The adoption of the Kyoto Protocol was a major breakthrough in committing industrialized countries to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases, even if the effect is disputed. The protocol works through mechanisms that ascribe value to the environment in terms of those emissions—a numerical value based on carbon, which is then translated into a monetary value. This article reviews the different understandings of value implicated in debates about the environment seen through carbon. It does this by contrasting the values embedded in some of the various initiatives that have resulted from the Kyoto Protocol, and how they relate to the market, government control, and individual consumer morality, among other things. Controversy over carbon trading is entangled in the capacity of carbon to commensurate a wide range of human and non-human actions via their cost in emissions, which nevertheless is countered by moral differentiation.
A New Journal for Contemporary Environmental Challenges
Paige West, Dan Brockington, Jamon Halvaksz and Michael Cepek
Social scientists have been writing about the relationships between people and their surroundings for as long as there has been social scientific inquiry. Fields such as anthropology, economics, history, human geography, law, political science, psychology, and sociology all have long and rich histories of contributing to and pioneering socio-environmental analysis. However, the past 20 years have seen a proliferation of scholarship in the social sciences that is focused on environmental issues. This is due, in part, to changes in our environment that have profound implications for the future of both human society and the environment. It is also due, in part, to the ways in which environmental practitioners have portrayed the causes of these changes. In the 1970s, social scientists, concerned with the ways in which the causes of environmental changes were being attributed to some peoples and not others, felt that their knowledge of social processes and social systems could shed light on these issues (see Blaikie and Brookfield 1987). They thought that the methods and theories of the social sciences could and should be brought to bear on questions about contemporary environmental changes. Climate change, the water crisis, deforestation, desertification, biodiversity loss, the energy crisis, nascent resource wars, environmental refugees, and environmental justice are just some of the many compelling challenges facing society today that were identified by these early scholars as sites in need of social scientific analysis.
Measuring and being measured are some of the fundamental aspects of our worlds. Without them, we cannot live in our environments or function as social beings. But how we measure, and are measured, and to what ends and purposes, matters a great deal. Measurement does not just record; it shapes, changes, and constitutes things. It is not merely descriptive. It is creative. This introduction to the special issue explores how these themes of measurement are played out in diverse settings, including counting fish stocks, migration, social resilience, local measures of sustainability, oil exploitation, forest conservation, calculating ecosystem services, and measuring heat. Collectively, they provide a better understanding of how crucial measurements are formulated, and how they are and can be contested.
Victoria C. Ramenzoni and David Yoskowitz
After Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina, governmental organizations have placed the development of metrics to quantify social impacts, resilience, and community adaptation at the center of their agendas. Following the premise that social indicators provide valuable information to help decision makers address complex interactions between people and the environment, several interagency groups in the United States have undertaken the task of embedding social metrics into policy and management. While this task has illuminated important opportunities for consolidating social and behavioral disciplines at the core of the federal government, there are still significant risks and challenges as quantification approaches move forward. In this article, we discuss the major rationale underpinning these efforts, as well as the limitations and conflicts encountered in transitioning research to policy and application. We draw from a comprehensive literature review to explore major initiatives in institutional scenarios addressing community well-being, vulnerability, and resilience in coastal and ocean resource management agencies.
Measuring the Future with Quantified Heat
Scott W. Schwartz
The quantification of human environments has a history—a relatively short history. This article explores how the notion of quantifiable reality has become naturalized through the privileging of predictive utility as the primary goal of knowledge production. This theme is examined via the invention and application of temperature— how it was sociomaterially constructed and how it is globally restructuring social organization today. Temperature does not exist pervasively throughout all space and time. Physicists may affirm that fluctuations in relative heat are ubiquitous, but as a measurement of these fluctuations, temperature only emerges through arrangements of political and environmental observations. What phenomena do populations deem worthy of observation? How do populations manipulate materials to make such observations? By tracing the origins of thermometry and investigating modern efforts to reconstruct and model ulterior temperatures, I illustrate that temperatures, like other measurements, are cultural artifacts pliable to sociopolitical efforts of control and domination.
The Importance of Native American Philosophies of Naming for Environmental Justice
Controlling the names of places, environments, and species is one way in which settler colonial ontologies delimit the intelligibility of ecological relations, Indigenous peoples, and environmental injustices. To counter this, this article amplifies the voices of Native American scholars and foregrounds a philosophical account of Indigenous naming. First, I explore some central characteristics of Indigenous ontology, epistemic virtue, and ethical responsibility, setting the stage for how Native naming draws these elements together into a complete, robust philosophy. Then I point toward leading but contingent principles of Native naming, foregrounding how Native names emerge from and create communities by situating (rather than individuating) the beings that they name within kinship structures, including human and nonhuman agents. Finally, I outline why and how Indigenous names and the knowledges they contain are crucial for both resisting settler violence and achieving environmental justice, not only for Native Americans, but for their entire animate communities.
Settler colonialism is a form of domination that violently disrupts human relationships with the environment. Settler colonialism is ecological domination, committing environmental injustice against Indigenous peoples and other groups. Focusing on the context of Indigenous peoples’ facing US domination, this article investigates philosophically one dimension of how settler colonialism commits environmental injustice. When examined ecologically, settler colonialism works strategically to undermine Indigenous peoples’ social resilience as self determining collectives. To understand the relationships connecting settler colonialism, environmental injustice, and violence, the article first engages Anishinaabe intellectual traditions to describe an Indigenous conception of social resilience called collective continuance. One way in which settler colonial violence commits environmental injustice is through strategically undermining Indigenous collective continuance. At least two kinds of environmental injustices demonstrate such violence: vicious sedimentation and insidious loops. The article seeks to contribute to knowledge of how anti-Indigenous settler colonialism and environmental injustice are connected.
