Foundations of Environmental Sustainability: The Coevolution of Science and Policy

Foundations of Environmental Sustainability: The Coevolution of Science and Policy

Foundations of Environmental Sustainability: The Coevolution of Science and Policy

Foundations of Environmental Sustainability: The Coevolution of Science and Policy

Synopsis

This book reviews and analyzes the period (roughly from the 1950s to the present) when the "environment" became an issue as important as economic growth, or war and peace; to assess the current situation, and begin planning for the challenges that lie ahead. Most people are aware of both the environmental destruction taking place around the world and of the specter of climate change. The devastation of New Orleans by hurricane Katrina illustrates the potential for disaster when climate change is combined with the mismanaged environmental policy. How did we get to this point? What has been done and what can be done to avoid future environmental disasters? Thirty-two contributing chapter authors (among them, one of the principal drafters of the National Environmental Policy Act, Chief of the African Environment Division and the World Bank, Vice President of the Center for Conservation Innovation at the World Wildlife Fund, President of the Zoological Society of London, former President of the Ecological Society of America) use their unique, authoritative perspective to review the evolution of environmental science and policy in the past half century.
Each author describes the evolution of environmental science and policy in the past half century and consider the challenges of the future. Although the authors of this book come from various fields, they have followed paths that have generally converged on the concept of sustainability. This book attempts to define what sustainability is, how we can achieve it, and what the prospects for sustainability in the future are.

Excerpt

The purpose of this book is to describe and analyze a critical period in the history of human relationships with the environment (roughly from the 1950s to the present), assess where we stand today, and consider the challenges that lie ahead. The authors have all played key roles in the application of ecological science to conservation and to the development of public policy in the United States and throughout much of the world. The chapters that follow present a unique assembly of such leaders, each speaking from his or her own area of expertise.

This book originated when its authors, among others, gathered for a symposium arranged by George Mason University and organized around the life and career of Lee M. Talbot. His work over the last half of the twentieth century is of global distinction. Few others’ careers have so fully spanned environmental science and policy, pioneering both research and application. Lee Talbot’s career marks, and substantially helped bring about, the transition from the concept of conservation to the concept of sustainability.

Those who attended the symposium in Talbot’s honor were an unusually distinguished group; such a gathering is extremely rare. It provided a unique opportunity for us, the editors, to obtain a firsthand overview of the evolution, status, and trends in environmental science and policy. So we invited the participants from the symposium to prepare chapters for this book. Additionally, in order to give greater depth and breadth to the topics covered, we invited another group of equally distinguished scholars (with whom Talbot had also developed working relationships) to prepare chapters on appropriate subjects.

Each author was asked to review the evolution of environmental science and policy in the past half century, to assess the present and consider the challenges of the future. As requested, they have provided critical assessments of both the current situation and the challenges for the future. Although the authors came from a variety of starting points, they followed paths that have generally converged on the concept of sustainability. Consequently this book is titled Foundations of Environmental Sustainability: The Coevolution of Science and Policy.

We wish to thank H. Paige Tucker for her dedication and for the long hours she devoted to this project. Paige well understands the old saying that trying to manage a group of scientists is akin to “herding cats.” Without her efforts, the book never would have been possible. We also thank Megan M. Draheim for her heroic efforts in bringing the last stages of the book to fruition. Robert Jonas helped us transfer hard copy materials into appropriate electronic format. R. Christian Jones, chair of . . .

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