American Environmentalism: Values, Tactics, Priorities

American Environmentalism: Values, Tactics, Priorities

American Environmentalism: Values, Tactics, Priorities

American Environmentalism: Values, Tactics, Priorities

Excerpt

The term environmentalism has historical precedents which are not necessarily connected to its present usage. It has referred in the past to the many varieties of geographical determinism. Sorokin wrote more than fifty years ago:

There scarcely is any physical or psychical trait in man, any characteristic in the social organization of a group, any social process or historical event, which has not been accounted for through geographical factors by this or that partisan of this school. Distribution of the population on the surface of the earth, the density of population, racial differences, the character of economic, political, and social organization, the progress and decay of nations, the character of religious ideas and beliefs, the forms of the family and of marriage, health, fertility, intelligence, crimes, suicides, cultural achievements, the number of men of genius, the traits of literature, poetry, and civilization, the movement of economic and social life, in brief, almost all social phenomena have been attributed to geographic influences.

As early as 1788 Lord Kames complained about the "endless number of writers who ascribe supreme efficacy to climate." Not only the climate but also the stars and countless other physical conditions have been perceived as influencing or determining everything from the individual personality to the rise and fall of empires. That is, environment has been seen as all-powerful, while culture and human nature have been viewed as plastic and easily shaped. Hundreds of important . . .

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