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  • Book
  • © 2017

Environmental Realism

Challenging Solutions

Palgrave Macmillan
  • Offers an accessible cultural history of “solutions-based environmental thinking”

  • Analyzes discourse used in environmental debates and ways in which societies frame these issues over time

  • Takes an interdisciplinary view to question solutions-based approaches to complex, persistent “wicked” environmental problems

Table of contents (5 chapters)

  1. Front Matter

    Pages i-ix
  2. Why Challenge Solutions?

    • Kristan Cockerill, Melanie Armstrong, Jennifer Richter, Jordan G. Okie
    Pages 1-25
  3. River Management and Restoration: Addressing Yesterday’s Solutions

    • Kristan Cockerill, Melanie Armstrong, Jennifer Richter, Jordan G. Okie
    Pages 27-44
  4. The Human Nature of Infectious Disease

    • Kristan Cockerill, Melanie Armstrong, Jennifer Richter, Jordan G. Okie
    Pages 45-65
  5. The Unpredictable Materiality of Radioactive Waste

    • Kristan Cockerill, Melanie Armstrong, Jennifer Richter, Jordan G. Okie
    Pages 67-87
  6. Integrating Science and Society for Environmental Realism

    • Kristan Cockerill, Melanie Armstrong, Jennifer Richter, Jordan G. Okie
    Pages 89-122
  7. Back Matter

    Pages 123-147

About this book

This interdisciplinary book challenges current approaches to “environmental problems” that perpetuate flawed but deeply embedded cultural beliefs about the role of science and technology in society. The authors elucidate and interrogate a cultural history of solutionism that typifies expectations that science can, should, and will reduce risk to people and property by containing and controlling biophysical phenomena. Using historical analysis, eco-evolutionary principles, and case studies on floods, radioactive waste, and epidemics, the authors show that perceived solutions to “environmental problems” generate new problems, leading to problem-solution cycles of increasing scope and complexity. The authors encourage readers to challenge the ideology of solutionism by considering the potential of language, social action and new paradigms of sustainability to shape management systems. This book will appeal to scholars in multi- and interdisciplinary fields such as Environment Studies, Environmental Science, Environmental Policy, and Science, Technology, and Society Studies.

Authors and Affiliations

  • Appalachian State University, Boone, USA

    Kristan Cockerill

  • Western State Colorado University, Gunnison, USA

    Melanie Armstrong

  • Arizona State University, Tempe, USA

    Jennifer Richter, Jordan G. Okie

About the authors

Kristan Cockerill is an Associate Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies, Appalachian State University, USA.


Melanie Armstrong is an Assistant Professor in the Master in Environmental Management Program, Department of Environment and Sustainability, Western State Colorado University, USA.


Jennifer Richter is an Assistant Professor in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society and the School of Social Transformation, Arizona State University, USA.


Jordan G. Okie is an Assistant Research Professor at the School for Earth and Space Exploration, Arizona State University, USA.

Bibliographic Information

  • Book Title: Environmental Realism

  • Book Subtitle: Challenging Solutions

  • Authors: Kristan Cockerill, Melanie Armstrong, Jennifer Richter, Jordan G. Okie

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-52824-3

  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan Cham

  • eBook Packages: Social Sciences, Social Sciences (R0)

  • Copyright Information: The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2017

  • License: CC BY

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-3-319-52823-6Published: 10 April 2017

  • Softcover ISBN: 978-3-319-84995-9Published: 21 July 2018

  • eBook ISBN: 978-3-319-52824-3Published: 29 March 2017

  • Edition Number: 1

  • Number of Pages: IX, 147

  • Number of Illustrations: 1 b/w illustrations

  • Topics: Environmental Sociology, Environmental Policy, Environmental Politics, Sustainable Development, Natural Resources