Friday, January 26, 2007

Environmentalism: Past, Present and Future, Intro

Environmentalism Past, Present and Future

T.H. Culhane


In my attempt to give a necessarily restricted overview of the vast body of work that comprises the story of environmentalism from the past to the future I have made the explicit choice of writing in a monologistic style that is patterned on much of the popularized academic literature in the environmental field that forms the basis of these essays, from the iconoclastic environmental and natural histories of Worster, Cronon and Gould, to the morally impassioned rhetorics of the Ehrlichs, E.O. Wilson and Val Plumwood in natural science, Andre Gunder Frank and James Scott in political economy, Herman Daly, Amartya Sen, and Immanuel Wallerstein in economics, to the playful ironies and mindwarping revelations of scientists such as Richard Dawkins, Fritjof Capra, Humberto Maturana and Timothy Weiskel and post modern theorists such as Donna Harraway and (the English translations of) Baudrillard and Lyotard. Most of the literature on the environment, environmentalism, and human relations to "nature" and "our surroundings" has a penchant for hyperbole (exemplified by titles such as Fukuyama’s (1992) “The End of History and the Last Man”) and seems to involve unapologetic wordplay with liberal use of metaphor[1] (e.g. Arthur Koestler’s (1978) Janus: A Summing Up”) , synecdoche[2] (for example, Al Gore's (1992) "Earth in the Balance") and other metonymic devices[3] (Rachel Carson’s (1962) “Silent Spring” is the most famous example), allegory, antiphrasis[4] and aphorism[5] (all found in Garrett Hardin’s seminal 1968 paper “The Tragedy of the Commons”) figurative metalepsis[6] (as in Leo Marx’s (1967) “The Machine in the Garden”) and even the exaggerations of catachresis[7] (as in Peter Huber’s (1999) “Hard Green: Saving the Environment from the Environmentalists”). Environmental literature employs unabashedly perissologic[8] semantic pleonasm[9]. It abounds with "purple prose", hypophora[10] (as in Samuel Huntington’s rhetorically titled (1993) essay “The clash of civilizations?”), circumlocution[11] (an example would be Gross and Leavitt’s (1994) “Higher Superstition: the Academic Left and Its Quarrels with Science”), litotes[12] (such as Frances Drake’s “Global Warming: The Science of Climate Change” which uses the authoritative word ‘science’ to imply that ‘global warming’ is a non-scientific fantasy) , meiosis[13] (as in ostensibly ‘value-neutral’ titles such as Comiso’s (2000) “”Variability and Trends in Antarctic Surface Temperatures from in situ and Satellite Infrared Measurements”), auxesis[14] (found in titles such as Gelbspan's (1998) “The Heat is On: The Climate Crisis, the Cover-Up, the Prescription), “pathetic fallacies” such as prosopopoeia[15] (found in the sobriquet “Mother Earth”), and anthropomorphism (in Budiansky's (1992) "Covenant of the Wild: Why Animals Chose Domestication")[16], procatalepsis[17] (exemplified by Wapner’s (2002) “The Sovereignity of Nature? Environmental Protection in a Post-Modern Age”), innuendo (as in Cole et al. (1975) “Models of Doom: A Critique of the Limits to Growth”) and other discursive schemes and tropes (Hayden White, 1978[18]). It frequently drips with irony[19] (as in Cooke’s (1999) oxymoronic title “Experts in Uncertainty”) and even employs Orwellian “newspeak” when it can (viz. titles such as the Meadows et al. 1992 “Beyond the Limits”, a rejoinder to their 1972 movement galvanizing “Limits to Growth”) In short, Environmentalism is defined by a literature that uses every tool in its arsenal to make its “world saving” point (whether the authors are trying to save our ecology or our economy) and which almost always reveals the authors' biases toward his or her material. Authors in this field seem to be anything but detached. Given Environmentalism's contentious nature and the immediacy and relevance of the subject material to our identity, our comfort and indeed our very survival, this may be as it should be, as long as we are up front about our biases (see Scheper-Hughes 1993[20]). James Proctor, using quotes from Smil (1994) and Callicott (1994) to represent polar opposites of the environmental “voice”, one that speaks in “the realm of facts”, the other “from the perspective of…ethics” says “they are remarkably similar… there are no valueless facts, no factless values here; Smil, a geographer, and Callicott, an environmental ethicisit, both speak fact-values, value-facts in their assessment of global environmental change” (Proctor 1999)[21]. Opie (1983), writing on the pitfalls and opportunities of environmental history in Environmental Review, agrees saying "The environmental historian participates in the gulf between the ecological ideal and historical reality, between the two cultures of science and the humanities, and between disinterested objectivity and the ethical obligation of advocacy."[22]
Thus influenced by the metastylistic characteristics of the works I'm reviewing (while trying to find my own voice), I have chosen to write in what is an emphatically verbal, hopefully readable yet at the same time academically responsible style. The language choices I make speak fact-values and value-facts and attempt to cross link the many different sources I've used and to bridge the gulf between scientific academese and popular scientific speculative fiction, inevitably resting somewhere a bit left of center because of my own predilections. The style I've patterned also assumes a general familiarity with the literature and spends little time restating the position of a given author, preferring instead to use citations in support of (or in antagonism against) a given argument. It is hoped that the reader will come away not only better informed about the tensions and paradoxes in the field of environmental studies but will emerge with their own emotional and heuristically motivated responses that can help resolve these tensions. It is also hoped that the reader will keep in mind throughout the monologue what I believe to be the most salient fact subtending environmentalism – that while you are reading this, and for the first time in 4.5 billion years, there will be a net anthropogenic increase of one new mouth and two new hands every ten seconds.


