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Ethics, Biopolitics, and Saving the Natural World
Against Ecological Sovereignty is a passionate defense of radical ecology that speaks directly to current debates concerning the nature, and dangers, of sovereign power. Engaging the work of Bataille, Arendt, Levinas, Nancy, and Agamben, among others, Mick Smith reconnects the political critique of sovereign power with ecological considerations, arguing that ethical and political responsibilities for the consequences of our actions do not end with those defined as human.
Against Ecological Sovereignty is the first book to turn Agamben’s analysis of sovereignty and biopolitics toward an investigation of ecological concerns. In doing so it exposes limits to that thought, maintaining that the increasingly widespread biopolitical management of human populations has an unrecognized ecological analogue—reducing nature to a “resource” for human projects. Smith contends that a radical ecological politics must resist both the depoliticizing exercise of sovereign power and the pervasive spread of biopolitics in order to reveal new possibilities for creating healthy human and nonhuman communities.
Presenting a stinging critique of human claims to sovereignty over the natural world, Smith proposes an alternative way to conceive of posthumanist ecological communities—one that recognizes the utter singularity of the beings in them.
History, Science, and the Politics of Uncertainty
Taking on what one former U.S. ambassador called “the last ghost of the Vietnam War,” this book examines the far-reaching impact of Agent Orange, the most infamous of the dioxin-contaminated herbicides used by American forces in Southeast Asia. Edwin A. Martini’s aim is not simply to reconstruct the history of the “chemical war” but to investigate the ongoing controversy over the short- and long-term effects of weaponized defoliants on the environment of Vietnam, on the civilian population, and on the troops who fought on both sides. Beginning in the early 1960s, when Agent Orange was first deployed in Vietnam, Martini follows the story across geographical and disciplinary boundaries, looking for answers to a host of still unresolved questions. What did chemical manufacturers and American policymakers know about the effects of dioxin on human beings, and when did they know it? How much do scientists and doctors know even today? Should the use of Agent Orange be considered a form of chemical warfare? What can, and should, be done for U.S. veterans, Vietnamese victims, and others around the world who believe they have medical problems caused by Agent Orange? Martini draws on military records, government reports, scientific research, visits to contaminated sites, and interviews to disentangle conflicting claims and evaluate often ambiguous evidence. He shows that the impact of Agent Orange has been global in its reach affecting individuals and communities in New Zealand, Australia, Korea, and Canada as well as Vietnam and the United States. Yet for all the answers it provides, this book also reveals how much uncertainty—scientific, medical, legal, and political—continues to surround the legacy of Agent Orange.
The Outer Banks of North Carolina
The constant assault of natural forces make fragile barrier islands some of the most rapidly changing locations in the world, but human activities have had enormous impact on these islands as well. In Altered Environments, Jeffrey and Kathleen Pompe explore the complex interactions between nature and human habitation on the resilient Outer Banks of North Carolina. The Pompes employ modern and historical photographs and maps to illustrate the geographic and ecologic changes that have taken place on the Outer Banks, evaluating efforts to preserve these lands and also meet the evolving needs of a growing population. The Pompes examine the various forces that have created an environment so very different from the Outer Banks of only a few decades ago. The defining event in the reshaping of the islands for expanded development was the dune-construction project of the 1930s, when the Civilian Conservation Corps constructed a wall of self-sustaining dunes along 125 miles of Outer Banks shoreline in an effort to stave off beach erosion. This event created a historical demarcation in conservation efforts and heralded the beginning of a period of rapid economic development for the Outer Banks. The construction project reshaped the islands' geography to accomplish perceived economic advantages and prepared the Outer Banks for the last half of the twentieth century, when tourists increasingly visited this shore, bringing corresponding developments in their wake. The dune-restoration project is just one of the Pompes' examples of how human actions have altered the islands to meet the demands of a growing number of visitors and residents. While Altered Environments focuses on the Outer Banks, the narrative also considers social, environmental, and economic issues that are relevant to much of the seashore. Most coastal communities face similar problems, such as natural disasters and shoreline erosion, and in recent decades rapid population growth has exacerbated many conservation problems. Real-estate developments, the fisheries industry, tourism, climate change, and oil exploration all come under scrutiny in this investigation. Using the Outer Banks as a case study to frame a host of environmental challenges faced along the Atlantic seaboard today, the Pompes provide a valuable commentary on the historical context of these concerns and offer some insightful solutions that allow for sustainable communities.
Oil and Gas Development in Louisiana's Wetlands
In the post--World War II era, Louisiana's coastal wetlands underwent an industrial transformation that placed the region at the center of America's energy-producing corridor. By the twenty-first century the Louisiana Gulf Coast supplied nearly one-third of America's oil and gas, accounted for half of the country's refining capacity, and contributed billions of dollars to the U.S. economy. Today, thousands of miles of pipelines and related infrastructure link the state's coast to oil and gas consumers nationwide. During the course of this historic development, however, the dredging of pipeline canals accelerated coastal erosion. Currently, 80 percent of the United States' wetland loss occurs on Louisiana's coast despite the fact that the state is home to only 40 percent of the nation's wetland acreage, making evident the enormous unin-tended environmental cost associated with producing energy from the Gulf Coast.