Valuing Marginalized Environmental Knowledges in the Face of the Neoliberalization of Nature and Science
Brian J. Burke and Nik Heynen
Citizen science and sustainability science promise the more just and democratic production of environmental knowledge and politics. In this review, we evaluate these participatory traditions within the context of (a) our theorization of how the valuation and devaluation of nature, knowledge, and people help to produce socio-ecological hierarchies, the uneven distribution of harms and benefits, and inequitable engagement within environmental politics, and (b) our analysis of how neoliberalism is reworking science and environmental governance. We find that citizen and sustainability science often fall short of their transformative potential because they do not directly confront the production of environmental injustice and political exclusion, including the knowledge hierarchies that shape how the environment is understood and acted upon, by whom, and for what ends. To deepen participatory practice, we propose a heterodox ethicopolitical praxis based in Gramscian, feminist, and postcolonial theory and describe how we have pursued transformative praxis in southern Appalachia through the Coweeta Listening Project.
Sarah Townsend, Anna J. Willow, Emily Stokes-Rees, Katherine Hayes, Peter C. Little, Timothy Murtha, Kristen Krumhardt, Thomas Hendricks, Stephanie Friede, Peter Benson and Gregorio Ortiz
ANDERSON, E. N., Caring for Place: Ecology, Ideology, and Emotion in Traditional Landscape Management
ÁRNASON, Arnar, Nicolas ELLISON, Jo VERHUNST, and Andrew WHITEHOUSE, eds., Landscapes Beyond Land: Routes, Aesthetics, Narratives
BARNARD, Timothy P., ed., Nature Contained: Environmental Histories of Singapore
BARTHEL-BOUCHIER, Diane, Cultural Heritage and the Challenge of Sustainability
FOOTE, Stephanie and Elizabeth MAZZOLINI, eds., Histories of the Dustheap: Waste, Material Cultures, Social Justice
HAKANSSON, Thomas N. and Mats WIDGREN, eds., Landesque Capital: The Historical Ecology of Enduring Landscape Modifications
PERLMUTTER, David and Robert ROTHSTEIN, The Challenge of Climate Change: Which Way Now?
RUPP, Stephanie, Forests of Belonging: Identities, Ethnicities, and Stereotypes in the Congo River Basin
SODIKOFF, Genese Marie, ed., The Anthropology of Extinction: Essays on Culture and Species Death
SWANSON, Drew A., A Golden Weed: Tobacco and Environment in the Piedmont South
WILBER, Tom, Under the Surface: Fracking, Fortunes, and the Fate of the Marcellus Shale
Shubhi Sharma, Rachel Golden Kroner, Daniel Rinn, Camden Burd, Gregorio Oritz, John Burton, Angus Lyall, Pierre du Plessis, Allison Koch, Yvan Schulz, Emily McKee, Michael Berman and Peter C. Little
Downey, Liam. 2015. Inequality, Democracy and the Environment. New York: New York University Press. 336 pp. ISBN 978-1-4798-4379-4.
Fuentes-George, Kemi. 2016. Between Preservation and Exploitation: Transnational Advocacy Networks and Conservation in Developing Countries. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. 344 pp. ISBN 978-0-2620-3428-9.
Fuller, Randall. 2017. The Book That Changed America: How Darwin’s Theory of Evolution Ignited a Nation. New York: Viking. 294 pp. ISBN 978-0-5254-2833-6.
Graham, Otis L., Jr. 2015. Presidents and the American Environment. Lawrence: University of Kansas Press. 411 pp. ISBN 978-0-7006-2098-2.
Gullion, Jessica Smartt. 2015. Fracking the Neighborhood: Reluctant Activists and Natural Gas Drilling. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. 216 pp. ISBN 978-0-2620-2976-6.
Jacka, Jerry K. 2015. Alchemy in the Rain Forest: Politics, Ecology, and Resilience in a New Guinea Mining Area. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. 296 pp. ISBN 978-0-8223-5979-1.
Lewis, Tammy. 2016. Ecuador’s Environmental Movements: Ecoimperialists, Ecodependents, and Ecoresisters. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. 296 pp. ISBN: 978-0-2625-2877-1.
Nustad, Knut. 2015. Creating Africas: Struggles over Nature and Conservation. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 224 pp. ISBN 978-1-8490-4258-1.
Oslender, Ulrich. 2016. The Geographies of Social Movements: Afro-Colombian Mobilization and the Aquatic Space. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. 304 pp. ISBN 978-0-8223-6122-0.
Reno, Joshua O. 2016. Waste Away: Working and Living with a North American Landfill. Berkeley: University of California Press. 288 pp. ISBN 978-0-5202-8894-2.
Reynolds, Kristin, and Nevin Cohen. 2016. Beyond the Kale: Urban Agriculture and Social Justice Activism in New York City. Athens: University of Georgia Press. 224 pp. ISBN 978-0-8203-4949-7.
Smits, Gregory. 2013. Seismic Japan: The Long History and Continuing Legacy of the Ansei Edo Earthquake. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press. 262 pp. ISBN 978-0-8248-3817-1.
Van Horssen, Jessica. 2016. A Town Called Asbestos: Environmental Contamination, Health, and Resilience in a Resource Community. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press. 256 pp. ISBN 978-0-7748-2841-3.