One of the problems we are facing today is that the interest
in environmental matters has far outstripped the production
of clear evidence and rational thought. This can best be sen
in the global warming debate where there are conflicting views,
increasingly bitter argument and yet there are still some issues
that need to be resolved. If there's this much disagreement
amongst adult scientists how can we expect better from our students
(even though we often might do!). One solution to this is to
bring critical thinking and other analytical skills into environmental
material so that science is studied alongside argument preparation.
There's much to be said for this approach especially if knowledge
continues to increase - what we need is critical analysis not
here that this book joins the debate. The fundamental idea is
that you present the basic ideas alongside the means by which
they can be critiqued. Take the first chapter as an example.
Here, the aim is to introduce the reader into the development
of environmental thought. It starts by looking at what constitutes
the environment and the rise of population. This is followed
by a look at key thinkers about population (Malthus, obviously;
Hardin for the 'tragedy' but not Ehrlich's equation, surprisingly).
The ecological footprint gets a mention as one modern way of
looking at impact. The next stage is to consider the nature
of science and how it works from method to peer-reviewed journals.
There's even a part on ethics and justice. The chapter is completed
with a series of questions from comprehension to more critical
reviews. Dotted in the text are small boxes demanding the reader
come to some form of judgement. There's a lot of material packed
in a small space. The turnover of subjects is far faster than
normally seen but it does bring together disparate areas of
study and fits them into some framework for the beginner to
understand. This process continues into chapter two which looks
at economics and policy. Here, new elements are added. A case
study starts the chapter followed by some introductory economic
theory. Two writers are asked to contribute their opposing views
lined up side-by-side. The next part looks at US policy and
the process used to construct it. By now the reader should have
some idea as to how the text is constructed and how it guides
the reader onto following a series of well constructed pathways.
These two chapters are part of a five-chapter collection called
the 'foundations of environmental science' whose ideas underpin
the later work. Part two follows the same notions as seen previously.
Here, the emphasis is on the key issues (population, chapter
6; energy, chapters 13 and 14 etc.). In keeping with the text
there is a second emphasis - solutions - where problems can
be given some positive treatment.
this is a very good book and worthy of attention. For the UK
market it's US-centric approach is perhaps a little too great
for most people's use but this is more than countered for in
the range of cases chosen and the way in which the text is constructed.
It does what it sets out to - give people some of the most basic
science and tie it together with some sound thinking. The range
of cases is excellent: the production is the usual high quality
expected in the US. The result is a very useful text which should
get the most reluctant to make some positive statement about
the environment because it can be agreed surely that we are
in great need of decent debate.