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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.
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.
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.
Pacific Rim Indigenous Nations Face the Climate Change
Indigenous nations are on the frontline of the climate crisis of the twenty-first century. With cultures and economies among the most vulnerable to climate-related catastrophes, Native peoples are developing responses to climate change that serve as a model for Native and non-Native communities alike.
Native American tribes in the Pacific Northwest and Indigenous peoples around the Pacific Rim have already been deeply affected by droughts, flooding, reduced glaciers and snowmelts, seasonal shifts in winds and storms, and the northward shifting of species on the land and in the ocean. Having survived the historical and ecological wounds inflicted by colonization, industrialization, and urbanization, Indigenous peoples are using tools of resilience that have enabled them to respond to sudden environmental changes. They are creating defenses to harden their communities, mitigate losses, and adapt where possible.
Asserting Native Resilience presents a rich variety of perspectives on Indigenous responses to the climate crisis, reflecting the voices of more than twenty contributors, including tribal leaders, Native and non-Native scientists, scholars, and activists from the Pacific Northwest, British Columbia, Alaska, and Aotearoa / New Zealand. Also included is a resource directory of Indigenous governments, NGOs, and communities that are researching and responding to climate change and a community organizing booklet for use by Northwest tribes.
An invaluable addition to the literature on climate change, Asserting Native Resilience will be useful for students of environmental studies, Native studies, geography, and rural sociology, and will serve as an important reference for Indigenous leaders, tribal members, and environmental agency staff.
Project Dribble and the Quest for Nuclear Weapons Treaty Verification in the Cold War Era
In Atomic Testing in Mississippi, David Allen Burke illuminates the nearly forgotten history of America’s only nuclear detonations east of the Mississippi River. The atomic tests, conducted in the mid-1960s nearly 3,000 feet below ground in Mississippi’s Tatum Salt Dome, posed a potential risk for those living within 150 miles of the site, which included residents of Hattiesburg, Jackson, Gulfport, Biloxi, Mobile, and New Orleans. While the detonations provided the United States with verification methods that helped limit the world’s nuclear arsenals, they sparked widespread public concern. In 1964 and 1966 the Atomic Energy Commission conducted experiments at the salt dome—code-named Dribble—surrounded by a greater population density than any other test site in the United States. Although the detonations were not weapons tests, they fostered a conflict between regional politicians interested in government-funded science projects and a population leery of nuclear testing near their homes. Even today, residents near the salt dome are still fearful of long-term negative health consequences. Despite its controversy, Project Dribble provided the technology needed to detect and assess the performance of distant underground atomic explosions and thus verify international weapons treaty compliance. This technology led to advanced seismological systems that now provide tsunami warnings and detect atomic activity in other nuclear nations, such as Pakistan and North Korea.
Conservation and Management
Although bats are often thought of as cave dwellers, many species depend on forests for all or part of the year. Of the 45 species of bats in North America, more than half depend on forests, using the bark of trees, tree cavities, or canopy foliage as roosting sites. Over the past two decades it has become increasingly clear that bat conservation and management are strongly linked to the health of forests within their range. Initially driven by concern for endangered species—the Indiana bat, for example—forest ecologists, timber managers, government agencies, and conservation organizations have been altering management plans and silvicultural practices to better accommodate bat species. Bats in Forests presents the work of a variety of experts who address many aspects of the ecology and conservation of bats. The chapter authors describe bat behavior, including the selection of roosts, foraging patterns, and seasonal migration as they relate to forests. They also discuss forest management and its influence on bat habitat. Both public lands and privately owned forests are considered, as well as techniques for monitoring bat populations and activity. The important role bats play in the ecology of forests—from control of insects to nutrient recycling—is revealed by a number of authors. Bat ecologists, bat conservationists, forest ecologists, and forest managers will find in this book an indispensable synthesis of the topics that concern them.