Can “Living Green” Make a Difference?

Michael Maniates
Polity Press, late-2020 (expected)

It’s another hottest year on record. Fresh water aquifers run dry while fisheries flirt with collapse.  Miles-long cracks snake across the Antarctica ice sheet while the pace of extinctions, ocean acidification, and soil erosion accelerates.  As alarm grows about our expanding environmental footprint, we’re increasingly being asked to do our part to make a difference, to slow the damage, and perhaps even to reverse the tide.  The good news, from public opinion polls and swelling support of environmental organizations, is that more of us than ever before are willing to roll up our sleeves and get to work.  Who, after all, wakes up in the morning happy with being complicit in global ecological ruin?  When it comes to the planet’s health, we yearn to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

But what are these solutions, exactly?  How, according to political elites, corporations, and even environmental groups, do we best act on our hunger to “help save the planet?”  Despite the . . . (go here for more)

Global Socio-Economic Perspectivesglobalsocioeconomicperspectives_cover

Terrance Bensel, Lisa Dale, and Michael Maniates (co-authors listed in alphabetical order)
Bridgepoint Education/Kendall Hunt Publishing, 2012

Global Socio-Economic Perspectives, specifically conceived and executed as an e-book with an array of online resources and simulations, examines historical forces behind current social, political, economic, and environmental conditions, and seeks solutions for achieving a just and sustainable world. Focus on issues of globalization, economic and social justice, and sustainability contextualizes opportunities and challenges presented by globalization, as well as winners and losers in different regions.  Go here for the opening paragraphs.

VitalSource  ¦¦  Amazon  ¦¦

sacrificeThe Environmental Politics of Sacrifice

Michael Maniates and John M. Meyer, editors
MIT Press, 2010

The idea of sacrifice is the unspoken issue of environmental politics. Politicians, the media, and many environmentalists assume that well-off populations won’t make sacrifices now for future environmental benefits and won’t change their patterns and perceptions of consumption to make ecological room for the world’s three billion or so poor eager to improve their standard of living. The Environmental Politics of Sacrifice challenges these assumptions, arguing that they limit our policy options, weaken our ability to imagine bold action for change, and blind us to the ways sacrifice already figures in everyday life.

The concept of sacrifice has been curiously unexamined in both activist and academic conversations about environmental politics, and this book is the first to confront it directly. The chapters bring a variety of disciplinary perspectives to the topic. Contributors offer alternatives to the conventional wisdom on sacrifice; identify connections between sacrifice and human fulfillment in everyday life, finding such concrete examples as parents’ sacrifices in raising children, religious practice, artists’ pursuit of their art, and soldiers and policemen who risk their lives to do their jobs; and examine particular policies and practices that shape our understanding of environmental problems, including the carbon tax, incentives for cyclists, and the perils of green consumption. The Environmental Politics of Sacrifice puts “sacrifice” firmly into the conversation about effective environmental politics and policies, insisting that activists and scholars do more than change the subject when the idea is introduced.

Contributors: Peter Cannavò, Shane Gunster, Cheryl Hall, Karen Litfin, Michael Maniates, John M. Meyer, Simon Nicholson, Anna Peterson, Thomas Princen, Sudhir Chella Rajan, Paul Wapner, Justin Williams

MIT Press  ¦¦  Amazon  ¦¦  Book Depository  ¦¦  Powells  ¦¦

encounteringEncountering Global Environmental Politics

Michael Maniates, editor
Rowman & Littlefield, 2003

Recognizing that many undergraduate courses on global environmental ills, though well intentioned, erode students’ sense of the possible, this collection of essays (all by teacher-scholars in the field) draws students and teachers of global environmental politics into classroom conversation about the overwhelming nature of global environmental threats, the tenuous and sometimes counterproductive links between knowledge and power, and ways of acting powerfully in the world in service of ‘sustainability.’

Foreword by Frances Moore Lappé

Contributors: Matthew Auer, William Ayers, Ken Conca, Geoffrey Dabelko, Barbara Welling Hall, Monty Hempel, Michael Maniates, Richard Matthew, Tom Princen, Nancy Quirk, Karl Steyaert, Peter Taylor, Paul Wapner, and Howard Warshawsky

Amazon  ¦¦  AbeBooks  ¦¦ Google Preview

Confronting Consumptionconfrontingconsumption

Thomas Princen, Michael Maniates, and Ken Conca, editors
MIT Press, 2002

Comforting terms such as “sustainable development” and “green production” frame environmental debate by stressing technology (not green enough), economic growth (not enough in the right places), and population (too large). Concern about consumption emerges, if at all, in benign ways; as calls for green purchasing or more recycling, or for small changes in production processes. Many academics, policymakers, and journalists, in fact, accept the economists’ view of consumption as nothing less than the purpose of the economy. Yet many people have a troubled, intuitive understanding that tinkering at the margins of production and purchasing will not put society on an ecologically and socially sustainable path.

Confronting Consumption places consumption at the center of debate by conceptualizing “the consumption problem” and documenting diverse efforts to confront it. In Part 1, the book frames consumption as a problem of political and ecological economy, emphasizing core concepts of individualization and commoditization. Part 2 develops the idea of distancing and examines transnational chains of consumption in the context of economic globalization. Part 3 describes citizen action through local currencies, home power, voluntary simplicity, “ad-busting,” and product certification. Together, the chapters propose “cautious consuming” and “better producing” as an activist and policy response to environmental problems. The book concludes that confronting consumption must become a driving focus of contemporary environmental scholarship and activism.

MIT Press  ¦¦  Amazon  ¦¦  Book Depository  ¦¦  Powells  ¦¦