A Good That Transcends: How Us Culture Undermines Environmental Reform

A Good That Transcends: How Us Culture Undermines Environmental Reform

Book - 20170227
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A Good That Transcends is a multi-disciplinary exploration of the ways in which US culture itself is causing failure in environmental reform, and a work that charts a pragmatic path to change. The United States is in a much-different place than it was in 1970 with the birth of the modern environmental movement, and the subsequent differences in equality, or ecological viewpoints, or policy since then all contribute to an increased resistance to new environmental initiatives. But the causes or sources of the differences run deeper, and these deeper sources, not their more obvious manifestations, are what the environmental movement needs to address in order to create a viable path forward. Each chapter in this work converges on aspects of modern culture that make it hard for people to see environmental problems, to appreciate their severity, and to support reform measures. The efforts turn up important evidence of root causes as well as ideas for how we might move ahead today. Probing the writings of Aldo Leopold, Wendell Barry, David Orr, the Pope’s Encyclical, and concepts from property rights to wilderness, Freyfogle leads readers on an illuminating and reflective journey to find the common good that can transcend the institutional and cultural challenges truly inspire environmental reform.

Since the birth of the modern environmental movement in the 1970s, the United States has witnessed dramatic shifts in social equality, ecological viewpoints, and environmental policy. With these changes has also come an increased popular resistance to environmental reform, but, as Eric T. Freyfogle reveals in this book, that resistance has far deeper roots. Calling upon key environmental voices from the past and present—including Aldo Leopold, Wendell Berry, David Orr, and even Pope Francis in his Encyclical—and exploring core concepts like wilderness and the tragedy of the commons, A Good That Transcends not only unearths the causes of our embedded culture of resistance, but also offers a path forward to true, lasting environmental initiatives.

A lawyer by training, with expertise in property rights, Freyfogle uses his legal knowledge to demonstrate that bad land use practices are rooted in the way in which we see the natural world, value it, and understand our place within it. While social and economic factors are important components of our current predicament, it is our culture, he shows, that is driving the reform crisis—and in the face of accelerating environmental change, a change in culture is vital. Drawing upon a diverse array of disciplines from history and philosophy to the life sciences, economics, and literature, Freyfogle seeks better ways for humans to live in nature, helping us to rethink our relationship with the land and craft a new conservation ethic. By confronting our ongoing resistance to reform as well as pointing the way toward a common good, A Good That Transcends enables us to see how we might rise above institutional and cultural challenges, look at environmental problems, appreciate their severity, and both support and participate in reform.

Publisher: University of Chicago Press 20170227
ISBN: 9780226326115


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