In Abundant Earth, Eileen Crist not only documents the rising tide of biodiversity loss, but also lays out the drivers of this wholesale destruction and how we can push past them. Looking beyond the familiar litany of causes—a large and growing human population, rising livestock numbers, expanding economies and international trade, and spreading infrastructures and incursions upon wildlands—she asks the key question: if we know human expansionism is to blame for this ecological crisis, why are we not taking the needed steps to halt our expansionism?
Crist argues that to do so would require a two-pronged approach. Scaling down calls upon us to lower the global human population while working within a human-rights framework, to deindustrialize food production, and to localize economies and contract global trade. Pulling back calls upon us to free, restore, reconnect, and rewild vast terrestrial and marine ecosystems. However, the pervasive worldview of human supremacy—the conviction that humans are superior to all other life-forms and entitled to use these life-forms and their habitats—normalizes and promotes humanity’s ongoing expansion, undermining our ability to enact these linked strategies and preempt the mounting suffering and dislocation of both humans and nonhumans.
Abundant Earth urges us to confront the reality that humanity will not advance by entrenching its domination over the biosphere. On the contrary, we will stagnate in the identity of nature-colonizer and decline into conflict as we vie for natural resources. Instead, we must chart another course, choosing to live in fellowship within the vibrant ecologies of our wild and domestic cohorts, and enfolding human inhabitation within the rich expanse of a biodiverse, living planet.
“Covers a wide range of issues with balance and clarity. . . . I can recommend the book highly as an intermediate-level source of information and insight into the international aspects of the acid rain problem.”—J. F. Hornig, Ambio
“A masterful analysis of the policy problems raised by acid rain in the U.S. and Canada . . . detailed, objective, understandable, and compelling. Weaving substantive and institutional factors into their analysis, the authors skillfully portray the controversy’s multifaceted nature.”—Tracy Dobson, American Journal of International Law
“[A] thorough, well-balanced analysis . . . [that] could serve as a model for analysis of complex policy issues.”—Choice
“Reveals the interface between science, technology, and public policy as being the co-extensive network it really is. . . . Timely and welcomed.”—John de la Mothe, Canadian Public Policy/Analyse de Politiques
The Acid Rain Controversy
James L. Regens University of Pittsburgh Press, 1989 Library of Congress TD196.A25R44 1988 | Dewey Decimal 363.7386
This study describes the origins of acid rain, how it is formed, the ecological and human effects, and prevention methods. It also examines debates within the scientific community as a basis for evaluating policy decisions. A comprehensive review of pollution control techniques questions which technologies are currently available, their future availability, or whether they are merely theoretical. The authors frame the economic and political context for making decisions about acid rain control policy and offer valuable insights about the underlying dynamics of the environmental policymaking process for the near future.
The 1984 explosion of the Union Carbide chemical plant in Bhopal, India was undisputedly one of the world's worst industrial disasters. Some have argued that the resulting litigation provided an "innovative model" for dealing with the global distribution of technological risk; others consider the disaster a turning point in environmental legislation; still others argue that Bhopal is what globalization looks like on the ground.
Kim Fortun explores these claims by focusing on the dynamics and paradoxes of advocacy in competing power domains. She moves from hospitals in India to meetings with lawyers, corporate executives, and environmental justice activists in the United States to show how the disaster and its effects remain with us. Spiraling outward from the victims' stories, the innovative narrative sheds light on the way advocacy works within a complex global system, calling into question conventional notions of responsibility and ethical conduct. Revealing the hopes and frustrations of advocacy, this moving work also counters the tendency to think of Bhopal as an isolated incident that "can't happen here."
Aerosol Effects on Climate
S. Gerard Jennings University of Arizona Press, 1993 Library of Congress QC882.42.A35 1993 | Dewey Decimal 551.5
There is now a growing awareness that, in addition to the well publicized influence of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases on the warming of the earth's atmosphere, aerosol particles may also play an important role in forcing climate change. This volume brings together previously unavailable data and interpretative analyses, derived from studies in both the U.S. and U.S.S.R., which review, update, and assess aerosol-related climatic effects.
