Leopold's last talk -- The love of Wendell Berry -- Impressionism and David Orr -- The cosmos and Pope Francis -- Taking property seriously -- Wilderness and culture -- Naming the tragedy -- Conclusion: thinking, talking, and culture
“This is a book about nature and culture,” Eric T. Freyfogle writes, “about our place and plight on earth, and the nagging challenges we face in living on it in ways that might endure.” Challenges, he says, we are clearly failing to meet. Harking back to a key phrase from the essays of eminent American conservationist Aldo Leopold, Our Oldest Task spins together lessons from history and philosophy, the life sciences and politics, economics and cultural studies in a personal, erudite quest to understand how we might live on—and in accord with—the land. Passionate and pragmatic, extraordinarily well read and eloquent, Freyfogle details a host of forces that have produced our self-defeating ethos of human exceptionalism. It is this outlook, he argues, not a lack of scientific knowledge or inadequate technology, that is the primary cause of our ecological predicament. Seeking to comprehend both the multifaceted complexity of contemporary environmental problems and the zeitgeist as it unfolds, Freyfogle explores such diverse topics as morality, the nature of reality (and the reality of nature), animal welfare, social justice movements, and market politics. The result is a learned and inspiring rallying cry to achieve balance, a call to use our knowledge to more accurately identify the dividing line between living in and on the world and destruction. “To use nature,” Freyfogle writes, “but not to abuse it.”
Private property is everywhere. Almost anywhere you walk in the United States, you will spot “No Trespassing” and “Private Property” signs on trees and fence posts. In America, there are more than a billion acres of grassland pasture, cropland, and forest, and miles and miles of coastlines that are mostly closed off to the public. Meanwhile, America’s public lands are threatened by extremist groups and right-wing think tanks who call for our public lands to be sold to the highest bidder and closed off to everyone else. If these groups get their way, public property may become private, precious green spaces may be developed, and the common good may be sacrificed for the benefit of the wealthy few. Ken Ilgunas, lifelong traveler, hitchhiker, and roamer, takes readers back to the nineteenth century, when Americans were allowed to journey undisturbed across the country. Today, though, America finds itself as an outlier in the Western world as a number of European countries have created sophisticated legal systems that protect landowners and give citizens generous roaming rights to their countries' green spaces. Inspired by the United States' history of roaming, and taking guidance from present-day Europe, Ilgunas calls into question our entrenched understanding of private property and provocatively proposes something unheard of: opening up American private property for public recreation. He imagines a future in which folks everywhere will have the right to walk safely, explore freely, and roam boldly—from California to the New York island, from the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream waters.
"This lecture was originally delivered on March 22, 2017, at the 22nd annual symposium of the Wallace Stegner Center for Land, Resources and the Environment."
Rangelands are vast, making up one quarter of the United States and forty percent of the Earth’s ice-free land. And while contemporary science has revealed a great deal about the environmental impacts associated with intensive livestock production—from greenhouse gas emissions to land and water degradation—far less is known about the historic role science has played in rangeland management and politics. Steeped in US soil, this first history of rangeland science looks to the origins of rangeland ecology in the late nineteenth-century American West, exploring the larger political and economic forces that—together with scientific study—produced legacies focused on immediate economic success rather than long-term ecological well being. During the late 1880s and early 1890s, a variety of forces—from the Homestead Act of 1862 to the extermination of bison, foreign investment, and lack of government regulation—promoted free-for-all access to and development of the western range, with disastrous environmental consequences. To address the crisis, government agencies turned to scientists, but as Nathan F. Sayre shows, range science grew in a politically fraught landscape. Neither the scientists nor the public agencies could escape the influences of bureaucrats and ranchers who demanded results, and the ideas that became scientific orthodoxy—from fire suppression and predator control to fencing and carrying capacities—contained flaws and blind spots that plague public debates about rangelands to this day. Looking at the global history of rangeland science through the Cold War and beyond, The Politics of Scale identifies the sources of past conflicts and mistakes and helps us to see a more promising path forward, one in which rangeland science is guided less by capital and the state and more by communities working in collaboration with scientists.
The accelerating interpenetration of nature and culture is the hallmark of the new "light-green" social order that has emerged in postwar France, argues Michael Bess in this penetrating new history. On one hand, a preoccupation with natural qualities and equilibrium has increasingly infused France's economic and cultural life. On the other, human activities have laid an ever more potent and pervasive touch on the environment, whether through the intrusion of agriculture, industry, and urban growth, or through the much subtler and more well-intentioned efforts of ecological management. The Light-Green Society limns sharply these trends over the last fifty years. The rise of environmentalism in the 1960s stemmed from a fervent desire to "save" wild nature-nature conceived as a qualitatively distinct domain, wholly separate from human designs and endeavors. And yet, Bess shows, after forty years of environmentalist agitation, much of it remarkably successful in achieving its aims, the old conception of nature as a "separate sphere" has become largely untenable. In the light-green society, where ecology and technological modernity continually flow together, a new hybrid vision of intermingled nature-culture has increasingly taken its place.