In these pages I explore the history of environmental thought together with the seminal ideas and thinkers who influenced the way we conceive of the problematic relationship between human beings and their surroundings. This journey takes us from prehistory through the “first wave of modern environmentalism”, when, according to Kay Milton, “environmentalism seems to have grown… out of a long-standing but relatively low-key minority interest, to become a significant, but far from dominating political influence at national and international levels.” (Milton, 1996). The first chapter ends, and second chapter begins at the beginning of the “second wave of environmentalism” when the publication of “Our Common Future” (Brundtland 1987[23]) pooled us into a present of mutual and interrelated concern about how we might sustainably develop in our environment. [A]

The third takes us into the future by exploring past and present ideas of a sustainable society, chiefly drawn from utopian literature and other forms of speculative fiction, and grounds these ideas in the context of how we model reality and use models to make predictions in the face of uncertainty. It is argued that literature and other cultural art forms that speak about future events are usually forms of "world models" specifically designed by their authors to help us make choices about how to engage in planning. Indeed the past, present and future of both environmentalism and what we perceive to be "the environment" itself depend on cognitive maps and typologies that encode our experiences and beliefs, personal and collective, about our relationship to the world outside our minds.[24] We can refer to all of these as "models of nature".

Models of Nature.

Reality, the post-modern project tells us (backed by thousands of years of philosophical inquiry), will forever be hidden from our senses[25]. When Thomas Kuhn published his “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” (1962)[26] and threw the universal validity of the scientific enterprise in doubt, he widened cracks in the modernist utopian pursuit of an omniscient and rational conclusion to the enlightenment out of which crawled a mighty horde of competing interpretations of our environment and our role in it (Downs and Weigert 1999).[27] The paradigm shift that he and thinkers like him engendered was that we operate not on the basis of clear knowledge but within the boundaries of paradigms – indeed it was Kuhn who brought that term into contemporary parlance.

Today we are more sensitive to the idea that we operate on the basis of mental maps and that “the map is not the territory” (Scott, 1998) We call these mental maps “models of nature” and strive to build models that are ever more complete or representative of the reality that lurks behind our filtered perceptions.

David John Frank identifies six popular models of nature broken logically into sets of three. The first three are termed spiritual models, the last three are termed physical models. This is to say that our environment (“nature”) is considered as a spiritual entity or a physical entity. Within these two categories the models are distinguished by our conception of ourselves vis a vis the rest of Nature. We see our environment as separate, connected but subordinate to us, or integrated with us. Naturally there is overlap among all the models.

Table 1. Models, Treaties and Terms that facilitate”seeing” ourselves “apart from” or “a part of” our environment.
Model of Nature

Exemplary Treaty or Act


Savage Model

President Andrew Jackson's Case for the Native American Removal Act; First Annual Message to Congress, 8 December 1830[28]

Spiritual, separate

Edenic Model

American national Parks Acts (Yellowstone National Park Act, 1872)[29]

Spiritual, connected but subordinate

Rights Model

1987 European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals

Spiritual, integrated

Feral Model

1951 International Plant Protection Convention,

Physical, separate

Resource Model

1946 International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling

Physical, connected but subordinate

Ecosystem Model

1985 Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer

Physical, integrated
Adapted from David John Frank, 1997[30]