A Choice Significant University Press Titles for Undergraduates, 2005–2006
This history of the African AIDS epidemic is a much-needed, accessibly written historical account of the most serious epidemiological catastrophe of modern times. The African AIDS Epidemic: A History answers President Thabo Mbeki’s provocative question as to why Africa has suffered this terrible epidemic.
While Mbeki attributed the causes to poverty and exploitation, others have looked to distinctive sexual systems practiced in African cultures and communities. John Iliffe stresses historical sequence. He argues that Africa has had the worst epidemic because the disease was established in the general population before anyone knew the disease existed. HIV evolved with extraordinary speed and complexity, and because that evolution took place under the eyes of modern medical research scientists, Iliffe has been able to write a history of the virus itself that is probably unique among accounts of human epidemic diseases. In giving the African experience a historical shape, Iliffe has written one of the most important books of our time.
The African experience of AIDS has taught the world much of what it knows about HIV/AIDS, and this fascinating book brings into focus many aspects of the epidemic in the longer context of massive demographic growth, urbanization, and social change in Africa during the latter half of the twentieth century. The African AIDS Epidemic: A History is a brilliant introduction to the many aspects of the epidemic and the distinctive character of the virus.
When did the human species turn against the planet that we depend on for survival? Human industry and consumption of resources have altered the climate, polluted the water and soil, destroyed ecosystems, and rendered many species extinct, vastly increasing the likelihood of an ecological catastrophe. How did humankind come to rule nature to such an extent? To regard the planet’s resources and creatures as ours for the taking? To find ourselves on a seemingly relentless path toward ecocide?
In After Eden, Kirkpatrick Sale answers these questions in a radically new way. Integrating research in paleontology, archaeology, and anthropology, he points to the beginning of big-game hunting as the origin of Homo sapiens’ estrangement from the natural world. Sale contends that a new, recognizably modern human culture based on the hunting of large animals developed in Africa some 70,000 years ago in response to a fierce plunge in worldwide temperature triggered by an enormous volcanic explosion in Asia. Tracing the migration of populations and the development of hunting thousands of years forward in time, he shows that hunting became increasingly adversarial in relation to the environment as people fought over scarce prey during Europe’s glacial period between 35,000 and 10,000 years ago. By the end of that era, humans’ idea that they were the superior species on the planet, free to exploit other species toward their own ends, was well established.
After Eden is a sobering tale, but not one without hope. Sale asserts that Homo erectus, the variation of the hominid species that preceded Homo sapiens and survived for nearly two million years, did not attempt to dominate the environment. He contends that vestiges of this more ecologically sound way of life exist today—in some tribal societies, in the central teachings of Hinduism and Buddhism, and in the core principles of the worldwide environmental movement—offering redemptive possibilities for ourselves and for the planet.
Against Ecological Sovereignty is a passionate defense of radical ecology that speaks directly to current debates concerning the nature, and dangers, of sovereign power. Engaging the work of Bataille, Arendt, Levinas, Nancy, and Agamben, among others, Mick Smith reconnects the political critique of sovereign power with ecological considerations, arguing that ethical and political responsibilities for the consequences of our actions do not end with those defined as human.
Against Ecological Sovereignty is the first book to turn Agamben’s analysis of sovereignty and biopolitics toward an investigation of ecological concerns. In doing so it exposes limits to that thought, maintaining that the increasingly widespread biopolitical management of human populations has an unrecognized ecological analogue—reducing nature to a “resource” for human projects. Smith contends that a radical ecological politics must resist both the depoliticizing exercise of sovereign power and the pervasive spread of biopolitics in order to reveal new possibilities for creating healthy human and nonhuman communities.
Presenting a stinging critique of human claims to sovereignty over the natural world, Smith proposes an alternative way to conceive of posthumanist ecological communities—one that recognizes the utter singularity of the beings in them.
