An Artforum Best Book of the YearA Legal Theory Bookworm Book of the YearNature no longer exists apart from humanity. Henceforth, the world we will inhabit is the one we have made. Geologists have called this new planetary epoch the Anthropocene, the Age of Humans. The geological strata we are now creating record industrial emissions, industrial-scale crop pollens, and the disappearance of species driven to extinction. Climate change is planetary engineering without design. These facts of the Anthropocene are scientific, but its shape and meaning are questions for politics—a politics that does not yet exist. After Nature develops a politics for this post-natural world.“After Nature argues that we will deserve the future only because it will be the one we made. We will live, or die, by our mistakes.”—Christine Smallwood, Harper’s“Dazzling…Purdy hopes that climate change might spur yet another change in how we think about the natural world, but he insists that such a shift will be inescapably political… For a relatively slim volume, this book distills an incredible amount of scholarship—about Americans’ changing attitudes toward the natural world, and about how those attitudes might change in the future.”—Ross Andersen, The Atlantic
In Ailing in Place, Michele Morrone explores the relationship between environmental conditions in Appalachia and health outcomes that are too often ascribed to individual choices only. She applies quantitative data to observations from environmental health professionals to frame the ways in which the environment, as a social determinant of health, leads to health disparities in Appalachian communities. These examples—these stories of place—trace the impacts of water quality, waste disposal, and natural resource extraction on the health and quality of life of Appalachian people.
Public health is inextricably linked to place. Environmental conditions such as contaminated water, unsafe food, and polluted air are as important as culture, community, and landscape in characterizing a place and determining the health outcomes of the people who live there. In some places, the state of the environment is a consequence of historical activities related to natural resources and cultural practices. In others, political decisions to achieve short-term economic objectives are made with little consideration of long-term public health consequences.
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