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So you think you know what makes the world go round? Read about the ideas that revolutionized the 20th century.
The twentieth century was a period of seismic change on a global scale, witnessing two world wars, the rise and fall of communism, the establishment of a global economy, the beginnings of global warming and a complete reversal in the status of women in large parts of the world.
Many of these changes were brought about thanks to powerful ideologies: big ideas that irrevocably altered the way humans viewed their world. Short Histories of Big Ideas are brief, easy to understand introductions to the ideologies that shaped the twentieth century. Each volume explains the key aspects of an idea and provides a concise history of its growth and influence on our world perspective.
Why are our environmental problems still growing despite a huge increase in global conservation efforts?
Peterson del Mar untangles this paradox by showing how prosperity is essential to environmentalism. Industrialization drove people to look for meaning in nature even as they consumed its products more relentlessly. Hence England led the way in both manufacturing and preserving its countryside, and the United States created a matchless set of national parks as it became the world's pre-eminent economic and military power.
Environmental movements have produced some impressive results, including cleaner air and the preservation of selected species and places. But agendas that challenged western prosperity and comfort seldom made much progress, and many radical environmentalists have been unabashed utopianists. Environmentalism considers a wide range of conservation and preservation movements and less organized forms of nature loving (from seaside vacations to ecotourism) to argue that these activities have commonly distracted us from the hard work of creating a sustainable and sensible relationship with the environment.
About the author
David Peterson del Mar grew up in a very rural area as the son of a commercial fisherman and worked as a labourer for a sawmill. Over the past twelve years he has taught environmental history in Canada and the United States and has published four books on social history, including the award winning What Trouble I Have Seen: A History of Violence against Wives (1996).