Taking on what one former U.S. ambassador called "the last ghost of the Vietnam War," this book examines the far-reaching impact of Agent Orange, the most infamous of the dioxin-contaminated herbicides used by American forces in Southeast Asia. Edwin A. Martini's aim is not simply to reconstruct the history of the "chemical war" but to investigate the ongoing controversy over the short- and long-term effects of weaponized defoliants on the environment of Vietnam, on the civilian population, and on the troops who fought on both sides.
Beginning in the early 1960s, when Agent Orange was first deployed in Vietnam, Martini follows the story across geographical and disciplinary boundaries, looking for answers to a host of still unresolved questions. What did chemical manufacturers and American policymakers know about the effects of dioxin on human beings, and when did they know it? How much do scientists and doctors know even today? Should the use of Agent Orange be considered a form of chemical warfare? What can, and should, be done for U.S. veterans, Vietnamese victims, and others around the world who believe they have medical problems caused by Agent Orange?
Martini draws on military records, government reports, scientific research, visits to contaminated sites, and interviews to disentangle conflicting claims and evaluate often ambiguous evidence. He shows that the impact of Agent Orange has been global in its reach affecting individuals and communities in New Zealand, Australia, Korea, and Canada as well as Vietnam and the United States. Yet for all the answers it provides, this book also reveals how much uncertainty -- scientific, medical, legal, and political -- continues to surround the legacy of Agent Orange.
Agrarian Environments questions the dichotomies that have structured earlier analyses of environmental processes in India and offers a new way of looking at the relationship between agrarian transformation and environmental change. The contributors claim that attempts to explain environmental conflicts in terms of the local versus the global, indigenous versus outsiders, women versus men, or the community versus the market or state obscure vital dynamics of mobilization and organization that critically influence thought and policy. Editors Arun Agrawal and K. Sivaramakrishnan claim that rural social change in India cannot be understood without exploring how environmental changes articulate major aspects of agrarian transformations—technological, cultural, and political—in the last two centuries. In order to examine these issues, they have reached beyond the confines of single disciplinary allegiances or methodological loyalties to bring together anthropologists, historians, political scientists, geographers, and environmental scientists who are significantly informed by interdisciplinary research. Drawing on extensive field and archival research, the contributors demonstrate the powerful political implications of blurring the boundaries between dichotomous cultural representations, combine conceptual analyses with specific case studies, and look at why competing powers chose to emphasize particular representations of land use or social relations. By providing a more textured analysis of how categories emerge and change, this work offers the possibility of creating crucial alliances across populations that have historically been assumed to lack mutual goals. Agrarian Environments will be valuable to those in political science, Asian studies, and environmental studies.
Contributors. Arun Agrawal, Mark Baker, Molly Chattopadhyaya, Vinay Gidwani, Sumit Guha, Shubhra Gururani, Cecile Jackson, David Ludden, Haripriya Rangan, Paul Robbins, Vasant Saberwal, James C. Scott, K. Sivaramakrishnan, Ajay Skaria, Jennifer Springer, Darren Zook
Nitrogen is an essential element for plant growth and development and a key agricultural input-but in excess it can lead to a host of problems for human and ecological health. Across the globe, distribution of fertilizer nitrogen is very uneven, with some areas subject to nitrogen pollution and others suffering from reduced soil fertility, diminished crop production, and other consequences of inadequate supply.
Agriculture and the Nitrogen Cycle provides a global assessment of the role of nitrogen fertilizer in the nitrogen cycle. The focus of the book is regional, emphasizing the need to maintain food and fiber production while minimizing environmental impacts where fertilizer is abundant, and the need to enhance fertilizer utilization in systems where nitrogen is limited. The book is derived from a workshop held by the Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment (SCOPE) in Kampala, Uganda, that brought together the world's leading scientists to examine and discuss the nitrogen cycle and related problems. It contains an overview chapter that summarizes the group's findings, four chapters on cross-cutting issues, and thirteen background chapters.
