Environment and Society A Critical Introduction

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Edition: 3rd
Format: Paperback
Pub. Date: 2022-04-04
Publisher(s): Wiley
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Summary

A comprehensive yet accessible introduction to the conceptual tools used to explore real-world environmental problems 

Environment and Society: A Critical Introduction, Third Edition demonstrates how theoretical approaches such as environmental ethics, political economy, and social construction work as conceptual tools to identify and clarify contemporary environmental issues. Assuming no background knowledge in the subject, this reader-friendly textbook uses clear language and engaging examples to first describe nine key conceptual tools, and then apply them to a variety of familiar objects—from bottled water and French fries to trees, wolves, and carbon dioxide. Throughout the text, highly accessible chapters provide insight into the relationship between the environment and present-day society. 

Divided into two parts, the text begins by explaining major theoretical approaches for interpreting the environment-society relationship and discussing different perspectives about environmental problems. Part II examines a series of objects, each viewed through a sample of the theoretical tools from Part I, helping readers think critically about critical environmental topics such as deforestation, climate change, the global water supply, and hazardous e-waste. This fully revised third edition stresses a wider range of competing ways of thinking about environmental issues and features additional cases studies, up-to-date conceptual understandings, and new chapters in Part I on racializd environments and feminist approaches. Environment and Society: A Critical Introduction, Third Edition: 

  • Covers theoretical lenses such as commodities, environmental ethics, and risks and hazards, and applies them to touchstone environment-society objects like wolves, tuna, trees, and carbon dioxide  
  • Uses a conversational narrative to explain key historical events, topical issues and policies, and scientific concepts 
  • Features substantial revisions and updates, including new chapters on feminism and race, and improved maps and illustrations 
  • Includes a wealth of in-book and online resources, including exercises and boxed discussions, chapter summaries, review questions, references, suggested readings, an online test bank, and internet links 
  • Provides additional instructor support such as suggested teaching models, full-color PowerPoint slides, and supplementary teaching material 

Retaining the innovative approach of its predecessors, Environment and Society: A Critical Introduction, Third Edition remains the ideal textbook for courses in environmental issues, environmental science, and nature and society theory. 

Author Biography

Paul Robbins is Professor and Dean of the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA. His research interests focus on understanding human–environment systems, the influence non-humans have on human behavior and organization, and the implications these interactions hold for ecosystem health, local communities, and social justice. He is also author of Political Ecology: A Critical Introduction, now in its third edition (Wiley Blackwell, 2019).

John G. Hintz is Professor of Environmental, Geographical, and Geological Sciences at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, USA. His research interests include the politics of public lands management, mapping protected areas, and sustainable agriculture. He has published in several journals, including Capitalism Nature Socialism and Ethics, Place & Environment.

Sarah A. Moore is Associate Professor of Geography at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA. Her research investigates the political, economic, and social dimensions of waste management at several scales. Her publications include articles in numerous journals including Progress in Human Geography, The Professional Geographer, and Society and Natural Resources.

