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Living Through the End of Nature: The Future of American Environmentalism (MIT Press) Hardcover – February 12, 2010
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Wapner is one of the world's leading scholars of environmental politics and his latest book, Living Through the End of Nature, is a sophisticated exploration of the future of the environmental movement. If you dream of a better tomorrow, Wapner's book will lead the way.(Peter Dauvergne, Professor of Political Science and Canada Research Chair in Global Environmental Politics, University of British Columbia, author of Shadows of Consumption)
Design is the first signal of human intention. Given the state of the world today, it is clear: nature doesn't have a design problem, people do. As the 'dominant' species our design question now encompasses the entire world and takes us to the essential places of human intention and natural experience and their interdependence. Paul Wapner, with this book, takes us on a richly informed exploration of these essential places so that we may divine a path forward worthy of our promise as a species. For me, as a designer, the fundamental design question remains: 'How do we love all the children of all species for all time?'(William McDonough, author of Cradle to Cradle)
These are important ideas about what nature means, and what it doesn't mean -- it's a strong voice in an intellectual argument that needs to continue, because it bears very heavily on the practical choices we now face.(Bill McKibben, author of Earth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet)
Anyone who grapples with the slippery semantics of 'nature' is practicing a form of intellectual bravery few of us seem willing to endure. And for good reason. As we discover in Paul Wapner's deep and poignant treatment of the subject, there is no easy resting place between an environmentalist's love of nature and his mastery of it.(Mark Dowie, author of Losing Ground: American Environmentalism at the Close of the Twentieth Century (MIT Press))
In this insightful and well-structured book, Wapner points clearly to the dilemmas and difficulties in modern environmentalism. To survive and succeed, it has had to draw boundaries between good and evil, right and wrong, and humans and nature. Yet it is these very borders that have led to polarised dreams of naturalism and mastery. The truth is that there is no such thing as a single environmentalist movement -- it is highly variegated. It will have to find a way into, as Wapner puts it, a 'postnature age'.(Jules Pretty Times Higher Education)
Wapner is right: environmentalists have to adjust to a world without pristine nature. And once they do, they are bound to invent environmental techniques that go beyond creating protected areas. In future, the wilderness may be less wild, but our cities, suburbs, farms and industrial sites will be wilder.(Emma Marris Nature)
Wapner's book is the most sophisticated analysis of the theoretical issues underlying contemporary environmentalism yet written. In easily accessible language, Wapner unveils some of the contradictions facing environmentalism. For example, he shows that while environmentalism 'wants to preserve, conserve, and sustain the more-than-human realm, which involves minimizing our presence, reducing our footprint, and otherwise restraining our interventions,' it is also 'realizing that this cannot be done without extreme intrusion using some of the most sophisticated technologies and managerial types of control'...[His] 'middle path' involves a set of principles to inform environmentalist policies and a spiritual consciousness that requires mindfulness, heartfulness, a respect for the wildness both within nature and within ourselves, and a willingness to accept our state of not fully knowing how to maintain our awareness of the deep mysteries that abide both inside and outside ourselves -- mysteries 'whose wildness is crucial to maintaining our own sense of well-being along with that of the world.'(Tikkun Magazine)
About the Author
Paul Wapner is Associate Professor and Director of the Global Environmental Politics Program 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.
Top Customer Reviews
I hope that Wapner will become a major influence for theorists, practitioners, and politicians. He has important things to say to those who think about and engage with the environment and environmental politics. The "future of American environmentalism" is Wapner's vision for the future, not a prediction.
We are faced with new and complex environmental realities. While politically expedient, the old answers (whether environmentalist or anti-environmentalist) won't help us move forward. Modeling what he preaches, Wapner argues that we need to embrace complexity in our dealings with the earth and, in politics, with each other.
Building on the best of recent work in environmentalism (especially Bill McKibben), Wapner gives an overview of the profound empirical and conceptual changes that have already occurred in "nature." I.e., there is no place on the planet that has not already been impacted by human activity. And there is no single objective meaning to nature. Humans are and henceforward will always be taking part in whatever nature is and/or means. This much, as Wapner explains, has already been established. So, his question is, what now? How do we move forward?
Wapner lays out two extreme views that might--but don't--provide the answer: (1) "the dream of naturalism" held by many environmentalists says if only we can leave nature alone, things will be well; (2) the dream of mastery held by many skeptics of environmentalism says if only we can control nature, things will be well.Read more ›
The book is done to reconcile differences in North America's environmental movement. It's a movemental insider's talking paper, not a popular-appeal book. It could use more examples and fewer well-crafted articulations of theory. But maybe this is the kind of book that makes a real difference for those most involved.
In order to get others to join in this effort we have to move away from doom and gloom and focus on opportunity. The opportunity to build a thriving relationship that integrates nature and humanity and celebrates the wildness in it all including ourselves. Getting others to join aside, having a hopeful outlook on a new, ambiguous, and progressive way forward, I feel is a better place to act from as an environmentalist rather than feeling overwhelmed and cynical based on our past approaches. As Wapner shows, the past idea of setting up a "do not enter sign" just isn't working for wilderness or climate, and we have to be open to moving past that now.
Fantastic, I loved it. Great job!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A fine and compassionate work, written by a big-hearted scholar. Paul Wapner is brilliant educator, one who brings a keen and pellucid mindfulness (born of many years' meditation... Read morePublished on January 6, 2013 by David Abram
This book is on the Rorotoko list. Professor Wapner's interview on "Living through the End of Nature" ran as the Rorotoko Cover Feature on March 2, 2011 (and can be read in the... Read morePublished on October 7, 2011 by ROROTOKO
In "Living Through the End of Nature," Wapner puts a finger on a central paradox not only of environmentalism but of the broader human relationship to the environment, and instead... Read morePublished on August 9, 2010 by ABlackwell
This is a simple elegant book on a profoundly important subject for all those who care about the natural world, the wonders of life in our biosphere and want to think about the... Read morePublished on July 5, 2010 by Simon Dalby