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In this challenging and highly original book, the author tackles the dynamic relationships between physical nature and societies over time. It is argued that within each eco-cultural habitat, the relationship between physical nature and society is mediated by specific entanglements between technologies, institutions, and cultural values. These habitat-specific entanglements are neither ecologically nor culturally predetermined, but result from mutual adaptation based on variation (trial and error) and selection. It is shown how a variety of eco-cultural habitats evolves from this coevolutionary process. The book explores how these varieties come into being and how their specific characteristics affect the capacity to cope with environmental or social problems such as flooding or unemployment.
There are two case studies illustrating the potential of a coevolutionary understanding of the society-nature nexus. In the first, rural and urban settlement structures are conceptualized as distinct paths of eco-cultural adaptation. It is shown that each of these paths is characterized by predictable spatial correspondences between dwelling technologies, modes of social reproduction, cultural preferences, and related patterns in energy consumption (i.e. social metabolism). The second case study deals with flood protection in liberal and coordinated eco, welfare, and production regimes, drawing on lessons from the Netherlands and Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. As a contribution to theory in environmental sociology, the coevolutionary perspective developed provides deeper insights into the intricate interplay between physical and social nature.
This book offers a fresh and innovative account of the history of environmentalism in the United States, challenging the dominant narrative in the field. In the widely-held version of events, the US environmental movement was born with the publication of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring in 1962 and was driven by the increased leisure and wealth of an educated middle class. Chad Montrie's telling moves the origins of environmentalism much further back in time and attributes the growth of environmental awareness to working people and their families. From the antebellum era to the end of the twentieth century, ordinary Americans have been at the forefront of organizing to save themselves and their communities from environmental harm. This interpretation is nothing short of a substantial recasting of the past, giving a more accurate picture of what happened, when, and why at the beginnings of the environmental movement.
Life cycle design is a proactive approach for integrating pollution prevention and resource conservation strategies into the development of more ecologically and economically sustainable product systems. Cross media pollutant transfer and the shifting of other impacts can be avoided by addressing the entire life cycle, which includes raw materials acquisition, materials processing, manufacturing and assembly, use and service, retirement, disposal and the ultimate fate of residuals.
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