Table of Contents

List of Figures x

List of Tables xv

List of Boxes xvi

Acknowledgments xvii

About the Companion Website xviii

1 Introduction: The View from a Human-Made Wild 1

What is This Book? 6

The Authors’ Points of View 9

Part I Approaches and Perspectives 13

2 Population and Scarcity 15

A Booming China or a Busting One? 16

The Problem of Exponential Growth 17

Population, Development, and Environment Impact 19

The Other Side of the Coin: Population and Innovation 23

Limits to Population: An Effect Rather than a Cause? 24

Thinking with Population 29

3 Markets and Commodities 33

The Bet 34

Managing Environmental Bads: The Coase Theorem 37

Market Failure 39

Market-Based Solutions to Environmental Problems 40

Beyond Market Failure: Gaps between Nature and Economy 45

Thinking with Markets 48

4 Institutions and “The Commons” 51

Controlling Carbon? 52

The Prisoner’s Dilemma 52

The Tragedy of the Commons 54

The Evidence and Logic of Collective Action 56

Crafting Sustainable Environmental Institutions 58

Are All Commoners Equal? Does Scale Matter? 62

Thinking with Institutions 64

5 Environmental Ethics 67

The Price of Cheap Meat 68

Improving Nature: From Biblical Tradition to John Locke 70

Gifford Pinchot vs. John Muir in Yosemite, California 72

Aldo Leopold and “The Land Ethic” 74

Liberation for Animals! 76

CAFOs and Climate Change: Now that You Know, What Should You Do? 78

Holism and Other Pitfalls 78

Thinking with Ethics 80

6 Risks and Technology 83

The Bt Cotton Revolution 84

Environments as Hazard 85

The Problem of Risk Perception 87

Risk as Culture 90

Beyond Risk: The Political Economy of Hazards 92

Thinking with Risk and Technology 95

7 Political Economy 99

The Contradictions of COVID-19 100

Labor, Accumulation, and Crisis 101

Production of Nature 108

Global Capitalism and the Ecology of Uneven Development 110

Social Reproduction and Nature 112

Environments and Economism 114

Thinking with Political Economy 114

8 Social Construction of Nature 118

The Blank Spot on the Map 119

So You Say It’s “Natural?” 120

Environmental Discourse 124

The Limits of Constructivism: Science, Relativism, and the Very Material World 129

Thinking with Construction 132

9 Feminism and the Environment 136

Gender and Environment 138

From Earth as Woman to Ecofeminism 140

Feminist Approaches to Economies and Nature 142

Feminist Approaches to Knowledge and the Environment 146

Thinking with Feminism and the Environment 152

10 Racialized Environments 156

Structural Environmental Racism 158

Environmental Justice 159

Settler Colonialism 163

Whiteness and Nature 169

Thinking with Racialized Environments 170

Part II Objects of Concern 175

11 Carbon Dioxide 177

Stuck in Pittsburgh Traffic 178

A Short History of CO2 178

Institutions: Climate Free-Riders and Carbon Cooperation 184

Markets: Trading More Gases, Buying Less Carbon 190

Political Economy: Who Killed the Atmosphere? 193

The Carbon Puzzle 196

12 Trees 200

Chained to a Tree in Berkeley, California 201

A Short History of Trees 201

Population and Markets: The Forest Transition Theory 209

Political Economy: Accumulation and Deforestation 212

Gender, Trees, and Power: Feminist Insights into Forests 214

Ethics, Justice, and Equity: Should Trees Have Standing? 216

The Tree Puzzle 218

13 Wolves 222

Wolves, Be Wary Where You Tread 223

A Short History of Wolves 224

Ethics: Rewilding and Wolves 229

Institutions: Stakeholder Management 232

Feminism: Of Wolves and Masculinity 235

The Wolf Puzzle 238

14 Uranium 242

Promise and Peril in Post-Nuclear Worlds 243

A Short History of Uranium 244

Risk and Hazards: Debating the Fate of High-Level Radioactive Waste 250

Race: Environmental Justice and the Navajo Nation 253

Social Construction: Discourses at Work in Australia 256

The Uranium Puzzle 260

15 Tuna 264

Big Trouble for Big Tuna 265

A Short History of Tuna 265

Markets and Commodities: Eco-Labels to the Rescue? 270

Political Economy: Re-regulating Fishery Economies 273

Ethics: Saving Animals, Conserving Species 276

The Tuna Puzzle 279

16 Lawns 283

How Much Do People Love Lawns? 284

A Short History of Lawns 284

Risk and Chemical Decision-Making 288

Social Construction: Good Lawns Mean Good People 291

Political Economy: The Chemical Tail Wags the Turfgrass Dog 292

The Lawn Puzzle 295

17 Bottled Water 298

A Tale of Two Bottles 299

A Short History of Bottled Water 300

Population: Bottling for Scarcity? 305

Risk and Technology: Health and Safety in a Bottle? 307

Political Economy: Manufacturing Demand on an Enclosed Commons 309

Racialized Environments: The Burden of Bottled Water in the United States 312

The Bottled Water Puzzle 314

18 French Fries 318

Getting Your French Fry Fix 319

A Short History of the Fry 319

Feminist Approaches: The Body Politics of French Fries 325

Political Economy and Racialized Environments: Have it Your Way? 328

Ethics: Protecting or Engineering Potato Heritage? 333

The French Fry Puzzle 337

19 E-Waste 341

Digital Divides 342

A Short History of E-Waste 343

E-Waste and Markets: From Externality to Commodity 348

The Political Economy of E-Waste 351

E-Waste and Racialized Environments 355

The E-Waste Puzzle 359

Glossary 362

Index 372

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