on social and environmental history, including Beaten Down: A History of Interpersonal Violence in the West (2005).
Are current global conservation efforts enough to save the environment? This is the essential introduction to the debates, the movements, the successes and failures of the environmentalism.
Why are our environmental problems still growing despite a huge increase in global conservation efforts? Peterson del Mar untangles this paradox by showing how prosperity is essential to environmentalism. Industrialization drove people to look for meaning in nature even as they consumed its products more relentlessly. Hence England led the way in both manufacturing and preserving its countryside, and the United States created a matchless set of national parks as it became the world's pre-eminent economic and military power.
Environmental movements have produced some impressive results, including cleaner air and the preservation of selected species and places. But agendas that challenged western prosperity and comfort seldom made much progress, and many radical environmentalists have been unabashed utopianists. Environmentalism considers a wide range of conservation and preservation movements and less organized forms of nature loving (from seaside vacations to ecotourism) to argue that these activities have commonly distracted us from the hard work of creating a sustainable and sensible relationship with the environment.
About the Author
David Peterson del Mar has taught environmental history in Canada and the United States and has published four books on social history, including the award winning What Trouble I Have Seen: A History of Violence against Wives (1996).
Table of Contents
Contributions to global warming
Protected areas on land
J.M.W. Turner Slave Ship painting
Pet cemetery at Asnières
Earth from outer space
Greenpeace anti-whaling action
Painting of wind turbines
PART ONE ANALYSIS AND ASSESSMENT
2 Domesticating the wild
The birth of conservation
Nostalgia and nature loving
The birth of nature tourism
Environmentalism in the colonies and early U.S.
3 Industrial nature loving
The spread of conservation and preservation
Nature and nation
Domesticating the wild
4 The friendly wild of post-war affluence
The friendly wild
Meaning and ecology
5 The counter-cultures nature
Prosperity and alienation
Wild = good
Nature loving goes mainstream
Farley Mowat and the world we have lost
Mother natures sons: Jacques Cousteau and John Denver
The rest of the West
7 Radical departures
Bioregionalism and ecofeminism
Friends of the Earth
Greenpeace and Earth First!
Central and Eastern Europe
Backlash and accomodation
9 Extreme nature loving
Wilderness and technology
Aquariums and dogs
Freeing Keiko and finding Nemo
PART TWO DOCUMENTS
2 William Wordsworth, Tintern Abbey
3 The Cruelty to Animals Act of 1835
4 George Perkins Marsh, Man and Nature
5 Anna Sewell, Black Beauty
6 William Morris, News from Nowhere
7 Robert Baden-Powell, Scouting for Boys
8 John Muir, My First Summer in the Sierras
9 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
10 Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac
11 Rachel Carson, Silent Spring
12 Farley Mowat, Never Cry Wolf
13 Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness
14 John Denver, Rocky Mountain High
15 Richard Adams, Watership Down
16 Donella H. Meadows, et al., The Limits to Growth: A Report for the Club of Romes Project on the Predicament of Mankind
17 Arne Naess, “The Shallow and the Deep, Long-Range Ecology Movements”
18 Endangered Species Act of 1973
19 Where You At? A Bioregional Quiz
20 Earth First Action in Oregon, 1985
21 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, Rio de Janeiro, 1992
22 Petra Kelly, “Creating an Ecological Economy”
23 Kyoto Protocol, 1997
24 Bjǿ[no accent]rn Lomborg, The Skeptical Environmentalist: Measuring the Real State of the World
25 Animal Wellness Magazine, “10 Steps to Animal Communication”
26 Al Gore, An Inconvenient Truth: The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming and what We Can Do About It
27 Rural Manifesto of the Countryside Alliance, 2009
28 Report of the League Against Cruel Sports, 2010
GUIDE TO FURTHER READING