In this project I use the “Ecosystem model” identified by David John Frank (1997) for my “non-partial” narrative of natural history. As Downs and Weigert (1999) point out in their analysis of scientific paradigms found in Papal and Episcopal documents, biology as well as the social and behavioral sciences have contributed constructs for a typology to describe and interpret human-environment relations (Ibid). What defines a given typology, situated in "holistic reality" as a necessarily abridged mental map, is what components it includes and what it leaves out. For example, Downs and Weigert (Ibid) found that Catholic documents (representative of the "Edenic Model" of Frank), while including ideas such as the "biosphere" (found explicitly mentioned in the Papal Address of 1980) and "ecosystem", are notable in their absence of concern for the concepts of population dynamics as a concern, and their lack of recognition of the idea of "carrying capacity." One might similarly criticize the Ecosystem model for its seeming lack of concern with spiritual dimensions or covenants, although this differs between scientific uses of the model and that used by deep ecologists. As Kempton et al. (1995) point out:

“The ‘ecosystem’ model employed by scientists and environmentalists is not exactly the same. Although the environmentalist version of the ecosystem model builds on scientific research, it is both out of date and more conservative than the latest scientific orthodoxy (Kempton, Boster and Hartley 1995)

By "out of date" the authors are suggesting that many environmentalists stubbornly continue to believe that there is something "special" about human beings in their environment (either for good or ill) , and that scientific "orthodoxy" (itself a religious evocative term) dismisses this.

The "orthodox" ecosystem model strives to be non-anthropocentric and treats human beings conceptually as if we were just another species in the vast creative panoply of evolving organisms on a decentered planet earth in a decentered solar system tucked away on one of the outer spiral arms of an average galaxy floating in a vast, endlessly expanding void in which there are countless other galaxies scattered about randomly and at such distances from one another that there is far more nothingness than there is being (Sartre 1943 [1966][31], Lyotard, 1997[32]). This radical decentering has the advantage of looking at environmentalism with as little emotional investment as possible to see what the magnitude and direction of environmental change we are currently experiencing implies for any given species, our own included, and hopefully helps us to better understand our role and possible agency in the complex dynamic.

This ecosystem model may not be the best fit, and policies made by human beings based on it may or may not be of benefit to human beings or their companion species on planet Earth (The "Wise Use" movement has certainly captured this dissatisfaction, putting "humans first" (Bidinotto 1990[33], Arnold and Gottlieb 1994[34]) instead of "Earth First" (Foreman 1985[35], 1991[36]; Abbey 1975[37], 1990[38]; Wall 1999[39]). But to start a review of environmental history and the history of environmentalism, it is necessary to step as far away from the homocentric bias as possible. This model, or paradigm, is popular among a new breed of scientized environmentalists who use it to link past, present and possible future environmental events. For example, Buddycom, a science teacher in Japan who maintains an extensive and oft-visited website about environmentalism writes,

“Viewing contemporary events from a pre-ecological paradigm, we missed their significance. From an ecological paradigm we can see that fewer members of the species Homocolossus [sic] than of the species Homo sapiens [sic] can be supported by a finite world… what we called “pollution” and regarded at first as either a mere nuisance or an indication of the insensitivity of industrial people to aesthetic values, can no be recognized as a signal from the ecosystem. If we had learned to call it “habitat damage,” we might have read it as a sign of the danger inherent in becoming colossal…"
(, Level 4)[40]

It is also popular among environmental scientists and, ironically, though it is a direct descendant of enlightenment science, is used to defeat human-centered notions of enlightenment progress. Eckersley (1990) for example in “Habermas and Green Political thought” (p. 739) criticizes Habermas' devotion to anthropocentric enlightenment universalism and the privileging of "reason" through communicative action. Recognizing that Habermas has long been a Green Party sympathizer, he nonetheless conducts his critique from “the perspective of the more radical ecocentric stream of Green political spectrum” which he prefers because it doesn't eclipse non-human, non-vocal others who nonetheless share the earth with us and who, if there is a such thing as "rights" also have the right to continue their co-evolutionary trajectory. The idea is that Habermas' passion for "reason" itself, though a laudable way out of 'corrosive relativism', is part of what got us into trouble in the first place when we privileged human forms of reason over non-human forms of reason, and thus cannot be used to get us out of the mess. The post-modern hybridity of the ecosystem model sees us and our environments as shared "extended phenotypes" (Dawkins 1982) with fluid boundaries and telekinetic jumping genes whose transposition “can provide a means to rapidly reorganize the genome in response to environmental stress” (Barbara McClintock, 1983 Nobel Prize lecture[41]; see Westphal, 2002 for future implications of this insight for the creation of “designer animals”)[42]; in this context we must resituate Human Reason as one of a suite of epiphenomic governors guiding the Invisible Hand that maximizes the systemic benefits for all eco-systemic but self-interested possessors of selfish genes. By this logic human reason must be dethroned, though never discarded. Reports Mitchell Stephens (1994) in the Los Angeles Times, in a review of Habermasian thought,

