Thursday, March 5, 2009

How Much Should a Person Consume?: Thinking Through the Environment

This book presents a provocative comparative history of environmentalism through a study of two large, ecologically and culturally diverse democracies—India and the United States। Guha takes as his point of departure the dominant environmental philosophies in these two countries, identified here as ‘agrarianism’ in India and ‘wilderness thinking’ in the USA. He then proposes an inclusive theoretical framework, ‘social ecology’, which goes beyond these partisan and partial ideologies. This ‘social ecology’ framework is deployed in Guha’s analysis of environmental thought as well as in arriving at a richer understanding of controversies over large dams, state forests, and wildlife reserves. Profiles of three remarkable environmental thinkers and activists—Lewis Mumford, Chandi Prasad Bhatt, and Madhav Gadgil—follow. The concluding chapter poses what the author regards as the fundamental environmental question—how much should a person or country consume?—and explores various answers. Based on research done over two decades, and written with the author's characteristic verve and flair, this book ranges widely over a vast intellectual terrain. It brims with ideas and information on environmental histories, environmental philosophies, environmental scholars, and environmental activists. Guha offers trenchant critiques of privileged and isolationist proponents of conservation, persuasively arguing the case for biospheres that care as much for humans as for other species with which humans must share the earth. How Much Should a Person Consume? is an accessible and deeply felt summation of one pioneering and influential scholar’s views on environmentalism. Like everything else by Ramachandra Guha, this book wears its immense learning lightly. It will be ‘necessary reading’ within the academy even while attracting a large general readership by its lucidity and elegance.
Price : 295
Pages : 276
Year : 2007

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