The book offers a unique synthesis and provides an up-to-date, broad perspective on the issues of nitrogen fertilizer in food production and the interaction of nitrogen and the environment.
In Alchemy in the Rain Forest Jerry K. Jacka explores how the indigenous population of Papua New Guinea's highlands struggle to create meaningful lives in the midst of extreme social conflict and environmental degradation. Drawing on theories of political ecology, place, and ontology and using ethnographic, environmental, and historical data, Jacka presents a multilayered examination of the impacts large-scale commercial gold mining in the region has had on ecology and social relations. Despite the deadly interclan violence and widespread pollution brought on by mining, the uneven distribution of its financial benefits has led many Porgerans to call for further development. This desire for increased mining, Jacka points out, counters popular portrayals of indigenous people as innate conservationists who defend the environment from international neoliberal development. Jacka's examination of the ways Porgerans search for common ground between capitalist and indigenous ways of knowing and being points to the complexity and interconnectedness of land, indigenous knowledge, and the global economy in Porgera and beyond.
Winner of the 2005 Pfizer Prize from the History of Science Society.
What actually took place in the private laboratory of a mid-seventeenth century alchemist? How did he direct his quest after the secrets of Nature? What instruments and theoretical principles did he employ?
Using, as their guide, the previously misunderstood interactions between Robert Boyle, widely known as "the father of chemistry," and George Starkey, an alchemist and the most prominent American scientific writer before Benjamin Franklin as their guide, Newman and Principe reveal the hitherto hidden laboratory operations of a famous alchemist and argue that many of the principles and practices characteristic of modern chemistry derive from alchemy. By analyzing Starkey's extraordinary laboratory notebooks, the authors show how this American "chymist" translated the wildly figurative writings of traditional alchemy into quantitative, carefully reasoned laboratory practice—and then encoded his own work in allegorical, secretive treatises under the name of Eirenaeus Philalethes. The intriguing "mystic" Joan Baptista Van Helmont—a favorite of Starkey, Boyle, and even of Lavoisier—emerges from this study as a surprisingly central figure in seventeenth-century "chymistry." A common emphasis on quantification, material production, and analysis/synthesis, the authors argue, illustrates a continuity of goals and practices from late medieval alchemy down to and beyond the Chemical Revolution.
For anyone who wants to understand how alchemy was actually practiced during the Scientific Revolution and what it contributed to the development of modern chemistry, Alchemy Tried in the Fire will be a veritable philosopher's stone.
The world is in the midst of an ecological explosion with devastating implications. Thousands of species of microbes, plants, and animals are being introduced, both deliberately and inadvertently, to new land areas, seas, and freshwaters. In many regions, these new colonists are running wild, disrupting the dynamics of ecosystems, pushing native species toward extinction, and causing billions of dollars in direct economic damages.Alien Species in North America and Hawaii provides a comprehensive overview of the invasive species phenomenon, examining the threats posed and the damage that has already been done to ecosystems across North America and Hawaii. George W. Cox considers both the biological theory underlying invasions and the potential and actual effects on ecosystems and human activities. His book offers a framework for understanding the problem and provides a detailed examination of species and regions. Specific chapters examine: North American invaders and their threats how exotic species are dispersed to new regions how physical and biotic features influence the establishment and spread of invasives patterns of exotic invasions, with separate chapters covering each of the ten most seriously invaded regions and ecosystems patterns of invasiveness exhibited by major groups of exotics the theory of invasive capability of alien species and the resistance of communities to invasion theoretical aspects of ecosystem impacts of invaders and the evolutionary interaction of invaders and natives management and public policy issuesAlien Species in North America and Hawaii offers for the first time an assessment and synthesis of the problem of invasive species in North American and Hawaiian ecosystems. Scientists, conservation professionals, policymakers, and anyone involved with the study and control of invasive species will find the book an essential guide and reference to one of the most serious and widespread threats to global biodiversity.
