Critical Political Ecology: The Politics of Environmental Science

By Tim Forsyth | Go to book overview
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“Critical” political ecology and environmental science

This book has discussed various ways in which environmental science and political processes are mutually embedded. The book has drawn upon a wide range of debates to show how scientific statements are made; how social movements and international organizations shape science; and how greater public participation may be allowed in the formulation of scientific statements. This final chapter now seeks to consider the implications of this book for debates in political ecology and for future approaches to environmental science. How does a “critical” political ecology differ from other types of political ecology? How can this book influence debates about the formation and implementation of environmental policy?

The chapter begins with a summary of the book's key arguments, and then goes on to discuss the book's implications for other debates in political ecology and environmental policy. The key themes addressed by this chapter are the relationship of ecology as a science, and ecologism as an ideology; theoretical approaches to explaining the political structures and causes of environmental degradation; and means of incorporating a more politicized approach to science within environmental debate and decisionmaking.

Summary of the book's arguments

The chief purpose of this book has been to challenge many existing beliefs about the separation of environmental science and politics. Many environmental scientists, political activists, and political ecologists have suggested that lines may be drawn between the explanation of environmental problems as a scientific project on one hand, and the discussion of environmental policy as a political project on the other. Instead, this book has argued that environmental science and politics should be seen as coproduced-or as mutually reinforcing at every stage. Politics are not merely stimulated by scientific findings but are prevalent in the shaping and dissemination of environmental science. Politics are also influential in the strategies used to present different environmental explanations as legitimate bases for policy.

This book has advanced many existing discussions of science and poli-


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