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Behind the Curve Cover

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Behind the Curve

Science and the Politics of Global Warming

by Joshua P. Howe

Between Urban and Wild Cover

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Between Urban and Wild

Reflections from Colorado

Andrea M. Jones

In her calm, carefully reasoned perspective on place, Andrea Jones focuses on the familiar details of country life balanced by the larger responsibilities that come with living outside an urban boundary. Neither an environmental manifesto nor a prodevelopment defense, Between Urban and Wild operates partly on a practical level, partly on a naturalist’s level. Jones reflects on life in two homes in the Colorado Rockies, first in Fourmile Canyon in the foothills west of Boulder, then near Cap Rock Ridge in central Colorado. Whether negotiating territory with a mountain lion, balancing her observations of the predatory nature of pygmy owls against her desire to protect a nest of nuthatches, working to reduce her property’s vulnerability to wildfire while staying alert to its inherent risks during fire season, or decoding the distinct personalities of her horses, she advances the tradition of nature writing by acknowledging the effects of sprawl on a beloved landscape.

Although not intended as a manual for landowners, Between Urban and Wild nonetheless offers useful and engaging perspectives on the realities of settling and living in a partially wild environment. Throughout her ongoing journey of being home, Jones’s close observations of the land and its native inhabitants are paired with the suggestion that even small landholders can act to protect the health of their properties. Her brief meditations capture and honor the subtleties of the natural world while illuminating the importance of working to safeguard it.

Probing the contradictions of a lifestyle that burdens the health of the land that she loves, Jones’s writing is permeated by her gentle, earnest conviction that living at the urban-wild interface requires us to set aside self-interest, consider compromise, and adjust our expectations and habits—to accommodate our surroundings rather than force them to accommodate us.

Beyond Biotechnology Cover

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Beyond Biotechnology

The Barren Promise of Genetic Engineering

Craig Holdrege

In 2001 the Human Genome Project announced that it had successfully mapped the entire genetic content of human DNA. Scientists, politicians, theologians, and pundits speculated about what would follow, conjuring everything from nightmare scenarios of state-controlled eugenics to the hope of engineering disease-resistant newborns. As with debates surrounding stem-cell research, the seemingly endless possibilities of genetic engineering will continue to influence public opinion and policy into the foreseeable future. Beyond Biotechnology: The Barren Promise of Genetic Engineering distinguishes between the hype and reality of this technology and explains the nuanced and delicate relationship between science and nature. Authors Craig Holdrege and Steve Talbott evaluate the current state of genetic science and examine its potential applications, particularly in agriculture and medicine, as well as the possible dangers. The authors show how the popular view of genetics does not include an understanding of the ways in which genes actually work together in organisms. Simplistic and reductionist views of genes lead to unrealistic expectations and, ultimately, disappointment in the results that genetic engineering actually delivers. The authors explore new developments in genetics, from the discovery of “non-Darwinian” adaptative mutations in bacteria to evidence that suggests that organisms are far more than mere collections of genetically driven mechanisms. While examining these issues, the authors also answer vital questions that get to the essence of genetic interaction with human biology: Does DNA “manage” an organism any more than the organism manages its DNA? Should genetically engineered products be labeled as such? Do the methods of the genetic engineer resemble the centuries-old practices of animal husbandry? Written for lay readers, Beyond Biotechnology is an accessible introduction to the complicated issues of genetic engineering and its potential applications. In the unexplored space between nature and laboratory, a new science is waiting to emerge. Technology-based social and environmental solutions will remain tenuous and at risk of reversal as long as our culture is alienated from the plants and animals on which all life depends.

Beyond Earth Day Cover

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Beyond Earth Day

Fulfilling the Promise

Gaylord Nelson, with Susan Campbell and Paul A. Wozniak

    Gaylord Nelson is known and respected throughout the world as a founding father of the modern environmental movement and creator of one of the most successful and influential public awareness campaigns ever undertaken on behalf of global stewardship: Earth Day.
    Now in his eighties, Nelson delivers a timely and urgent message with the same eloquence with which he has articulated the nation’s environmental ills through the decades. He details the planet’s most critical concerns—from species and habitat losses to global climate changes and population growth. In outlining his strategy for planetary health, he inspires citizens to reassert the environment as a top priority.
    A book for anyone who cares deeply about our environment and wants to know what we can and must do now to save it, Beyond Earth Day is a classic guide by one of the natural world’s great defenders.

Beyond Resource Wars Cover

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Beyond Resource Wars

Scarcity, Environmental Degradation, and International Cooperation

Edited by Shlomi Dinar

An argument that resource scarcity and environmental degradation can provide an impetus for cooperation among countries.

Beyond Sun and Sand Cover

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Beyond Sun and Sand

Caribbean Environmentalisms

Edited by Sherrie L. Baver and Barbara Deutsch Lynch

Filtered through the lens of the North American and European media, the Caribbean appears to be a series of idyllic landscapes-sanctuaries designed for sailing, diving, and basking in the sun on endless white sandy beaches. Conservation literature paints a similarly enticing portrait, describing the region as a habitat for endangered coral reefs and their denizens, parrots, butterflies, turtles, snails, and a myriad of plant species.

