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Making Sense of Nature

Those working in large institutions that supply television, radio and internet content, like Britain's BBC or Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, are among the most powerful epistemic communitieis in the world. In part, thyeir modus perandi is to assemble, interpret and reframe the representations of others. In part, their role is to produce their own distinctive genres of representation, such as wildlife documentaries. Without the mass media we'd not only be less well informed (and less entertained) but, arguably, different people.

Environmental myth. A set of beliefs about environmental change in a particular place or region that lack strong evidential base and yet which are widely held... Environmental myths typically arise when small amounts of evidence are used to make generalizations, as if it's reasonable to infer from a few local cases to the wider regional or national scale.

Making Sense of Nature

by Noel Castree
Routledge, 2013

Composed by a self-described "epistemic worker" - a person employed to spread information, knowledge, arguments and even enlightenment to the greater majority of people who lack the critical skills necessary to evaluate his claims - this book explores how "nature" is being defined for us and how we can go about making sense of nature for ourselves.

"The way nature is made sense of for us becomes a vehicle of weakly, even anti-, democratic rule," Noel Castree explains. "This is especially true in circumstances where most people, spending large periods at work, engaged in domestic matters and so on, have neither the time nor inclination to engage meaningfully with their semiosphere."

Drawing from numerous case studies and examples from daily life, Castree's work describes not what nature is, but "what it's considered to be," especially by those who claim to speak for nature and who make significant reference to it in what they do. He goes on to explore the effects of these claims in public policy, resource utilization, land use, consumer behavior, and personal ideologies.

Fall's Leaves by Stanislav Sidorov
Fall's Leaves by Stanislav Sidorov 

The Nature Within

"The idea that nature is fast disappearing has given it a new saliency in public discourse and in the pronouncements of politicians, business and civil society organisations... According to many commentators, modern capitalisr societies are 'ecocidal':  they're engaged in nothing less than an arms race against the living Earth.

"Others argue that this sort of environmentalist rhetoric is misplaced: if we want to free millions of people from grinding poverty and ensure a good standard of living for all then, it is suggsted, we necessarily have to bend large parts of the non-human world to our will.

"'Human nature,' in the biological sense of that term, is now arguably just as much a focus of public interest as things like endangered species, melting ice sheets or organic food... Representations of human genes are, I argue, an important medium through which a re-naturalisation of human self-understanding could be taking place..."
~ Noel Castree

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Henry David Thoreau
Henry David Thoreau

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Nature (Key Ideas in Geography)

(Key Ideas in Geography)