"All the wild and lonely places, the mountain springs are called now. They were not lonely or wild places in the past days. They were the homes of my people." --Chief Francisco Patencio, the Cahuilla of Palm Springs The Anza-Borrego Desert on California's southern border is a remote and harsh landscape, what author Lawrence Hogue calls "a land of dreams and nightmares, where the waking world meets the fantastic shapes and bent forms of imagination." In a country so sere and rugged, it's easy to imagine that no one has ever set foot there -- a wilderness waiting to be explored. Yet for thousands of years, the land was home to the Cahuilla and Kumeyaay Indians, who, far from being the "noble savages" of European imagination, served as active caretakers of the land that sustained them, changing it in countless ways and adapting it to their own needs as they adapted to it.In All the Wild and Lonely Places, Lawrence Hogue offers a thoughtful and evocative portrait of Anza-Borrego and of the people who have lived there, both original inhabitants and Spanish and American newcomers -- soldiers, Forty-Niners, cowboys, canal-builders, naturalists, recreationists, and restorationists. We follow along with the author on a series of excursions into the desert, each time learning more about the region's history and why it calls into question deeply held beliefs about "untouched" nature. And we join him in considering the implications of those revelations for how we think about the land that surrounds us, and how we use and care for that land."We could persist in seeing the desert as an emptiness, a place hostile to humans, a pristine wilderness," Hogue writes. "But it's better to see this as a place where ancient peoples tried to make their homes, and succeeded. We can learn from what they did here, and use that knowledge to reinvigorate our concept of wildness. Humans are part of nature; it's still nature, even when we change it."
The year 2005 marked the centennial of the founding of the United States Forest Service (USFS). Samuel P. Hays uses this occasion to present a cogent history of the role of American society in shaping the policies and actions of this agency.
From its establishment in 1905 under the auspices of the Department of Agriculture, timber and grazing management dominated the agency's agenda. Due to high consumer demand for wood products and meat from livestock, the USFS built a formidable system of forest managers, training procedures, and tree science programs to specifically address these needs. This strong internal organization bolstered the agency during the tumultuous years in the final one-third of the century—when citizens and scientists were openly critical of USFS policies—yet it restricted the agency's vision and adaptability on environmental issues. A dearth of ecological capabilities tormented the USFS in 1960 when the Multiple-Use and Sustained-Yield Act set new statutes for the preservation of wildlife, recreation, watershed, and aesthetic resources. This was followed by the National Forest Management Act of 1976, which established standards for the oversight of forest ecosystems. The USFS was ill equipped to handle the myriad administrative and technological complexities that these mandates required.
In The American People and the National Forests, Hays chronicles three distinct periods in USFS history, provides a summarizing “legacy” for each, and outlines the public and private interests, administrators, and laws that guided the agency's course and set its priorities. He demonstrates how these legacies affected successive eras, how they continue to influence USFS policy in the twenty-first century, and why USFS policies should matter to all of us.
“A compelling, even moving, portrait of the national landscape—its past, its meaning, its urgent need of rescue.”
—James Carroll, author of House of War and An American Requiem, winner of the National Book Award
“Anne Mackin has taken a fresh and provocative look at that most fascinating of relationships: the one between the American people and the American land.”
—Michael Pollan, Knight Professor of Journalism and Director of the Knight Program in Science and Environmental Journalism at University of California Berkeley, contributing writer to the New York Times Magazine, and author of The Omnivore's Dilemma and The Botany of Desire
“Anne Mackin has given us a valuable and less-used lens to view the development of our neighborhoods, towns and cities: the land itself. Our relationship to the earth beneath our feet—how we dig it, buy it, sell it, zone it, pave it, spoil it or pamper it—helps explain what is produced on top of the land in our nation, from farms to homes to skyscrapers. All in all, Mackin takes us on a novel and erudite journey, from one coast to the other, and from Colonial times to the present. This valuable book marks a significant and lasting contribution to the way we see and understand our landscape and ourselves.”