In American Energy, Imperiled Coast Jason P. Theriot explores the tension between oil and gas development and the land-loss crisis in Louisiana. His book offers an engaging analysis of both the impressive, albeit ecologically destructive, engineering feats that characterized industrial growth in the region and the mounting environmental problems that threaten south Louisiana's communities, culture, and "working" coast. As a historian and coastal Louisiana native, Theriot explains how pipeline technology enabled the expansion of oil and gas delivery -- examining previously unseen photographs and company records -- and traces the industry's far-reaching environmental footprint in the wetlands. Through detailed research presented in a lively and accessible narrative, Theriot pieces together decades of political, economic, social, and cultural undertakings that clashed in the 1980s and 1990s, when local citizens, scientists, politicians, environmental groups, and oil and gas interests began fighting over the causes and consequences of coastal land loss. The mission to restore coastal Louisiana ultimately collided with the perceived economic necessity of expanding offshore oil and gas development at the turn of the twenty-first century. Theriot's book bridges the gap between these competing objectives.
From the discovery of oil and gas below the marshes around coastal salt domes in the 1920s and 1930s to the emergence of environmental sciences and policy reforms in the 1970s to the vast repercussions of the BP/Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, American Energy, Imperiled Coast ultimately reveals that the natural and man-made forces responsible for rapid environmental change in Louisiana's wetlands over the past century can only be harnessed through collaboration between public and private entities.
The Cranberry in a New Environment
The cranberry, Vaccinium macrocarpon, is one of only three cultivated fruits native to North America. The story of this perennial vine began as the glaciers retreated about fifteen thousand years ago. Centuries later, it kept Native Americans and Pilgrims alive through the winter months, played a role in a diplomatic gesture to King Charles in 1677, protected sailors on board whaling ships from scurvy, fed General Grant’s men in 1864, and provided over a million pounds of sustenance per year to our World War II doughboys. Today, it is a powerful tool in the fight against various forms of cancer. This is America’s superfruit.
This book poses the question of how the cranberry, and by inference other fruits, will fare in a warming climate. In her attempt to evaluate the effects of climate change, Susan Playfair interviewed growers from Massachusetts west to Oregon and from New Jersey north to Wisconsin, the cranberry’s temperature tolerance range. She also spoke with scientists studying the health benefits of cranberries, plant geneticists mapping the cranberry genome, a plant biologist who provided her with the first regression analysis of cranberry flowering times, and a migrant beekeeper trying to figure out why the bees are dying.
Taking a broader view than the other books on cranberries, America’s Founding Fruit presents a brief history of cranberry cultivation and its role in our national history, leads the reader through the entire cultivation process from planting through distribution, and assesses the possible effects of climate change on the cranberry and other plants and animals. Could the American cranberry cease growing in the United States? If so, what would be lost?
A Quaternary and Recent Faunal Adventure
With its temperate climate and variety of habitats, Michigan supports a diverse array of animals and plants, including fifty-four species of amphibians and reptiles. The dispersal and biology of the Michigan herpetofauna—amphibians and reptiles—is even more unique because Michigan consists of two peninsulas that project into large freshwater seas and also because it was completely covered by a massive ice sheet a relatively short time ago. In The Amphibians and Reptiles of Michigan: A Quaternary and Recent Faunal Adventure, author J. Alan Holman explores the state’s amphibians and reptiles in detail and with many helpful illustrations, making this the only volume of its kind available. Holman uniquely bridges the gap between neo- and paleoherpetology and shows that Michigan’s modern herpetofaunas reflect Pleistocene (ice age) and Holocene (warm period after the ice age) events, as the entire modern population was forced to re-invade the state after the last withdrawal of ice. In Part 1, Holman discusses Michigan as an amphibian and reptile habitat, including a geological, climatic, and vegetational history. Part 2 presents recent species accounts, covering all fifty-four species of amphibians and reptiles, along with their general distribution, Michigan distribution (with range maps), geographic variation, habitat and habits, reproduction and growth, diet, predation and defense, interaction with humans, behavioral characteristics, population health, and general remarks. In Part 3, Holman examines the Michigan herpetofauna in Quaternary and recent historical times and the species accounts include Pleistocene, Holocene, and archaeological records. Color photographs of major herpetological habitats in Michigan are provided and color photographs of all modern species are included. Black-and-white illustrations depict both modern and ancient speicies. Herpetologists, paleontologists, zoologists, ecologists, and general biologists, as well as anyone who loves salamanders, frogs, turtles, and snakes will appreciate the comprehensive research presented in The Amphibians and Reptiles of Michigan.