Reason is the tool we use to divine what is correct and construct those out-of-favor generalizations, so in the postmodern age it is particularly suspect. The late French philosopher Michel Foucault derided reason as just another instrument of oppression, just another weapon on the battlefield. Another French philosopher, Jean-Francois Lyotard, who teaches at UC Irvine, has argued that the "triumph of reason," which we tend to credit for science or democracy or MacNeil-Lehrer, is merely a "narrative" we tell ourselves -- a bedtime story for those of us who haven't outgrown the belief in progress.[43]

This de-privileging of “reason” is becoming the norm among post-modern environmentalists and follows a trajectory that goes back to Descartes, Kepler, Copernicus and Galileo,[44] now pushing the envelope through expansion of the theories of “Morphic Resonance”, introduced by Rupert Sheldrake in 1981[45] and “Autopoiesis” introduced by Varela and Maturana in 1973.[46] “Morphic Resonance” involves the existence of “morphogenetic fields” that evolve while imposing patterns on development and behavior. Sheldrake posits that

“The fields organizing the activity of the nervous system are likewise inherited through morphic resonance, conveying a collective, instinctive memory. Each individual both draws upon and contributes to the collective memory of the species. This means that new patterns of behaviour can spread more rapidly than would otherwise be possible.”[47]

The implication of post-modern biology and cybernetic science is that human reason – a collectively mediated output of the nervous system – is an expected emergent property of biological systems and is subject to natural selection. Autopoesis, which describes the dynamics and persistence of non-equilibrium states and dissipative structures, is implicated in the self-organization of living systems and emergent forms of semiotic feedback loops and also has causal implications for the evolution of “reason.” Autopoietically, reason becomes merely another machine component and, again, an inevitable consequence of biological evolution. Autopoiesis thus points toward the completion of Descartes’ materialist project, erasing the Cartesian mind-body dualism that undergirded all models of nature with the exception of the ecosystem model by subsuming both “mind” and “body” into one cybernetic whole (for general discussions see Capra 1997[48], also Ayala 1970[49], Bateson 1991[50]; Luhmann 1986[51] has applied autopoietic theory to social systems). Ecosystem model environmentalism, in its attempt to "environ" everything, seems to throw nothing out, but rather to keep widening the horizon. As Bron Taylor (1999) points out, "radical environmentalism is a dynamic mix of cross-fertilizing ideas and people[52]". In its quest to reintegrate humanity into living and livable surroundings, environmentalism set about the task of appropriating everything, even seemingly antagonistic views, because its mandate is survival for the whole world, not just privileged members and parts of it. It is a curious side effect of the Enlightenment project, which was intended to emancipate humanity from fixed rules and limits, that it has taken away the privilege of unlimited freedom by questioning humanities very raison d'etre. In effect "reason" has been used to undercut "reason" in a bid to make the relationship between humans and their environment more reasonable (Stephens, Ibid).

Interestingly, the mystical earth-goddess and witchcraft notions of Charlene Spretnak and Starhawk notwithstanding, the grassroots environmentalism movements of "Deep Ecology" (Naess 1973[53]; Devall and Session, 1985[54]) and eco-feminized "Environmental Justice", as well as many of the attitudes of mainstream environmentalism in the late 20th century, were not at all the outgrowth of some pagan or neo-primitive overthrow of scientific reason that some authors would like to suggest (for example see the "straw-man alarmism" of Bookchin and Biehl and of Kassman himself in Kassman 1998[55]). They were actually in sync with the insights of emerging post-war scientific thought and political ecology, occurring on the cutting edge of the post-modern critique of the oppressive uses of state-captured notions of reason, and in coherence with the insights of a Science that had moved beyond Euclidean Geometry and Newtonian Physics into cybernetics (Wiener 1948[56]) and chaos theory (Gleick 1987[57]). Gaining strength in an era when Physicists such as Fritjof Capra (in the Tao of Physics, 1975[58]) were popularizing Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle and other ideas of quantum mechanics and merging them with the rediscovery of Eastern Philosophy that the Beatles were bringing to public consciousness, all the while employing arguments from cutting edge biology, the environmental movement birthed itself in the womb of a more complete post-colonial Scientific World Model that for the first time tried to integrate all the data we were getting about the natural world with thoughts about the human-nature relationship from the whole world. Far from being "anti-science" Environmentalism Past was, in fact, science-led.

