Critical Political Ecology: The Politics of Environmental Science

Critical Political Ecology: The Politics of Environmental Science

Language: English

Pages: 336

ISBN: 0415185637

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Critical Political Ecology brings political debate to the science of ecology. As political controversies multiply over the science underlying environmental debates, there is an increasing need to understand the relationship between environmental science and politics. In this timely and wide-ranging volume, Tim Forsyth uses an innovative approach to apply political analysis to ecology, and demonstrates how more politicised approaches to science can be used in environmental decision-making.

Critical Political Ecology examines:
*how social and political factors frame environmental science, and how science in turn shapes politics
*how new thinking in philosophy and sociology of science can provide fresh insights into the biophysical causes and impacts of environmental problems
*how policy and decision-makers can acknowledge the political influences on science and achieve more effective public participation and governance.

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showing that some hill farmers trigger some landslides in order to improve soil fertility, and facilitate the construction of terraces (Kienholz et al., 1984). Similarly, other research has revealed that increasing population may also not lead to accelerated erosion. For example, in both the Machakos region of Kenya and in Peru, Tiffen and Mortimore (1994) and Preston et al. (1997) argued that careful land management could mean “more people, less erosion” (although these claim have been

cultivation on steeper slopes, as many farmers appreciate that this is where erosion, and hence declining soil fertility, is highest. Anti-orthodoxy Thompson et al., 1986; Hamilton, 1987; Ives and Messerli, 1989; Metz, 1991; Forsyth, 1996; Gyawali, 2000; Calder and Aylward, 2002 orthodoxies are explanations that have questionable accuracy and relevance. Seeking more accurate, and more relevant, explanations must therefore require examining questions of epistemology and ontology concerning

growth or economic activities on environmental degradation. As a result, many land-use policies based upon environmental orthodoxies may end up not addressing the underlying biophysical causes of environmental degradation, and may even unfairly restrict local livelihood strategies of poor people. How did such unhelpful and inaccurate explanations come into being? This chapter examines how such “orthodox” explanations of environmental degradation have evolved, and in particular focusing on the

“crisis” as an alleged indication of the failings of economic growth and modernity). Adopting a constructivist position usually implies agreeing with principles of relativism. But, ironically, neither relativism nor constructivism necessarily implies a rejection of realism (although they do imply a rejection of orthodox Realism), and so it is possible to be realist, relativist, and constructivist at the same time. Source: Harré, 1986; Castree, 1995; Harré and Krausz, 1996; Sayer, 1997, 2000;

definition driven by social and political needs. Some forms of vegetation previously considered to be “forest” may be excluded from this definition. This definition may also overlook occasions when fire may form clearings within forest areas at a variety of scales (see Chapters 2 and 3), or when such clearings are formed by agriculturalists. The definition of “forest” is also related to the debate concerning official certification of forests through other means, such as by the Forest Stewardship

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