Academic journal article Electronic Green Journal

Review: The World System and the Earth System

Academic journal article Electronic Green Journal

Review: The World System and the Earth System

Article excerpt

Review: The World System and the Earth System A. Horberger and C. Crumley (Eds.) Reviewed by A.M. Mannion University of Reading, UK Horberger, A. and Crumley, C. (Eds.). The World System and the Earth System. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press, 2007. 395pp. ISBN: 1-59874-100-4. $34.95 Papercover. Alkaline paper.

People-environment relationships have varied temporally and spatially as has society's attitude to environment. In the first half of the twentieth century the philosophies of determinism and possibilism emerged to describe these relationships. Is nature prescriptive, or is it a set of resources to be exploited or domesticated in various ways for the advancement of humans without much regard for its sustainability? The environmental movements of the post1960s raised environmental awareness and began to change attitudes against a backdrop of increasing globalization; conservation became a watchword and threw together the social and natural sciences which entered an often uneasy alliance.

The situation has altered substantially since then, especially in the context of acknowledged climatic change which is caused by socio-economic development but which is affecting natural systems globally. Science contributed to development via technology and now it must contribute again to establish sustainable development. There is no escape from the intimately linked natural and social sciences. So how do they communicate and how effectively? This was the theme of a conference entitled World- System History and Global Environmental Change at the University of Lund, Sweden, in 2003; its content is the subject matter of The World System and the Earth System, a title which encapsulates the dichotomy but which, interestingly and perhaps ironically, places the social before the natural!

Following a 12-page introduction, the book is divided into three sections. The six chapters of part one deal with the modelling of socioecological perspectives on various time scales and the use of varied lines of evidence which include documentary and sedimentary records for specific areas. …

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