—Alex Marshall, author of How Cities Work: Suburbs, Sprawl, and the Roads Not Taken
“To really understand the origins of the range war now raging between smart growth and property rights advocates over the future of the American land, you need to read this exceptional book.”
—Robert D. Yaro, President Regional Plan Association and Professor in Practice, University of Pennsylvania
Thomas Malthus once said, “The happiness of the Americans depended much less upon their peculiar degree of civilization than . . . upon their having a great plenty of fertile uncultivated land.”
Malthus knew. Lord MacCaulay knew. Albert Gallatin knew. America and its people would change as a growing population whittled away the supply of land.
Nothing has shaped the American character like the abundance of land that met the colonist, the pioneer, and the early suburbanite. With today’s political and economic institutions shaped by the largesse of yesteryear, how will Americans fare in the new landscape of water wars, expensive housing, rising fuel prices, environmental and property rights battles, and powerful industrial lobbies?
Why is land the key to American democracy? How can we protect our democracy as more people and industries compete more intensively for our remaining resources? Americans and Their Land begins an important, overdue discussion of these questions. Anne Mackin takes the reader story by story from frontier history to the present and shows how land shaped the American political landscape. She shows how our evolving traditions of apportioning resources have allowed diminished supplies to create our present, increasingly unequal society, and she asks how 300 million Americans living in the new American landscape of growing competition can better share those resources.
Craig Waddell presents essays investigating Rachel Carson’ s influential 1962 book, Silent Spring. In his foreword, Paul Brooks, Carson’ s editor at Houghton Mifflin, describes the process that resulted in Silent Spring. In an afterword, Linda Lear, Carson’ s recent biographer, recalls the end of Carson’ s life and outlines the attention that Carson’ s book and Carson herself received from scholars and biographers, attention that focused so minutely on her life that it detracted from a focus on her work. The foreword by Brooks and the afterword by Lear frame this exploration within the context of Carson’ s life and work.
Contributors are Edward P. J. Corbett, Carol B, Gartner, Cheryll Glotfelty, Randy Harris, M. Jimmie Killingsworth, Linda Lear, Ralph H. Lutts, Christine Oravec, Jacqueline S. Palmer, Markus J. Peterson, Tarla Rai Peterson, and Craig Waddell. Together, these essays explore Silent Spring’ s effectiveness in conveying its disturbing message and the rhetorical strategies that helped create its wide influence.
After a decades-long economic slump, the city of Flint, Michigan, struggled to address chronic issues of toxic water supply, malnutrition, and food security gaps among its residents. A community-engaged research project proposed a resilience assessment that would use panarchy theory to move the city toward a more sustainable food system. Flint is one of many examples that demonstrate how panarchy theory is being applied to understand and influence change in complex human-natural systems. Applied Panarchy, the much-anticipated successor to Lance Gunderson and C.S. Holling’s seminal 2002 volume Panarchy, documents the extraordinary advances in interdisciplinary panarchy scholarship and applications over the past two decades. Panarchy theory has been applied to a broad range of fields from economics to law to urban planning, changing the practice of environmental stewardship for the better in measurable, tangible ways.
Panarchy describes the way systems—whether forests, electrical grids, agriculture, coastal surges, public health, or human economies and governance—are part of even larger systems that interact in unpredictable ways. Although humans desire resiliency and stability in our lives to help us understand the world and survive, nothing in nature is permanently stable. How can society anticipate and adjust to the changes we see around us? Where Panarchy proposed a framework to understand how these transformational cycles work and how we might influence them, Applied Panarchy takes the scholarship to the next level, demonstrating how these concepts have been modified and refined. The book shows how panarchy theory intersects with other disciplines, and how it directly influences natural resources management and environmental stewardship.
Intended as a text for graduate courses in environmental sciences and related fields, Applied Panarchy picks up where Panarchy left off, inspiring new generations of scholars, researchers, and professionals to put its ideas to work in practical ways.
