We need nature for our physical and psychological well-being. Our actions reflect this when we turn to beloved pets for companionship, vacation in spots of natural splendor, or spend hours working in the garden. Yet we are also a technological species and have been since we fashioned tools out of stone. Thus one of this century’s central challenges is to embrace our kinship with a more-than-human world--“our totemic self”--and integrate that kinship with our scientific culture and technological selves.
Greater knowledge and transparency are often promoted as the keys to solving a wide array of governance problems. In Instituting Nature, Andrew Mathews describes Mexico’s efforts over the past hundred years to manage its forests through forestry science and biodiversity conservation. He shows that transparent knowledge was produced not by official declarations or scientists’ expertise but by encounters between the relatively weak forestry bureaucracy and the indigenous people who manage and own the pine forests of Mexico.
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.
Ignorance and surprise belong together: surprises can make people aware of their own ignorance. And yet, perhaps paradoxically, a surprising event in scientific research—one that defies prediction or risk assessment—is often a window to new and unexpected knowledge.
Humanity faces immense hurdles as it struggles to define the path toward a sustainable future. The multiple components of sustainability, all of which demand attention, make understanding the very concept of sustainability itself a challenge. Information about whether global agriculture can be made sustainable, for example, or calculations of the global need for water are useless unless we understand how these issues connect to each other and to other components of sustainability.
Gaian theory, which holds that Earth's physical and biological processes are inextricably bound to form a self-regulating system, is more relevant than ever in light of increasing concerns about global climate change. The Gaian paradigm of Earth as a living system, first articulated by James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis in the 1970s, has inspired a burgeoning body of researchers working across disciplines that range from physics and biology to philosophy and politics.
Since 1900, more than 108,000 officially protected conservation areas have been established worldwide, largely at the urging of five international conservation organizations. About half of these areas were occupied or regularly used by indigenous peoples. Millions who had been living sustainably on their land for generations were displaced in the interests of conservation. In Conservation Refugees, Mark Dowie tells this story.
The field of forest economics has expanded rapidly in the last two decades, and yet there exists no up-to-date textbook for advanced undergraduate-graduate level use or rigorous reference work for professionals. Economics of Forest Resources fills these gaps, offering a comprehensive technical survey of the field with special attention to recent developments regarding policy instrument choice and uncertainty.
America is addicted to fossil fuels, and the environmental and geopolitical costs are mounting. A public-private program-- at an expanded scale-- to stimulate innovation in energy policy seems essential. In Structuring an Energy Technology Revolution, Charles Weiss and William Bonvillian make the case for just such a program. Their proposal backs measures to stimulate private investment in new technology, within a revamped energy innovation system.
The internationalization of economies and other changes that accompany globalization have brought about a paradoxical reemergence of the local. A significant but largely unstudied aspect of new local-global relationships is the growth of "localist movements"--efforts to reclaim economic and political sovereignty for metropolitan and other subnational regions. In Localist Movements in a Global Economy, David Hess offers an overview of localism in the United States and assesses its potential to address pressing global problems of social justice and environmental sustainability.