Shelves: history , environment , geo-global , temp-modern-late This is a really short, fairly superficial book, but I quite enjoyed it. Much of the material I had already learned before, but it was good for jogging my memory. Essentially, Ramachandra Guha defines "environmentalism" as a movement that looks to implement protection of the earth or the environment into state policy with the hope of ultimately conserving our planet for future generations. Relying on this definition, Guha argues that there have been two periods of environmentalism we continue to live in the second0. The first period emerged during industrialization in Britain, when it became clear that industry had a tendency to destroy natural resources. In large part, the first wave of environmentalism emerged from the Romantic movement before spreading throughout the West and the European empires.
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Guha, Ramachandra. Environmentalism: A global history New York: Longman, How Much Should a Person Consume? In addition to the two books reviewed here, Guha has written numerous other books and essays on environmental history over the last twenty years, including: The Unquiet Woods 1 , This Fissured Land with Madhav Gadgil 2 , Nature, Culture and Imperialism with David Arnold 3 , and Savaging the Civilized 4.
He is now a full time writer. These two books are intellectual histories of environmentalism and environmental movements in America, Europe, India and the world.
These books do not contain historical narratives or scientific analyses of the changing global climate or physical environment. The themes, content and form of these two books have a much in common. But they are intended for very different audiences. Environmentalism: A global history is a brief survey of the ideas and movements that have shaped environmentalism around the world.
It is divided into two parts. Guha calls these ideals: "back to the land," "scientific conservation," and the "wilderness idea," and explores their divergent visions and experimental policies. Within the second wave, environmentalism evolved from an intellectual response into a series of mass movements in America, Europe, and the world. Environmental activists in the United States, Germany and elsewhere brought environmentalism mass appeal and divergent goals in the form of deep ecology and environmental justice movements.
Environmental movements from the global south challenged the ideals and policies of affluent, post-industrialized northern environmentalists. Socialism and Communism confronted the environment in unique ways as well. Finally, in recent decades environmentalists from around the world have gathered in Rio, Kyoto and elsewhere to debate and to develop an increasingly unified global environmental movement, with mixed results.
Guha treats both waves of environmentalism within a global scope, in diverse ecological and national contexts. Yet it covers very similar ideas, characters, movements and geography. The book has three distinct introductions. The first chapter "History sans Chauvinism" is a personal self indulgent?
He develops a complex and nuanced awareness of the diverse constituencies that strive to utilize, regulate, protect and coexist in and with nature, noting many of the minds that directed his path. The second introductory chapter analyzes the origins and development of the Indian environmental movement. Kumarappa, and then focuses on the indigenous activism of the Chipko movement. The third introduction outlines the three environmental ideals noted above in the first wave of environmentalism, herein termed: "agrarianism", "scientific industrialism", and "wilderness thinking or primitivism".
The remainder of the book explores how social ecology may be applied to the forest and the wild in chapters four and five , and in the work of three pioneering social ecologists: Lewis Mumford, Chandi Prasad Bhatt, and Madhav Gadgil in chapters six, seven and eight. Chapters four and five explore the competing claims for wilderness resources and conflicting visions for preservation and sustainability among forest dwellers, villagers, urban middle classes and international elites.
These conflicts often pit poor, rural users of resources against vast urban appetites, elite environmental ideals, and state authoritarian tendencies. The Mumford, Bhatt and Gadgil chapters examine social ecology through the evolving careers of three important and underappreciated scholars and activists. The Gadgil chapter borders on the hagiographic. The final chapter wrestles with the vexing question from the title: how much should a person consume?
The chapter strives to chart a course between insatiable consumerism, which he calls the fallacy of the romantic economist, and neo-Malthusian pessimism or radical deep ecology, which he calls the fallacy of romantic environmentalism. Guha focuses on participatory democracy, accountable resource use, political decentralization, removal of economic subsidies that favor urban consumption of natural resources, sustainable and feasible government policies that balance competing needs and desires for resources, and social equity for the weakest members of society: rural and wilderness communities.
It has a readily comprehensible historical narrative of the evolution of environmentalism from a series of intellectual responses to industrialization toward a boisterous and diverse array of mass movements. It succeeds in its effort to be a global history. World history and world civilizations instructors will find it instructive. A broader range of students can understand it as well. It contains numerous excerpted primary sources to help students and readers appreciate the language and ideas of evolving environmentalists.
Younger students would need significant guidance in analyzing and internalizing the arguments of this text. As an Indian who has lived, worked and studied in the United States and Europe, he offers us his own unique set of prisms for understanding environmentalism. Some of the most provocative ideas both of these books include: agrarianism or back to the land, scientific conservation, wilderness thinking or primitivism, the environmental conflicts between north and south, and social ecology.
They had strong influence on Indians like Gandhi, Kumarappa and Tagore. These 19th century scientists strove to responsibly and efficiently utilize the resources of nature and the wilderness, especially the forest. Nature was whole before human civilization began changing and destroying it.
This movement gave rise to the growth of the Sierra Club and national parks, which restrict human access to the wilderness.
Colonial and national forestry departments strove to protect and regulate use of national resources consistent with scientific conservation, but they excluded the traditional rights of local forest communities.
The building of nature preserves to protect elephants, tigers and lions support the wilderness ideal as well as national symbols of some Asian and African nations. These bring international tourist money to a region; but they also severely restrict the access of local farmers, villagers and tribal forest dwellers to their local resources.
National regimes build huge dams and energy projects for the sake of their growing urban economies, and in response rural and often tribal forest minorities mobilize to protect and preserve their lands and resource rights. Deep ecology movements espouse the equality of all planetary biota, argue for more radical limits on human economies, and are focused on the wilderness; by contrast, social and environmental justice movements focus on human societies, equity within nations and increased equity across international or global communities.
Guha dissects these competing ideals and their competing constituencies in both books.
Environmentalism : a global history