You would be hard-pressed to find someone who categorically opposes protecting the environment, yet most people would agree that the environmentalist movement has been ineffectual and even misguided. Some argue that its agenda is misplaced, oppressive, and misanthropic - a precursor to intrusive government, regulatory bungles, and economic stagnation. Others point out that its alarmist rhetoric and preservationist solutions are outdated and insufficient to the task of galvanizing support for true reform. In this impassioned and judicious work, R. Bruce Hull argues that environmentalism will never achieve its goals unless it sheds its fundamentalist logic. The movement is too bound up in polarizing ideologies that pit humans against nature, conservation against development, and government regulation against economic growth. Only when we acknowledge the infinite perspectives on how people should relate to nature will we forge solutions that are respectful to both humanity and the environment.
"Infinite Nature" explores some of these myriad perspectives, from the scientific understandings proffered by anthropology, evolution, and ecology, to the promise of environmental responsibility offered by technology and economics, to the designs of nature envisioned in philosophy, law, and religion. Along the way, Hull maintains that the idea of nature is social: in order to reach the common ground where sustainable and thriving communities are possible, we must accept that many natures can and do exist. Incisive, heartfelt, and brimming with practical solutions, "Infinite Nature" brings a much-needed and refreshing voice to the table of environmental reform.
R. Bruce Hull is professor of natural resources at Virginia Tech. He is coeditor of Restoring Nature: Perspectives from the Social Sciences and Humanities.
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