Says Frank,

“The entity nature was transformed by science over the last 120 years, becoming conceptually integrated into the routine physical functions of human society. The transformation is evident in the world social definition and organization of nature as ecosystem. A seemingly endless array of interdependencies was discovered, and the cultural and organizational apparatus of the ecosystem welded human society and nature together as one. As pointed out by Pepper (1984), humanity is now viewed as but one natural species, encompassed within and dependent on a wider nature. Meanwhile, other models of nature – savage, feral, edenic, resource and rights – declined in relative importance.” P. 428[59]

This "neutral" model is not without its advantages to a self serving humanity. At a time when the Cartesian split with nature and the Baconian exhortation to dominate nature, backed by over a thousand years of religious support (White, 1967), and the rise of Industrial Capitalism (and market oriented socialism) is held responsible for so much of our alienation from nature (Marx 1844[60], and quoted in Foster 2000[61]; Polanyi 1957[62]) the inclusion of population and carrying capacity and "limits to growth" into our models of reality, along with an extension of compassion and rights to non-vocal others, helps give explicit focus to areas of potential leverage that could radically improve a deteriorating human condition and a worsening business climate, ironically making the 'hyperecologies' of mainstream environmentalism potentially the highest form of hydra-headed capitalism (Luke, 1997).

“The rise of the ecosystem model suggests a paradigm shift (Kuhn, 1962) in which the gulf distinguishing human society from nature was bridged by a latticework of physical interdependencies. The term ecosystem was coined in 1935 but “ a cybernetic systems concept of the basic unit of ecology did not take form until after World War II” (Harraway 1989: 391) The imagination and global institutionalization of nature-as-ecosystem have fundamentally altered humankind’s relationship to the universe, welding humans and nature into a unified and mutually supporting whole.” (Frank op.cit. P. 430).

It is this concept of "mutual support" that is reflected both in the popular understanding of the Gaia concept in Environmentalism Past and in Environmentalism Present's "Fast Capitalism" attempt to capture an economic valuation of "ecosystem services" and nature's "buffering" capacity (see chapter II).

Whatever the underlying reality is[63], I have made the explicit choice in these documents to use the idea of "environment" as a space-time matrix in which life forms of no greater or lesser importance compete and cooperate to maximize the efficiency with which they process low-entropy energetic and material states into higher-entropy states (Daly, 1995[64]) , reproducing in a more or less sustainable manner whenever they can create widening circles of Schrödinger's local "negentropy"[65] through co-evolution and in which "value" is contigent on historical context and the cognitive understandings of spatio-temporal assemblages of organisms.

"Environmentalism" I define as any movement that seeks to maximize the negentropic initiative for the largest number and for the longest time[66].

Layout of the Book

Each of the three chapters in this series follows the same format. We start with I) "Ecology" (Natural History), move through II) " Production" (Technology and its socioeconomic relations) into III) "Cognition" (The mental realm of ideas, ethics, myths and so on) and finally into IV) "Reproduction, which interacts with the other three levels." This breakdown explicitly follows the three analytical levels Donald Worster in "Transformations of the Earth" but adds the missing gender perspective and fourth analytical level called for by Carolyn Merchant in "Gender and Environmental History" , By organizing the book in such a way such a perspective assumes as its existential bias (against the solopsists) that I) there is a natural world with an ecology (called "environment") that preceded us, embeds us and flows through us, and that will follow us when we've gone extinct, that II) the "real" world has been modified and transformed by our tools and activities, by our art and our artifacts[67], that III) such tool use arose from, gave rise to and created a positive feedback loop with "mind", the epiphenomenon of cognitive development in specialized ganglia, creating a sense of awareness of "environment" and a desire to willfully transform it, and that IV) the interplay of nature, technology and cognition allow all three to reproduce and thus perpetuate and evolve through the creation of ritualized[68], often gender-differentiated and socially legitimized "acts"[69]. Thus in each chapter the structure is played out like a Greek Drama, only the time and characters differing.

[A] There are other taxonomies of course; Yvard-Djahansouz (2000) calls the first wave of mainstream environmentalism the old conservation movement of the last century, epitomized by the romantic/transcendentalist inspirations of Henry David Thoreau scientized by George Perkins Marsh alongside the more "radical" preservationist movements of John Muir; he calls the second wave of mainstream environmentalism the movement of the three L's – lobbying, legislation and litigation --alongside the more militant political activism of the early 1970's as its more radical counterpart and the third wave of mainstream environmentalism he calls the movement of the “battle for the environment from the courtroom to the board room" alongside the more grassroots and radical environmentalisms of environmental justice movements (pp.113-114). In my trilogy I cluster his first two waves (and previous historical movements of concern with the environment) as environmentalism past, and his third wave as environmentalism present, and I leave the third wave for the unwritten future.