Reflections on Redecorating Nature
What is it really like to be a dog? Do animals experience emotions like pleasure, joy, and grief? Marc Bekoff's work draws world-wide attention for its originality and its probing into what animals think about and know as well as what they feel, what physical and mental skills they use to live successfully within their social community. Bekoff's work, whether addressed to scientists or the general public, demonstrates that investigations into animal thought, emotions, self-awareness, behavioral ecology, and conservation biology can be compassionate as well as scientifically rigorous.In Animal Passions and Beastly Virtues, Bekoff brings together essays on his own ground-breaking research and on what scientists know about the remarkable range and flexibility of animal behavior. His fascinating and often amusing observations of dogs, wolves, coyotes, prairie dogs, elephants, and other animals playing, leaving and detecting scent-marks ("yellow snow"), solving problems, and forming friendships challenge the idea that science and the ethical treatment of animals are incompatible.
Essays on Culture and Species Death
We live in an era marked by an accelerating rate of species death, but since the early days of the discipline, anthropology has contemplated the death of languages, cultural groups, and ways of life. The essays in this collection examine processes of—and our understanding of—extinction across various domains. The contributors argue that extinction events can be catalysts for new cultural, social, environmental, and technological developments—that extinction processes can, paradoxically, be productive as well as destructive. The essays consider a number of widely publicized cases: island species in the Galápagos and Madagascar; the death of Native American languages; ethnic minorities under pressure to assimilate in China; cloning as a form of species regeneration; and the tiny hominid Homo floresiensis fossils ("hobbits') recently identified in Indonesia. The Anthropology of Extinction offers compelling explorations of issues of widespread concern.
Environmental Relationships in The Lord of the Rings
With the box office successes of movies based on The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, familiarity with J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle-Earth is growing. Unfortunately, scholarship dealing with Middle-Earth itself is comparatively rare in Tolkien studies, and students and scholars seeking greater insight have few resources. Similarly, although public concern for the environment is widespread and “going green” has never been trendier, ecocriticism is also an underserved area of literary studies. Arda Inhabited fills a gap in both areas by combining ecocritical and broader postmodern concerns with the growing appreciation for Tolkien’s Middle-Earth.
Susan Jeffers looks at the way different groups and individuals in The Lord of the Rings interact with their environments. Drawing substantially on ecocritical theory, she argues that there are three main ways these groups relate to their setting: “power with,” “power from,” and “power over.” Ents, Hobbits, and Elves have “power with” their environments. Dwarves and Men draw “power from” their place, interacting with the world symbolically or dialectically. Sauron, Saruman, and Orcs all stand as examples of narcissistic solipsism that attempts to exercise “power over” the environment. Jeffers further considers how wanderers in Middle-Earth interact with the world in light of these three categories and examines how these relationships reflect Tolkien’s own moral paradigm.
Arda Inhabited responds to environmental critics such as Neil Evernden and Christopher Manes, as well as to other touchstones of postmodern thought such as Hegel, DeSaussure, Adorno, and Deleuze and Guattari. It blends their ideas with the analyses of Tolkien scholars such as Patrick Curry, Verlyn Flieger, and Tom Shippey and builds on the work of other scholars who have looked at environment and Tolkien such as Matthew Dickerson and Jonathan Evans. Arda Inhabited demonstrates how Tolkien studies enhances ecocriticism with a fresh examination of interconnection and environment, and ecocriticism enriches Tolkien studies with new ways of reading his work.
Arthur Carhart (1892 -1978), America's first champion of wilderness, the first Forest Service landscape architect, and the most popular conservation writer of mid-century America, won none of the titan status of his contemporary Aldo Leopold. A political maverick, he refused to side with any major advocacy group and none has made him its saint. Carhart was a grassroots thinker in a top-down era. Arthur Carhart, the first biography of this Republican environmentalist and major American thinker, writer, and activist, reveals the currency of his ideas. Tom Wolf elucidates Carhart 's vision of conservation as "a job for all of us," with citizens, municipal authorities, and national leaders all responsible for the environmental effects of their decisions. Carhart loved the local and decried interest groups - from stockmens' associations to wilderness lobbies - as cliques attempting blanket control. He pressured land management agencies to base decisions on local ecology and local partnerships. A lifelong wilderness advocate who proposed the first wilderness preserve at Trappers Lake, Colorado, in 1919, Carhart chose to oppose the Wilderness Act, heartsick at its compromises with lobbies. Because he shifted his stance and changed his views in response to new information, Carhart is not an easy subject for a biography. Wolf traces Carhart's twists and turns to show a man whose voice was distinctive and contrary, who spoke from a passionate concern for the land and couldn't be counted on for anything else. Readers of American history and outdoor writing will enjoy this portrait of a historic era in conservation politics and the man who so often eschewed politics in favor of the land and people he loved.