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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.
Environmental Policy in Germany and the United States, 1880-1970
In 1880, coal was the primary energy source for everything from home heating to industry. Regions where coal was readily available, such as the Ruhr Valley in Germany and western Pennsylvania in the United States, witnessed exponential growth-yet also suffered the greatest damage from coal pollution. These conditions prompted civic activism in the form of “anti-smoke” campaigns to attack the unsightly physical manifestations of coal burning. This early period witnessed significant cooperation between industrialists, government, and citizens to combat the smoke problem. It was not until the 1960s, when attention shifted from dust and grime to hazardous invisible gases, that cooperation dissipated, and protests took an antagonistic turn.This book presents an original, comparative history of environmental policy and protest in the United States and Germany. Dividing this history into distinct eras (1880 to World War I, interwar, post–World War II to 1970), Frank Uekoetter compares and contrasts the influence of political, class, and social structures, scientific communities, engineers, industrial lobbies, and environmental groups in each nation. He concludes with a discussion of the environmental revolution, arguing that there were indeed two environmental revolutions in both countries: one societal, where changing values gave urgency to air pollution control, the other institutional, where changes in policies tried to catch up with shifting sentiments. Focusing on a critical period in environmental history, The Age of Smoke provides a valuable study of policy development in two modern industrial nations, and the rise of civic activism to combat air pollution. As Uekoetter's work reveals, the cooperative approaches developed in an earlier era offer valuable lessons and perhaps the best hope for future progress.
Understanding the Development of Modern Social Science
Before the Second World War, social scientists struggled to define and defend their disciplines. After the war, “high modern” social scientists harnessed new resources in a quest to create a unified understanding of human behavior—and to remake the world in the image of their new model man. In Age of System, Hunter Heyck explains why social scientists—shaped by encounters with the ongoing “organizational revolution” and its revolutionary technologies of communication and control—embraced a new and extremely influential perspective on science and nature, one that conceived of all things in terms of system, structure, function, organization, and process. He also explores how this emerging unified theory of human behavior implied a troubling similarity between humans and machines, with freighted implications for individual liberty and self-direction. These social scientists trained a generation of decision-makers in schools of business and public administration, wrote the basic textbooks from which millions learned how the economy, society, polity, culture, and even the mind worked, and drafted the position papers, books, and articles that helped set the terms of public discourse in a new era of mass media, think tanks, and issue networks. Drawing on close readings of key texts and a broad survey of more than 1,800 journal articles, Heyck follows the dollars—and the dreams—of a generation of scholars that believed in “the system.” He maps the broad landscape of changes in the social sciences, focusing especially intently on the ideas and practices associated with modernization theory, rational choice theory, and modeling. A highly accomplished historian, Heyck relays this complicated story with unusual clarity.
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.
A Short History of Osteoporosis
In the middle of the twentieth century, few physicians could have predicted that the modern diagnostic category of osteoporosis would emerge to include millions of Americans, predominantly older women. Before World War II, popular attitudes held that the declining physical and mental health of older persons was neither preventable nor reversible and that older people had little to contribute. Moreover, the physiological processes that influenced the health of bones remained mysterious. In Aging Bones, Gerald N. Grob makes a historical inquiry into how this one aspect of aging came to be considered a disease. During the 1950s and 1960s, as more and more people lived to the age of 65, older people emerged as a self-conscious group with distinct interests, and they rejected the pejorative concept of senescence. But they had pressing health needs, and preventing age-related decline became a focus for researchers and clinicians alike. In analyzing how the normal aging of bones was transformed into a medical diagnosis requiring treatment, historian of medicine Grob explores developments in medical science as well as the social, intellectual, economic, demographic, and political changes that transformed American society in the post–World War II decades. Though seemingly straightforward, osteoporosis and its treatment are shaped by illusions about the conquest of disease and aging. These illusions, in turn, are instrumental in shaping our health care system. While bone density tests and osteoporosis treatments are now routinely prescribed, aggressive pharmaceutical intervention has produced results that are inconclusive at best. The fascinating history in Aging Bones will appeal to students and scholars in the history of medicine, health policy, gerontology, endocrinology, and orthopedics, as well as anyone who has been diagnosed with osteoporosis.
Farming, Antislavery Politics, and Nature Parks in the Civil War Era
The familiar story of the Civil War tells of a predominately agricultural South pitted against a rapidly industrializing North. However, Adam Wesley Dean argues that the Republican Party's political ideology was fundamentally agrarian. Believing that small farms owned by families for generations led to a model society, Republicans supported a northern agricultural ideal in opposition to southern plantation agriculture, which destroyed the land's productivity, required constant western expansion, and produced an elite landed gentry hostile to the Union. Dean shows how agrarian republicanism shaped the debate over slavery's expansion, spurred the creation of the Department of Agriculture and the passage of the Homestead Act, and laid the foundation for the development of the earliest nature parks.
Spanning the long nineteenth century, Dean's study analyzes the changing debate over land development as it transitioned from focusing on the creation of a virtuous and orderly citizenry to being seen primarily as a "civilizing" mission. By showing Republicans as men and women with backgrounds in small farming, Dean unveils new connections between seemingly separate historical events, linking this era's views of natural and manmade environments with interpretations of slavery and land policy.