[1] Says Wikipedia: “In his book, ‘Guru: Metaphors from a psychotherapist’, Sheldon Kopp states:’Generally, a metaphor is defined as a way of speaking in which one thing is expressed in terms of another, whereby this bringing together throws new light on the character of what is being described. (p.17)’

[2] From Wikipedia: “Synecdoche is a figure of speech that presents a kind of metaphor in which: A part of something is used for the whole, The whole is used for a part, The species is used for the genus, The genus is used for the species, or The stuff of which something is made is used for the thing.” The title of Al Gore’s “Earth in the Balance” is a kind of synecdoche.

[3] From Wikipedia: “In cognitive linguistics, metonymy is one of the basic characteristics of cognition. It is extremely common for people to take one well-understood or easy-to-perceive aspect of something and use that aspect to stand either for the thing as a whole or for some other aspect or part of it. In rhetoric, metonymy is the substitution of one word for another with which it is associated.”

[4] Antiphrasis: A word or words used contradictory to their usual meaning, often with irony – Wikipedia. Until Hardin put the phrase “tragedy of the commons” into common parlance the idea of the commons had a positive value in speech.

[5] Aphorism is calling into question the meaning of a term – wikipedia

[6] From Wikipedia: “Metalepsis is a figure of speech in which one thing is referenced by something else which is only remotely associated with it. Often the association works through a different figure of speech, or through a chain of cause-and-effect. Oftentimes metalepsis refers to the combination of several figures of speech into an altogether new one.” The title of Leo Marx’s famous environmental book “The Machine in the Garden” is doubly metaleptic: The machine is a reference to industrial society and the Garden is a reference to pastoral Nature. The remoteness of the associations are their affiliations with Descartes’ mind-body dualism, derogatorily described as “the ghost in the machine” by Gilbert Ryle in 1949 in his book “The Concept of Mind” and popularized by Arthur Koestler in his 1967 book “The Ghost in the Machine”, and with the book of Genesis in the Bible. Since “garden” – a managed subset of life forms - is often used as a contrast to “nature” – a wild totality – Marx’s title, in which ‘garden’ is conceived as the mediating space between man and nature found in pastoralism, is revealed as particularly metaleptic, demanding full knowledge of its antecedents to make his point.

[7] From wikipedia: “Catachresis is the (usually intentional) use of any figure of speech that flagrantly violates the norms of a language community. Compare malapropism. Common forms of catachresis are:
Using a word to denote something radically different from its normal meaning.: 'Tis deepest winter in Lord Timon's purse – Shakespeare, Timon of Athens. Using a word out of context: 'Can't you hear that? Are you blind?' Using paradoxical or contradictory logic. Creating an illogical mixed metaphor: To take arms against a sea of troubles... – Shakespeare, Hamlet. Catachresis is often used to convey extreme emotion or alienation, and is prominent in baroque literature and, more recently, in the avant-garde.” In environmental circles a typical catachresis would be the title of Peter Huber’s 1999 book “Hard Green: Saving the Environment from the Environmentalists, a Conservative Manifesto” (New York: Basic Books).

[8] Perissologia is the fault of wordiness, something I suffer from.

[9] Pleonasm is the use of superfluous or redundant words. Semantic pleonasm introduces rendundant words to contextualize objects in the plurivalency of a multi-cultural world, as in the use of the word cluster “tuna fish” where “fish” sounds redundant until we recognize that Hispanics call the fruit of the Nopale cactus “tuna” and our readers may be bicultural or bilingual.

[10] “hypophora -- answering one’s own rhetorical questions or ‘erotema’ at length.

[11] Circumlocution – “’talking around’ a topic by substituting or adding words, as in euphemism or periphrasis (wikipedia definition)

[12] Litotes – “emphasizing the magnitude of a statement by denying its opposite”

[13] Meiosis – (not biological meiosis, which is forming egg and sperm) “use of understatement, usually to diminish the importance of something.” From Wikipedia.

[14] Auxesis is a “form of hyperbole, in which a more important sounding word is used in place of a more descriptive term’.

[15] personification/prosopopoeia/anthropomorphism: Attributing a personality to some impersonal object, as in “Mother Earth”

[16] Budiansky Stephen (1992) The covenant of the wild: why animals chose domestication
Leesburg, Va.: Terrapin Press

[17] Procatalepsis – refuting anticipated objections as part of the main argument.

[18] Tropics of discourse: essays in cultural criticism HV White - 1978 - Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press

[19] Titles such as Roger M. Cooke’s (1991) Experts in Uncertainty (New York: Oxfor Press) capture this irony very well.

[20] Scheper-Hughes Nancy (1993) Death without weeping the violence of everyday life in Brazil - Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press

[21] Proctor JD (1999) Geography and ethics: journeys in a moral terrain DM Smith, Chapter 11:2

[22] Opie, John (1983) "Environmental History: Pitfalls and Opportunities," Environmental Review 7: 8-16, quotation on p. 15.

