Sunday, January 15, 2006

Palgrave Environmental Reader

Few days ago I mentioned the books on my monkey shelf. Well, it just so happened that I borrowed this book Palgrave Environmental Reader out of pure... boredom and good intentions (like making myself be hardworking and enrich myself beyond the classroom).

Then on Thursday during Savage's lecture, he was going on and on about how university students dont read original texts of landmark literature anymore, like Garrett Hardin's Tragedy of the Commons.

Of course I've heard of Tragedy of the Commons. In fact, Hardin was a professor at UCSB for 30 years. I've used the concept many times. Still, Savage was right. I never actually read the original article. He also recommended reading Glacken's Traces on the Rhodian Shore which I must say I was fortunate enough to have even heard of Glacken by the pure coincidence that my nature, science and religion class had a reading list of very well known works. Now thinking back, both Savage and Proctor both did their PhD in UC Berkeley. That's probably why they are all harping on Glacken. Apparently Glacken was Savage's PhD supervisor. Gosh!

Just on a slight digress, after Savage's class, I can almost totally understand now (if I can actually remember my then-epiphany) why Proctor is considered a geographer since his preoccupation is mainly with nature science and religion. Something along the line of every religion has a perspective of the space/environment that will have subsequent impact on it. Well that pretty much sums up Proctor's lecture which I got an A+ for but suddenly... my aging memory with dozens of competitive uses threatening to blind me has caused me to have a sudden mental blackout. Bah.

Back to Palgrave.

Well, so yesterday I decided to be hardworking and was happily flipping the book and guess what I saw?

Garrett Hardin's original text of Tragedy of the Commons published December 13, 1968 in the journal Science, Vol 162, No 3859.

So I spent the whole of yesterday and a bit of today reading it and I've decided to reproduce sections on the blog every other day. It's a really good read and it's easy to digest. I want to ingrain it in my memory.

There are also other interesting and landmark articles on the environment such as Pinchot (the father of the US Forest and Wildlife Services), John Muir (the father of the alternative movement of FWS, the US National Parks Services - though Muir started out working for Pinchot), Rachel Carson (the person who wrote Silent Springs and shed light on DDT and agent orange), EO Wilson, and to go back a few centuries, Palgrave also included Emerson and Thoreau. The best part is, they also include famous legal acts and bills such as the actual text of the Wilderness Act and the Kyoto Protocol.

I'm sad to say though that this book focuses only on the US environmental growth, change and evolution over the last 3 centuries. It's not altogether comprehensive but it is a start.

As the editors, Daniel Payne and Richard Newman, writes:

The US has gone from "first generation environmental reform concerned primarily with land use issues such as resource conservation, wilderness preservation and the establishment of national parks and monuments" to "second-generation environmental issues, such as nuclear war, disposal of nuclear wastes, chemical contamination, global warming, biodiversity and so on, [that] have superceded land use politices as the primary focus of many environmentalists".
Reading that, I wonder where Singapore is - First generation or Second generation? On one hand, we have on surface levels, dealt really well with second generation issues which are mainly a focus on brown and gray issues but we have failed miserably and has never passed the test of solving first generation issues while the US has at least tackled it. Singapore is like a kid who failed primary school but jumped on to secondary school and found that it does well and try to present to the world the appearance of an environmental hub of asia by its clean and green branding. However, that will not stop people from criticizing that it has failed miserably at its primary level - that of pure and simple biodiversity conservation.

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