1st Edition

Environmental Transformations A Geography of the Anthropocene

By Mark Whitehead Copyright 2014
    190 Pages 58 Color Illustrations
    by Routledge

    190 Pages 58 Color Illustrations
    by Routledge

    From the depths of the oceans to the highest reaches of the atmosphere, the human impact on the environment is significant and undeniable. These forms of global and local environmental change collectively appear to signal the arrival of a new geological epoch: the Anthropocene. This is a geological era defined not by natural environmental fluctuations or meteorite impacts, but by collective actions of humanity.

    Environmental Transformations offers a concise and accessible introduction to the human practices and systems that sustain the Anthropocene. It combines accounts of the carbon cycle, global heat balances, entropy, hydrology, forest ecology and pedology, with theories of demography, war, industrial capitalism, urban development, state theory and behavioural psychology. This book charts the particular role of geography and geographers in studying environmental change and its human drivers. It provides a review of critical theories that can help to uncover the socio-economic and political factors that influence environmental change. It also explores key issues in contemporary environmental studies, such as resource use, water scarcity, climate change, industrial pollution and deforestation. These issues are ‘mapped’ through a series of geographical case studies to illustrate the particular value of geographical notions of space, place and scale, in uncovering the complex nature of environmental change in different socio-economic, political and cultural contexts. Finally, the book considers the different ways in which nations, communities and individuals around the world are adapting to environmental change in the twenty-first century.

    Particular attention is given throughout to the uneven geographical opportunities that different communities have to adapt to environmental change and to the questions of social justice this situation raises. This book encourages students to engage in the scientific uncertainties that surround the study of environmental change, while also discussing both pessimistic and more optimistic views on the ability of humanity to address the environmental challenges of our current era.

    Chapter 1: Introduction – Geography in the Anthropocene  Section 1: Environmental Transformations  Chapter 2: Resources – Oil and Water  Chapter 3: Air – Science and the Atmosphere  Chapter 4: Soil – The Political Ecology of Soil Degradation  Chapter 5: Forests – Jungle Capitalism and the Corporate Environment  Chapter 6: Cities – Sprawl and the Urban Planet  Section 2: Living in the Anthropocene  Chapter 7: Governing the Environment  Chapter 8: Greening the Brain: Understanding and Changing Human Behaviour  Chapter 9: Conclusions: Misanthropy, Adaptation and Safe Operating Spaces


    Mark Whitehead is a professor of human geography at Aberystwyth University. His research interests include the politics of sustainable development, urban geography and environmental citizenship. He is the author of several books including Spaces of Sustainability: geographical perspectives on the sustainable society (Routledge, 2006) and State Science and the Skies: governmentalities of the British atmosphere (Wiley-Blackwell, 2009). He is the Managing Editor of the journal Environmental Values.

    "Environmental transformations can be provocative and thought provoking. It adds layers of depth to our understanding of human-environment relationships. This text is a highly recommended addition to the senior Australian Curriculum or International Baccalaureate Geography classroom."Geographical Education, Julie Hearnden, Good Shepherd Lutheran College