In both versions, the image of the exotic landscape overshadows the rich island cultures that are both linguistically and politically diverse, but trapped in a global economy that offers few options for development. Popular depictions also overlook the reality that the region is fraught with environmental problems, including water and air pollution, solid waste mismanagement, destruction of ecosystems, deforestation, and the transition from agriculture to ranching.

Bringing together ten essays by social scientists and activists, Beyond Sun and Sand provides the most comprehensive exploration to date of the range of environmental issues facing the region and the social movements that have developed to deal with them. The authors consider the role that global and regional political economies play in this process and provide valuable insight into Caribbean environmentalism. Many of the essays by prominent Caribbean analysts are made available for the first time in English.

 

Big Bend's Ancient and Modern Past Cover

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Big Bend's Ancient and Modern Past

Bruce A. Glasrud

The Big Bend region of Texas—variously referred to as “El Despoblado” (the uninhabited land), “a land of contrasts,” “Texas’ last frontier,” or simply as part of the Trans-Pecos—enjoys a long, colorful, and eventful history, a history that began before written records were maintained.

With Big Bend’s Ancient and Modern Past, editors Bruce A. Glasrud and Robert J. Mallouf provide a helpful compilation of articles originally published in the Journal of Big Bend Studies, reviewing the unique past of the Big Bend area from the earliest habitation to 1900.

Scholars of the region investigate not only the peoples who have successively inhabited it but also the nature of the environment and the responses to that environment. As the studies in this book demonstrate, the character of the region has, to a great extent, dictated its history.

The study of Big Bend history is also the study of borderlands history. Studying and researching across borders or boundaries, whether national, state, or regional, requires a focus on the factors that often both unite and divide the inhabitants. The dual nature of citizenship, of land holding, of legal procedures and remedies, of education, and of history permeate the lives and livelihoods of past and present residents of the Big Bend.

Big Ecology Cover

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Big Ecology

The Emergence of Ecosystem Science

David C. Coleman

In Big Ecology, David C. Coleman documents his historically fruitful ecological collaborations in the early years of studying large ecosystems in the United States. As Coleman explains, the concept of the ecosystem—a local biological community and its interactions with its environment—has given rise to many institutions and research programs, like the National Science Foundation’s program for Long Term Ecological Research. Coleman’s insider account of this important and fascinating trend toward big science takes us from the paradigm of collaborative interdisciplinary research, starting with the International Geophysical Year (IGY) of 1957, through the International Biological Program (IBP) of the late 1960s and early 1970s, to the Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) programs of the 1980s.

Big Thicket Plant Ecology Cover

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Big Thicket Plant Ecology

An Introduction, Third Edition

Geraldine Ellis Watson

Originally published in 1979, Geraldine Ellis Watson’s Big Thicket Plant Ecology is now back in print. This updated edition explores the plant biology, ecology, geology, and environmental regions of the Big Thicket National Preserve. After decades of research on the Big Thicket, Watson concluded that the Big Thicket was unique for its biological diversity, due mainly to interactions of geology and climate. A visitor in the Big Thicket could look in four different directions from one spot and view scenes typical of the Appalachians, the Florida Everglades, a southwestern desert, or the pine barrens of the Carolinas. Watson covers the ecological and geological history of the Big Thicket and introduces its plant life, from longleaf pines and tupelo swamps to savannah wetlands and hardwood flats. “This is the work on the plant biology of the Big Thicket.”—Pete A.Y. Gunter, author of The Big Thicket

Binocular Vision Cover

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Binocular Vision

The Politics of Representation in Birdwatching Field Guides

Spencer Schaffner

From meadows to marshlands, seashores to suburbs, field guides help us identify many of the things we find outdoors: plants, insects, mammals, birds. In these texts, nature is typically represented, both in words and images, as ordered, clean, and untouched by human technology and development. This preoccupation with species identification, however, has produced an increasingly narrow view of nature, a “binocular vision,” that separates the study of individual elements from a range of larger, interconnected environmental issues. In this book, Spencer Schaffner reconsiders this approach to nature study by focusing on how birds are presented in field guides. Starting with popular books from the late nineteenth century and moving ultimately to the electronic guides of the current day, Binocular Vision contextualizes birdwatching field guides historically, culturally, and in terms of a wide range of important environmental issues. Schaffner questions the assumptions found in field guides to tease out their ideological workings. He argues that the sanitized world represented in these guides misleads readers by omitting industrial landscapes and so-called nuisance birds, leaving users of the guides disconnected from environmental degradation and its impact on bird populations. By putting field guides into direct conversation with concerns about species conservation, environmental management, the human alteration of the environment, and the problem of toxic pollution, Binocular Vision is a field guide to field guides that takes a novel perspective on how we think about and interact with the world around us.

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