[23] Brundtland, GH (1987) Report of the World Commission on environment and development:" our common future." New York: United Nations

[24] Downs and Weigert (1999) say "There is some awareness [in religious models] that common environmental problems may function as an empirical source of solidarity. Scientific sources of holistic models, on the other hand, do not share the transcendent affirmation; they remain within a natural frame and project only shared empirical futures."

[25] One can go back to Plato's "shadows on the wall of the cave"; Auguste Comte's Positivism and other heirs to the Enlightenment project suggested to some that we could get a handle on reality, but even in the sciences and math this notion was fairly demolished by the rise of quantum mechanics in physics.

[26] Kuhn, Thomas S (1962) The Structure of Scientific Revolutions Chicago: University of Chicago,

[27] Downs and Weigert (1999) Scientific and Religious Convergence toward an Environmental Typology? A Search for Scientific Constructs in Papal and Episcopal Documents, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, Vol. 38 No. 1 (Mar. 1999), 45-58; p. 45


[29] Ross-Bryant, Lynn (2005) Sacred Sites: Nature and Nation in the U.S. National Parks ‹Religion and American Culture Winter Vol. 15, No. 1, Pages 31-62 Associate Professor of Religious Studies

[30] Frank, David John (1997) "Science, Nature, and the Globalization of the Environment, 1870-1990." Social Forces 76:409-435.

[31] Sartre, Jean Paul (1943) "Being and nothingness: an essay in phenomenological ontology", HE Barnes 1943 (1966) - New York: Citadel Press "According to Sartre, we could not exceed the limits of our experiences; we remain within the phenomenological limits of experience. Though he accepted Husserl's approach to study, Sartre rejected Husserlian Idealism, considering the concept of a transcendental ego solipsism -- only the self is real. Sartre was a critic of this school of thought, preferring the idea being consists of more than consciousness, yet is at the same time fixed in a reality."

[32] Lyotard, Jean Francois (1997) Moralites postmodernes. Paris: Editions Galilee, 1993. In English translation by Georges van den Abbeele, Postmodern Fables. Minnesota: The University of Minnesota Press, 1997. In "A Postmodern Fable" Lyotard narrates the story of the universe from its creation to nine billion years later when the sun in our solar system is completely burnt out and the intelligent life on earth--no longer human--must leave in spaceships (Moralites Chapter 6; Fables 83-103). Midway in the story exists the human race during its postmodern way of thinking. This situation suggests the hubris of our postmodern worldview and the consequent potential for disaster" from

[33] Robert Bidinotto, "Environmentalism:Freedom's Foe for the '90s," The Freeman, Nov.1990,414.

[34] Ron Arnold and Alan Gottlieb, Trashing the Economy: How Runaway Environmentalism is Wrecking America, Free Enterprise Press, Bellevue, Washington, 2nd ed., 1994, pp. 57-67 et passim.

[35][35] D Foreman - 1985 Ecodefense: a field guide to monkeywrenching Tucson, Ariz.: Earth First! Books

[36] D Foreman - 1991 Confessions of an eco-warrior - New York: Crown Pub.

[37] Abbey, Edward, (1975) The monkey wrench gang 1st ed. Philadelphia : Lippincott, 352 p

[38] E Abbey (1990) Hayduke Lives! - Little Brown and Company

[39] Wall, D. 1999 Earth first! Radical Environmentalism and Comparative social movements.



[42] See Westphal, Sylvia Pagán (2002) Jumping genes make "designer" animals easy” 19:00 27 March 2002 Exclusive from New Scientist Print Edition


[44] Cosgrove, Dennis (1990) Environmental thought and action: pre-modern and post-modern, in Trans. Inst. Br. Geogr. N.S. 15:344-358: 350

[45] Sheldrake Rupert (1981) A new science of life: the hypothesis of formative causation Los Angeles: New York

[46] Maturana, Humberto & Varela, Francisco ([1st edition 1973] 1980). Autopoiesis and Cognition: the Realization of the Living. Robert S. Cohen and Marx W. Wartofsky (Eds.), Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science 42. Dordecht: D. Reidel Publishing Co. see for a full reading list

[47] Sheldrake Online: MORPHIC FIELDS AND MORPHIC RESONANCE. - An Introduction

[48] Capra, Fritjof (1997). The Web of Life. Random House

[49] AYALA, Francisco J. (1970) Teleological explanations in evolutionary biology, Philosophy of Science, March, pp. 1-15.

[50] BATESON, Gregory (1991) A Sacred Unity: Further steps to an Ecology of Mind, A Cornelia and Michael Bessie Book, New York: Harper Collins,

[51] Luhmann, Niklas (1986)The autopoiesis of social systems, in Geyer, F., and J. van der Zouwen, (eds.), Sociocybernetic Paradoxes, London: SAGE Publications, pp. 172 ff.

