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In The Global and the Local: An Environmental Ethics Casebook, Dale Murray presents fifty-one actual, unique, and compelling case studies. The book covers a wide variety of environmental topics from those as global as overfishing, climate change, ocean acidification, and e-waste, to those topics as local as whether we should place salt on the driveway during winter, construct rain gardens, or believe we have a duty to hunt.

The book also features an easy to read, yet rigorous introductory section exposing readers to ethical theories and approaches to environmental ethics. By interweaving these theoretical considerations into long and short case studies, Murray illuminates a comprehensive range of the most pressing environmental issues facing our biosphere both today and in the future.

This book is also available in paperback.

In The Green Studies Reader (2000) Laurence Coupe suggests that ‘Nature is perhaps the most complex word in the language’ and argues that ‘green studies […] hinges on the recognition of the complexity of that word and of our relation to whatever it denotes’. The opening section of this essay reviews the difficulties this question has posed to contemporary ecocritical theory. It discusses in particular the tension, identified by Martin Ryle, between ‘nature-endorsing’ approaches – those that take certain texts at face value as ‘true’ records of landscapes, natural processes and environmental practice – and ‘nature-sceptical’ approaches – those that interrogate the uses to which ‘nature’ is put in texts e.g. the social paradigms being proposed.

Part two of the essay argues that nineteenth-century critics have already confronted this specific question – what is nature? Parham then seeks to establish his own approach to what nature ‘denotes’ with reference to what he sees as the most thorough nineteenth-century attempt to theorize the ‘natural world’ – John Stuart Mill’s essay ‘On Nature’ (1874). The body of his argument studies Mill’s essay and highlights the following key arguments: that Mill’s scientifically based understanding that nature has a ‘primary’ or ‘original’ meaning independent of human ‘constructions’; an examination of Mill’s definition of ‘intelligent action’ whereby ‘the activities of men’ are subject to nature’s laws while, nevertheless, ‘Nature [is] a scheme to be amended, not imitated, by Man’ (i.e. within ‘the absolute limits of the laws of nature’ the human race should be free to make adaptations, as indeed do other species); Mill’s conclusion that both human social organisation and the natural environment result from the choice made as to how we live within the ecosystem: ‘by every choice which we make either of ends or of means, we place ourselves to a greater or less extent under one set of laws of nature instead of another’. Finally, the paper looks at how Mill employed this notion of ‘nature’ as the basis for social organisation in the ongoing development of his ‘Principles of Political Economy’. The paper concludes in support of an argument, made by Ryle, that ‘ecocriticism, like green politics, must be centrally concerned with the historical development of “human nature”’.

In: Culture, Creativity and Environment
Editor: Dennis Pavlich
Environmental justice is the subtext of this collection of anxieties around the need for a sustainable future on Planet Earth. Thinkers and scholars from a diversity of backgrounds reflect on what it means and how cultures must change to greet this future. From Romania to Mexico, Bosnia to Canada, Sweden to California authors analyze and recount community experiences and expectations leading to justice for land, sea, air and wildlife. The kind of ethical weltanschauung for a society in which this kind of justice is achievable is suggested. The collection points to the myriad of single instance decisions that we must all make in living our daily lives whether in our homes, workplaces or leisure time. From good policies to sound management, governments, corporations and community-based organizations will find prudent praxis from cover to cover.