Publisher: Sage Date of Publication: 2004
Price: £ 14.99 ISBN: 0 7619 3277 1
Pages: xii + 200 Format: Paperback

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1 - Understanding environment; 2 - Ecology; 3 - Biodiversity; 4 - Water; 5 - Energy; 6 - Pollution; 7 - Agriculture; 8 - The urban environment; 9 - Industry; 10 - Climate change and ozone depletion; 11 - Population, consumption and environment; 12 - Environment and development: the links; 13 - Citizen action.



It is one thing to talk about the environment of other areas; it is another to have the same material produced in that region. One of the main criticisms of contemporary environmental education is that it has been too Western-centric both in the production of materials and ideas but also analysis and interpretation. If we are to look at this as one planet it behoves us to take into account alternative perspectives.

A very brief opening chapter highlights the nature of the environment and how we interact with it. From here we look at individual areas within environmental science starting with ecology. This starts with organisation and then goes through the main ideas of trophic interaction as well as give a good account of biodiversity in India. The next theme is biodiversity where the basics are given followed by a description of problems facing India's biodiversity and how indigenous knowledge can be used. Chapter five continues with energy. Starting with global use the chapter continues with a look at current and future energy sources. Pollution is the subject of chapter six which examines the types of pollution and shows how some can be dealt with. Agriculture is a key area for India and so chapter 7 outlines the system but also gives some detail of the early ideas of the Green Revolution. From this point the focus shifts to the human environment. Chapter 8 deals with towns and cities whilst 9 looks at industry. Both chapters go through the basic ideas and then show how India is affected by these. These chapters would not look out of place anywhere showing that the urban/industrial condition is much the same the world over! Another global theme is climate change where chapter 10 gives a very good overview of the basic theory and then looks at the Indian perspective which is far more a recipient of hazards rather than key contributor. Another familiar theme with a new perspective is the population/consumption debate which is the focus of chapter 11. The new work is the position given to the poor in this issue - the idea that poverty can be affected by and effect environmental conditions. The two final chapters unite in a common theme of sustainability. The argument put forward here is not that sustainability might be a nice idea but that it is vital for survival. As the final chapter argues, it's civic action that will alter the situation.

This is a very interesting book. It is a very good introduction to key issues without some of the hype found in Western texts. It has a different perspective in that it's produced by nations whose voice is less often heard (but whose population is soon argued to become the largest!). The chapters are full of examples along with an introductory overview and a series of questions, exercises and discussions at the end making it an interactive read. At a time when we talk much about other areas of the world but read less we should be taking this work more seriously. Certainly it should be a standard text in teacher training situations for the breadth of its approach. Many senior school students would find the overviews easier to understand than in some texts and could use the exercises as awareness training. Overall, a fascinating text.


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