Arid Lands in Perspective
Edited by William G. McGinnies and Bram J. Goldman University of Arizona Press, 1969 Library of Congress S613.A7 | Dewey Decimal 630.9154
These articles represent the combined efforts of many people with varied orientations to summarize aspects of current research and knowledge relevant for the multitudes attempting to inhabit Earth’s warm arid areas, known for their imbalance of natural resources.
William A. Dick-Peddie
Carl N. Hodges
Richard F. Logan
Roy E. Cameron
Clifford S. Christian
Klaus W. Flach
Ronald L. Heathcote
Douglas H. K. Lee
Lawrence K. Lustig
William G. McGinnies
James T. Neal
Daniel A. Okun
Harland I. Padfield
Rayden A. Perry
Roald A. Peterson
Robert L. Raikes
Courtland L. Smith
Guy D. Smith
John C. York
David M. Hendricks University of Arizona Press, 1985 Library of Congress S599.A7H46 1985 | Dewey Decimal 631.49791
This extensively illustrated volume is a definitive sourcebook on the utilization of arid lands. It offers a wealth of current knowledge about the nature and distributiion of the soils of Arizona and their relation to the diversity of geology, climate, vegetation, and fauna of the state.
Prepared for the 2013 National Climate Assessment and a landmark study in terms of its breadth and depth of coverage, this report blends the contributions of 120 experts in climate science, economics, ecology, engineering, geography, hydrology, planning, resources management, and other disciplines to provide the most comprehensive, and understandable, analysis to date about climate and its effects on the people and landscapes of Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah—including the U.S.-Mexico border region and the lands of Native Nations.
What is the climate of the Southwest like today? What has it been like in the past, and how is it projected to change over the 21st century? How will that affect water resources, ecosystems, agricultural production, energy supply and delivery, transportation, human health, and a host of other areas? How vulnerable is the region to climate change? What else do we need to know about it, and how can we limit its adverse effects?
In addressing these and other questions, the book offers decision makers and stakeholders a substantial basis from which to make informed choices that will affect the well-being of the region’s inhabitants in the decades to come.
In Atmospheric Things Derek P. McCormack explores how atmospheres are imagined, understood, and experienced through experiments with a deceptively simple object: the balloon. Since the invention of balloon flight in the late eighteenth century, balloons have drawn crowds at fairs and expositions, inspired the visions of artists and writers, and driven technological development from meteorology to military surveillance. By foregrounding the distinctive properties of the balloon, McCormack reveals its remarkable capacity to disclose the affective and meteorological dimensions of atmospheres. Drawing together different senses of the object, the elements, and experience, McCormack uses the balloon to show how practices and technologies of envelopment allow atmospheres to be generated, made meaningful, and modified. He traces the alluring entanglement of envelopment in artistic, political, and technological projects, from the 2009 Pixar movie Up and Andy Warhol’s 1966 installation Silver Clouds to the use of propaganda balloons during the Cold War and Google's experiments with delivering internet access with stratospheric balloons. In so doing, McCormack offers new ways to conceive of, sense, and value the atmospheres in which life is immersed.
Since the Enlightenment, alchemy has been viewed as a sort of antiscience, disparaged by many historians as a form of lunacy that impeded the development of rational chemistry. But in Atoms and Alchemy, William R. Newman—a historian widely credited for reviving recent interest in alchemy—exposes the speciousness of these views and challenges widely held beliefs about the origins of the Scientific Revolution.
Tracing the alchemical roots of Robert Boyle’s famous mechanical philosophy, Newman shows that alchemy contributed to the mechanization of nature, a movement that lay at the very heart of scientific discovery. Boyle and his predecessors—figures like the mysterious medieval Geber or the Lutheran professor Daniel Sennert—provided convincing experimental proof that matter is made up of enduring particles at the microlevel. At the same time, Newman argues that alchemists created the operational criterion of an “atomic” element as the last point of analysis, thereby contributing a key feature to the development of later chemistry. Atomsand Alchemy thus provokes a refreshing debate about the origins of modern science and will be welcomed—and deliberated—by all who are interested in the development of scientific theory and practice.