6 Pages

Introduction: the environment and social theory

The newness of environmental concerns is more apparent than real in that thinking about the environment, its meaning, significance and value is as old as human society itself. However, it is clear that the present human generation is faced with a series of unique environmental dilemmas, largely unprecedented in human history. The present human generation is the first one, for example, to have the capacity to destroy the planet many times over, while at the same time it is also the first generation for whom the natural environment cannot be taken for granted. So while the environment has been a perennial theme in human thought, the environment and how humans value, use and think about it has become an increasingly central and important aspect of recent social theory and political practice.