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Never before in history have humans had such power over the environment as we have today, and never before have we been so close to the end of nature. With the destruction of the earth a realistic possibility, global change is the point on which theoretical discussions and practical challenges must converge.
The authors of this compelling book argue that before suitable solutions can be found to pressing environmental problems, we need a way to gather information on the human dimensions of global changes. How do small and everyday individual actions add up to the intricate networks of global interactions? What are our rights and responsibilities as humans toward the planet and its natural resources?
The Lacandon rain forest in Mexico provides a vivid example of an environmental challenge that will demand the concerted efforts of many different groups, and not only technical solutions, to resolve successfully. Using data taken largely from in-depth interviews with landowners, farm workers, cattle raisers, housewives, professionals, and civil servants, the authors draw a rich portrait of the varied perceptions and positions these groups and individuals hold. At issue are the social, rather than psychological, bases of their perspectives.
Culture and Global Change offers a model for how the social sciences, and anthropology in particular, can lead the way in developing comprehensive understandings of the interrelationships between groups at the local, regional, and international levels that affect perceptions of the environment and thus the viability of solutions. It is required reading for anthropologists and environmental activists alike.