[52] Taylor, Bron (1999) Journal of Political Ecology: Case Studies in History and Society VOLUME 6 (1999) online

[53] Naess, Arne. (1973) "The Shallow and the Deep, Long-Range Ecology Movement: A Summary". Inquiry, 16 (1973), pp. 95-100.

[54] B Devall, G Sessions - 1985 Deep ecology Salt Lake City, Utah: GM Smith

[55] Kassman, Kenn (1998) Envisioning Ecotopia: The U.S. Green Movement and the Politics of Radical Social Change, Westport, CT: Praeger, 160 pp, reviewed in the Journal of Political Ecology online

[56] Wiener, Norbert (1948) Cybernetics or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine, (Hermann Editions in Paris; Cambridge: MIT Press,Wiley & Sons in NY

[57] Gleick, James (1987) Chaos Penguin Books

[58] Capra, Fritjof (1975)THE TAO OF PHYSICS Shambhala Publications, Inc. 1123 Spruce Street Boulder,
Colorado 80302

[59] (From David John Frank, Science, Nature, and the Globalization of the Enviroment, 1870 – 1990. Social Forces, Vol. 76, No. 2 (Dec., 1997), 409-435.)

[60] Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844. Karl Marx Estranged Labour, online at

[61] Foster, John Bellamy (2000) Marx's Ecology: Materialism and Nature New York: Monthly Review Press

[62] Polanyi cited in Babe, Robert E. (1996) Economics and Information: Toward a New (and More Sustainable) Worldview Canadian Journal of Communication, Volume 21, Number 2 online at

[63] "It is generally taken as read among post-Kuhnian philosophers of science that all scientific theories are underdetermined by the facts. Moreover, sensory experience is underdetermined by sensory input" p. 767 of Robin Eckersley (1990) Habermas and Green Political Thought: Two Roads Diverging, Theory and Society, Vol. 19, No. 6, 739-776

[64] Daly, Herman (1995) The Irrationality of Homo Economicus online at

[65] Schrödinger E. (1944) What is Life? Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. See Mae-Wan Ho What is (Schrödinger's) Negentropy? In Modern Trends in BioThermoKinetics 3, 50-61, 1994 online at

[66] This capture's Jeremy Bentham's "The greatest good for the greatest number" and places it within a depersonalized Heidegerrian concept of "being" within an ecological materials flow framework. In the early 1950s Grant McConnell, Jr., called for a political adjudication of our environmental and political visions. He pointed out the arbitrary nature of Gifford Pinchot's noble-sounding formula (The greatest good for the greatest number over the longest time), noting that such a determination depended on whom you asked. No technocrat can determine the greatest good on the basis of some secret expertise or privileged knowledge. We need to resolve our disparate visions of the uses of nature and human beings politically, without recourse to privileged knowledge" from Douglas R. Weiner, Demythologizing environmentalism, Journal of the History of Biology (Historical Archive), Volume 25, Issue 3, Sep 1992, Pages 385 - 411

[67] We recognize that it has also been transformed by the tool use of some other primates and birds (Goodall, 1964 Tool-using and aimed throwing in a community of free-living chimpanzees
Nature, Griffin 1976 The question of animal awareness: evolutionary continuity of mental experience New York: Rockefeller University Press) and by the activities of insects (termites, ants) and, the classic example, beavers, to say nothing of the impacts of every other living organism, from algae and fungi to plants (Margulis and Lovelock, 1974 Atmospheric homeostasis by and for the biosphere- The Gaia hypothesis Tellus, but Homos sapiens spatiotemporal effects are of a magnitude that is distinctive.

[68] In nearly all animal species, from dancing insects to courting birds, reproduction is a ritualized act. These rituals act as pre-mating isolating mechanisms that prevent individuals from wasting energy in mating attempts with other species and actually help define the species boundary. See tk. From this evolutionary history we can see that nearly all forms of reproduction- biological, technological, social, cultural, work best through ritual.

[69] My look at reproduction is closest to Anthony Gidden's concept of "structuration". As Richard White says in "Environmental History, Ecology and Meaning (Journal of American History) "As a sociologist, Giddens in concerned with the complex "reproduction of social practices," and his stress on the patterning of social systems in time and space (a concern he shares with Braudel) has a historical and geographical bent missing from most social theory… examining replication and change in historical environments rather than departures from some stable environmental ideal…by drawing historian's attention to the interplay of ideational and material elements, analysis of such replication would uncover the material consequences of social and economic practices while rejecting the functionalism and materialism that seem always to lie latent in the concerns of environmental history" p. 1116

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