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Living Through the End of Nature
Environmentalists have always worked to protect the wildness of nature but now must find a new direction. We have so tamed, colonized, and contaminated the natural world that safeguarding it from humans is no longer an option. Humanity’s imprint is now everywhere and all efforts to “preserve” nature require extensive human intervention. At the same time, we are repeatedly told that there is no such thing as nature itself—only our own conceptions of it. One person’s endangered species is another’s dinner or source of income. In Living Through the End of Nature, Paul Wapner probes the meaning of environmentalism in a postnature age.
Wapner argues that we can neither go back to a preindustrial Elysium nor forward to a technological utopia. He proposes a third way that takes seriously the breached boundary between humans and nature and charts a co-evolutionary path in which environmentalists exploit the tension between naturalism and mastery to build a more sustainable, ecologically vibrant, and socially just world.
Beautifully written and thoughtfully argued, Living Through the End of Nature provides a powerful vision for environmentalism’s future
About the Author
Paul Wapner is Professor of Global Environmental Politics in the School of International Service at American University. He is the author of Environmental Activism and World Civic Politics, winner of the 1997 Harold and Margaret Sprout Award for the best book on international environmental affairs.
Table of Contents
- Living Through the End of Nature
- Living Through the End of Nature
- The Future of American Environmentalism
- Paul Wapner
- The MIT Press
- Cambridge, Massachusetts
- London, England
- © 2010
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form by any electronic or mechanical means (including photocopying, recording, or information storage and retrieval) without permission in writing from the publisher.
- For information about special quantity discounts, please send email to <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
- This book was set in Sabon by the MIT Press.
- Printed on recycled paper and bound in the United States of America.
- Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
- Wapner, Paul Kevin.
- Living through the end of nature : the future of American environmentalism / Paul Wapner.
- p. cm.
- Includes bibliographical references and index.
- ISBN 978-0-262-01415-1 (hardcover : alk. paper)
- 1. Environmentalism—United States. 2. Conservation of natural resources—United States. I. Title.
- GE197.W37 2010
- 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
- To Diane, Eliza, and Zeke
- for everything
- Acknowledgments ix
- Note on Photographs and Sources xi
- 1 Introduction 1
- 2 American Environmentalism and Boundaries 35
- 3 The Dream of Naturalism 53
- 4 The Dream of Mastery 79
- 5 The Great Vanishing :
- Into the Postnature World 107
- 6 The Nature of Wilderness 133
- 7 The Nature of Climate Change 169
- 8 Being an Environmentalist :
- Decisive Uncertainty and the Future of American Environmentalism 201
- Notes 221 References 237
- Index 249
—Peter Dauvergne, Professor of Political Science and Canada Research Chair in Global Environmental Politics, University of British Columbia, author of Shadows of Consumption
—William McDonough, author of Cradle to Cradle
—Bill McKibben, author of Earth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet
—Mark Dowie, author of Losing Ground: American Environmentalism at the Close of the Twentieth Century (MIT Press)