Whether referring to a place, a nonhuman animal or plant, or a state of mind, wild indicates autonomy and agency, a will to be, a unique expression of life. Yet two contrasting ideas about wild nature permeate contemporary discussions: either that nature is most wild in the absence of a defiling human presence, or that nature is completely humanized and nothing is truly wild. This book charts a different path. Exploring how people can become attuned to the wild community of life and also contribute to the well-being of the wild places in which we live, work, and play, Wildness brings together esteemed authors from a variety of landscapes, cultures, and backgrounds to share their stories about the interdependence of everyday human lifeways and wildness. As they show, far from being an all or nothing proposition, wildness exists in variations and degrees that range from cultivated soils to multigenerational forests to sunflowers pushing through cracks in a city alley. Spanning diverse geographies, these essays celebrate the continuum of wildness, revealing the many ways in which human communities can nurture, adapt to, and thrive alongside their wild nonhuman kin. From the contoured lands of Wisconsin’s Driftless region to remote Alaska, from the amazing adaptations of animals and plants living in the concrete jungle to indigenous lands and harvest ceremonies, from backyards to reclaimed urban industrial sites, from microcosms to bioregions and atmospheres, manifestations of wildness are everywhere. With this book, we gain insight into what wildness is and could be, as well as how it might be recovered in our lives—and with it, how we might unearth a more profound, wilder understanding of what it means to be human. Wildness: Relations of People and Place is published in association with the Center for Humans and Nature, an organization that brings together some of the brightest minds to explore and promote human responsibilities to each other and the whole community of life. Visit the Center for Humans and Nature's Wildness website for upcoming events and a series of related short films.
Sampling and Analysis of Environmental Chemical Pollutants, A Complete Guide, Second Edition promotes the knowledge of data collection fundamentals and offers technically solid procedures and basic techniques that can be applied to daily workflow solutions. The book’s organization emphasizes the practical issues facing the project scientist. In focusing the book on data collection techniques that are oriented toward the project objectives, the author clearly distinguishes the important issues from the less relevant ones. Stripping away the layers of inapplicable or irrelevant recommendations, the book centers on the underlying principles of environmental sampling and analytical chemistry and summarizes the universally accepted industry practices and standards. This Guide is a resource that will help students and practicing professionals alike better understand the issues of environmental data collection, capitalize on years of existing sampling and analysis practices, and become more knowledgeable and efficient in the task at hand. The three phases of environmental chemical data collection (planning, implementation, and assessment) are explained in a logical and concise manner. A discussion on the physical and chemical properties of environmental chemical pollutants promotes the understanding of their fate and transport. A chapter on common analytical chemistry techniques, methods of compound quantitation, and laboratory quality control and quality assurance may be used as a standalone introduction to instrumental analytical chemistry. Eleven case studies demonstrate the application of the Data Quality Objectives process to the development of sampling designs and illustrate specific data interpretation problems. Numerous call-out boxes in each chapter offer practical tips on widely used industry practices, which originate from years of experience in the field. Appendices contain the most frequently used action levels and reference material, calculation aides, and useful field forms and checklists. Authored by an analytical chemist and environmental pollutant expert with more than 30 years of experience in research and industry.
Presents a groundbreaking investigation into the origins of morality at the core of religion and politics, offering scholarly insight into the motivations behind cultural clashes that are polarizing America.
Most people would agree that it makes sense to tax a company that pollutes in a way that directly reflects the amount of environmental and social damage it has done. Yet in practice, such taxes are fraught with difficulty and have far-reaching implications. A company facing a new tax may lay off workers, for example, exacerbating an unemployment problem. This volume focuses on such external issues and examines in detail the trade-offs involved in designing policies to deal with environmental problems. Reflecting the broad nature of the subject, the contributors include leading economists in the areas of public finance, industrial organization, and trade theory, as well as environmental economists. Integrating both theoretical and empirical methods, they examine environmental policy design as it relates to location decisions, compliance costs, administrative costs, effects on research and development, and international factor movements. Shedding light on an extraordinarily complex and important topic, this collection will be of interest to all those involved in designing effective environmental policy.
Eco-pragmatism takes on the most critical controversies in environmental law today: how to weigh economic costs against environmental quality and human life, how to assess the long time horizons of environmental problems, and how to make appropriate decisions in the face of scientific uncertainty about the scope (or even the existence) of environmental problems. Farber discusses whether (and how) we should "discount" the values of future environmental benefits, how we should use economic measurements of environmental values, and how we can streamline the regulatory process to respond to rapidly changing scientific knowledge. The result is a pragmatic decision-making framework that is flexible enough to accommodate the unique challenges each case presents.
"Patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels" -SAMUEL JOHNSON, 1775 "a tightly reasoned, excellently written book that should be lethally effective in helping readers who aren't experts understand the contours of the crisis." -TOLEDO BLADE Updated and revised following the 2004 elections, The Last Refuge describes the current state of American politics against the backdrop of mounting ecological and social problems, the corrosive influence of money, the corruption of language, and the misuse of terrorism as a political issue. Setting out an agenda that transcends conventional ideological labels, David Orr contends that partisan wrangling is only a symptom of a deeper dysfunction: The whole political machinery that connects Americans' fundamentally honorable ideals with public policy is broken. The book offers a withering critique of the failings of the Bush administration, supplemented by new essays that look at the national-level dominance of the Republican Party and examine the fallacy that the evangelical right represents a Christian majority. After analyzing the challenges of reforming the current system, Orr offers an empowering vision of a second American Revolution that peaceably achieves sustainability and charts a hopeful course for forward-looking citizens.
In The Interpretation of Cultures, the most original anthropologist of his generation moved far beyond the traditional confines of his discipline to develop an important new concept of culture. This groundbreaking book, winner of the 1974 Sorokin Award of the American Sociological Association, helped define for an entire generation of anthropologists what their field is ultimately about.
With an exclusive introduction by the acclaimed Harvard historian Naomi Oreskes, this is the complete text of the landmark encyclical letter by Pope Francis that has 'rocked the international community' (Time). The only secular edition of the Pope's remarks, the Encyclical on Climate Change and Inequality is an essential document of our times - as significant a contribution to the movement for environmental justice and human rights as Rachel Carson's Silent Spring was 55 years ago.
The Shadows of Consumption gives a hard-hitting diagnosis: many of the earth's ecosystems and billions of its people are at risk from the consequences of rising consumption. Products ranging from cars to hamburgers offer conveniences and pleasures; but, as Peter Dauvergne makes clear, global political and economic processes displace the real costs of consumer goods into distant ecosystems, communities, and timelines, tipping into crisis people and places without the power to resist. In The Shadows of Consumption, Peter Dauvergne maps the costs of consumption that remain hidden in the shadows cast by globalized corporations, trade, and finance. Dauvergne traces the environmental consequences of five commodities: automobiles, gasoline, refrigerators, beef, and harp seals. In these fascinating histories we learn, for example, that American officials ignored warnings about the dangers of lead in gasoline in the 1920s; why China is now a leading producer of CFC-free refrigerators; and how activists were able to stop Canada's commercial seal hunt in the 1980s (but are unable to do so now). Dauvergne's innovative analysis allows us to see why so many efforts to manage the global environment are failing even as environmentalism is slowly strengthening. He proposes a guiding principle of "balanced consumption" for both consumers and corporations. We know that we can make things better by driving a high-mileage car, eating locally grown food, and buying energy-efficient appliances; but these improvements are incremental, local, and insufficient. More crucial than our individual efforts to reuse and recycle will be reforms in the global political economy to reduce the inequalities of consumption and correct the imbalance between growing economies and environmental sustainability.
Walden Pond. The Grand Canyon.Yosemite National Park. Throughout the twentieth century, photographers and filmmakers created unforgettable images of these and other American natural treasures. Many of these images, including the work of Ansel Adams, continue to occupy a prominent place in the American imagination. Making these representations, though, was more than a purely aesthetic project. In fact, portraying majestic scenes and threatened places galvanized concern for the environment and its protection. Natural Visions documents through images the history of environmental reform from the Progressive era to the first Earth Day celebration in 1970, showing the crucial role the camera played in the development of the conservation movement. In Natural Visions, Finis Dunaway tells the story of how visual imagery—such as wilderness photographs, New Deal documentary films, and Sierra Club coffee-table books—shaped modern perceptions of the natural world. By examining the relationship between the camera and environmental politics through detailed studies of key artists and activists, Dunaway captures the emotional and spiritual meaning that became associated with the American landscape. Throughout the book, he reveals how photographers and filmmakers adapted longstanding traditions in American culture—the Puritan jeremiad, the romantic sublime, and the frontier myth—to literally picture nature as a place of grace for the individual and the nation. Beautifully illustrated with photographs by Ansel Adams, Eliot Porter, and a host of other artists, Natural Visions will appeal to a wide range of readers interested in American cultural history, the visual arts, and environmentalism.
This report analyses all aspects of cultural diversity, which has emerged as a key concern of the international community in recent decades, and maps out new approaches to monitoring and shaping the changes that are taking place. It highlights, in particular, the interrelated challenges of cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue and the way in which strong homogenizing forces are matched by persistent diversifying trends. The report proposes a series of ten policy-oriented recommendations, to the attention of States, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, international and regional bodies, national institutions and the private sector on how to invest in cultural diversity. Emphasizing the importance of cultural diversity in different areas (languages, education, communication and new media development, and creativity and the marketplace) based on data and examples collected from around the world, the report is also intended for the general public. It proposes a coherent vision of cultural diversity and clarifies how, far from being a threat, it can become beneficial to the action of the international community.
Essays explore the social impact of America s global network of military bases by examining interactions between U.S. soldiers and members of host communities in South Korea, Japan/Okinawa, and West Germany.

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