Reading for Environment and Society

Although a little on the dense side, the book Environment and Society: A Critical Introduction was enjoyable to read. My first impression before reading the text was it would read like a textbook, that however, was not the case. As described in the introduction this text is designed “to explain these varied interpretive tools and perspectives and show them in operation” (4). The book is supposed to show the reader what are thinking is on the environment/society relationship and then what we use to make changes or application on the environment.

Throughout the text I found many terms or concepts that were discussed in the other texts we read previously. For example, “anthropocene” was used in Eating Animals as well as other texts. I have also seen a correlation in the concepts from the book and in stuff I learned in my different classes. From taking some Environmental Studies courses to Cultural Anthropology and Urban Society. Terms like “carrying capacity” and “ecological footprint”, I had learned previously in class and it showed up again in this text.

The set up of the text was also really great, because after reading a long section there was an outline of the specifics mentioned in that particular section. Occasionally, I would forget a specific detail that was easily retrievable from the outline. Another great feature was the blue blurbs that had the definitions strategically located to catch your eyes on the side margins. The diagrams charts were helpful to explain the concept or theory being discussed in that section. For example the matrix for Voluntary/Involuntary-Common/Catastrophic, in the section that discussed risks and hazards (88). I thought the term “greenwashing” is closely linked to the idea of brainwashing in that a false perceived image of environmentally friendly is relayed on a product.

The section about shade grown coffee was interesting, I did not know that the more traditional way of growing coffee was in the forests among many other species of flora and fauna. Although this would mean a lower crop yield and production this would allow for the forests to continue to thrive and diversity to increase among the land. In order to work people would have to respect that they would have to pay more for more environmentally friendly produced coffee. This is an excellent example of reconciliation ecology (171). It is bizarre that we have been growing coffee in large deforested land that has lost fertile soil and in direct sunlight, when this was not at all the way it had been done in prior generations.

Current method of producing coffee, this plantation is located in Brazil.

The traditional method of growing coffee within the existent forest and among many species of flora, referred to as “Shade Grown”. This one is located in Nicaragua.

Overall, the book’s organization, section division, and interesting topics of discussion made it enjoyable and want to further research certain concepts and gain a better understanding of what is going on in the world and the human thoughts involved and invested.


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