Sustainability and Environmental Ethics
As industry and technology proliferate in modern society, sustainability has jumped to the forefront of contemporary political and environmental discussions. The balance between progress and the earth’s ability to provide for its inhabitants grows increasingly precarious as we attempt to achieve sustainable development. In The Agrarian Vision: Sustainability and Environmental Ethics, Paul B. Thompson articulates a new agrarian philosophy, emphasizing the vital role of agrarianism in modern agricultural practices. Thompson, a highly regarded voice in environmental philosophy, unites concepts of agrarian philosophy, political theory, and environmental ethics to illustrate the importance of creating and maintaining environmentally conscious communities. Thompson describes the evolution of agrarian values in America, following the path blazed by Thomas Jefferson, John Steinbeck, and Wendell Berry. Providing a pragmatic approach to ecological responsibility and commitment, The Agrarian Vision is a significant, compelling argument for the practice of a reconfigured and expanded agrarianism in our efforts to support modern industrialized culture while also preserving the natural world.
Land, Culture, Conflict, and Hope
Every society expresses its fundamental values and hopes in the ways it inhabits its landscapes. In this literate and wide-ranging exploration, Eric T. Freyfogle raises difficult questions about America’s core values while illuminating the social origins of urban sprawl, dwindling wildlife habitats, and over-engineered rivers. These and other land-use crises, he contends, arise mostly because of cultural attitudes that made sense on the American frontier but now threaten the land’s ecological fabric. To support and sustain healthy communities, profound adjustments will be required. Freyfogle’s search leads him down unusual paths. He probes Charles Frazier’s novel Cold Mountain for insights on the healing power of nature and tests the wisdom in Wendell Berry’s fiction. He challenges journalists writing about environmental issues to get beyond well-worn rhetoric and explain the true choices that Americans face. In an imaginary job advertisement, he issues a call for a national environmental leader, identifying the skills and knowledge required, taking note of cultural obstacles, and looking critically at supposed allies. Examining recent federal elections, he largely blames the conservation cause and its inattention to cultural issues for the diminished status of the environment as a decisive issue. Agrarianism and the Good Society identifies the social, historical, political, and cultural obstacles to humans’ harmony with nature and advocates a new orientation, one that begins with healthy land and that better reflects our utter dependence on it. In all, Agrarianism and the Good Society offers a critical yet hopeful guide for cultural change, essential for anyone interested in the benefits and creative possibilities of responsible land use.
A Guide for First Responders
“In many cases, the communities most ill-prepared to deal with . . . terrorism incidents,” Jason B. Moats writes in the introduction to this book, “are the rural communities that provide . . . food and crops.” Having conducted training across the country for first responders in cities, small towns, and rural communities, Moats for the first time gathers here the knowledge gleaned from research and nearly twenty years’ experience in emergency services and emergency training. Whether used in the field or in the classroom, this manual is designed to help rural communities prepare for an act of agroterrorism. It explains why the U.S. agriculture industry is a target for terrorists and how farms and farming communities across the country are vulnerable. The author lists known biological and chemical agents and their effects, explains model systems for supporting emergency response efforts, and lays out proven plans for gathering personnel and other resources in an orderly, coordinated way. In Agroterrorism: A Guide for First Responders, Moats spells out who should do what and when, providing a critically needed path through the bureaucratic maze of state, national, and interagency homeland security directives. With this book, Moats empowers those on the front lines in rural America, those charged with the responsibility of handling emergency crises in agricultural communities. Armed with the information they need, emergency response agencies, emergency managers, public health professionals, veterinary and animal health practitioners, as well as farmers and producers, will be able to answer the questions: “Where do we start?” “What do we do?” “Who is going to do it?” and “How do we pay for it?” Closing with a complete training program that includes practical exercises formatted for easy use, Agroterrorism: A Guide for First Responders contains resources vital for America’s rural communities, emergency managers, and the agriculture sector that is so central to our national interest.
A Scientist's Take on Creativity
This book is about having ideas and—a much longer haul—making them work. David Jones, best known for his Daedalus column, tells many stories about creators and their creations, including his own fantastical-seeming contributions to mainstream science—such as unrideable bicycles and chemical gardens in space. His theory of creativity endows each of us with a Random-Ideas Generator, a Censor, and an Observer-Reasoner. Jones applies the theory to a wide range of weird scientific experiments that he has conducted for serious scientific papers, for challenging printed expositions, and for presentations to a TV audience. He even suggests new ones, not yet tried! Creativity is as essential to science as curiosity, physical intuition, and shrewd deduction from well-planned experiments. But, says Jones, ingenuity is very uncertain—even for the greatest inventors, about 80 percent of ideas fail. Jokiness can help, and so can lots of random data. Jones has copious clever advice that will help you have that madly brilliant private thought in the first place—and will encourage you to take it further! Neither dense nor demanding, The Aha! Moment is engrossing, edifying, and scientifically serious; yet it is lightly written, has many jokes, and asks lots of silly questions. As Jones shows, it can often pay to take an absurd idea seriously.