Environmentalism for a New Millennium: The Challenge of Coevolution

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Oxford University Press, 1999 M04 29 - 336 pages
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The vast majority of people in the industrialized world consider themselves environmentalists. Yet environmental problems continue to worsen. While the environmental movement is winning the battle for the hearts and minds of citizens in the United States and across the globe, it may be losing the war to preserve the health of the planet and its biological diversity. The reasons become clear in this book. Leslie Paul Thiele provides a much needed analysis of the driving forces within the environmental movement and the key challenges that it faces. He begins with a concise history of the movement in the United States, where he identifies four successive waves of environmental thought and action. The first wave, conservation, emerged in the mid 1800s and focused on the responsible use of natural resources and the preservation of isolated tracts of wilderness. By the 1960s, the general public had become aware of the widespread impact of environmental problems on human health and welfare. A concern for the containment of industrial society's environmental degradation emerged. This second wave was followed by a period of co optation beginning in the 1980s, as a now popular social movement made a significant impact on public policy and witnessed the dilution of its goals. Thiele largely focuses on the fourth and current wave of coevolution. Coevolutionary thought and action is grounded in the interdependence of humans and nature in a global context. With the goal of sustainable development in mind, contemporary environmentalists argue that human livelihoods must be integrated into complex and evolving ecological systems. This affirmation of coevolutionary interdependence has brought coherence to an inherently diverse social movement. Through extensive interviews and a critical study of environmental publications and scholarly research, the author provides an inside look at the environmental movement. His analysis illuminates the social, economic, political and cultural forces that shape the environmental movement today and set its trajectory for the 21st century. Anyone interested the future of environmentalism will find this book an invaluable guide.

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1 From Conservation to Coevolution
Interdependence and Sustainable Development
Generational Interdependence across Time
Social Interdependence across Space
Ecological Interdependence across Species
6 Environmentalism for a New Millennium
Notes on the Methodology and Interviews
Foundings of Environmental Organizations 18601990
Selected Bibliography

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Page 183 - We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.
Page 83 - In order to protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be widely applied by States according to their capabilities. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.
Page 142 - I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves ; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education.
Page 7 - Examine each question in terms of what is ethically and esthetically right, as well as what is economically expedient. A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the 414 biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.
Page 127 - Therein is the tragedy. Each man is locked into a system that compels him to increase his herd without limit - in a world that is limited. Ruin is the destination toward which all men rush, each pursuing his own best interest in a society that believes in the freedom of the commons. Freedom in a commons brings ruin to all.
Page 62 - It is a partnership in all science ; a partnership in all art ; a partnership in every virtue, and in all perfection. As the ends of such a partnership cannot be obtained in many generations, it becomes a partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born.
Page 58 - By ecology we mean the body of knowledge concerning the economy of nature — the investigation of the total relations of the animal both to its inorganic and to its organic environment...
Page 50 - Humanity has the ability to make development sustainable - to ensure that it meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The concept of sustainable development does imply limits - not absolute limits but limitations imposed by the present state of technology and social organization on environmental resources and by the ability of the biosphere to absorb the effects of human activities.
Page xiv - We have frequently printed the word Democracy. Yet I cannot too often repeat that it is a word the real gist of which still sleeps, quite unawaken'd, notwithstanding the resonance and the many angry tempests out of which its syllables have come, from pen or tongue. It is a great word, whose history, I suppose, remains unwritten, because that history has yet to be enacted.
Page 67 - The one process ongoing in the 1980s that will take millions of years to correct is the loss of genetic and species diversity by the destruction of natural habitats. This is the folly our descendants are least likely to forgive us.

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