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Principles of Environmental Sciences


Author: Jan J. Boersema and Lucas Reijnders

Publisher: Springer


Publish Date: December 3, 2008

ISBN-10: 1402091575

Pages: 542

File Type: PDF

Language: English

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Book Preface

Why this book?

This academic textbook is meant to be complementary to the many existing textbooks on environmental science. It distinguishes itself for two main reasons:

• Environmental problems, the object of the environmental sciences, are seen and described as resulting from observed phenomena in our natural environment on one hand, and the societal awareness and evaluation of these phenomena on the other. A combination of the two causes a phenomenon to be considered ‘an environmental problem’. Therefore, students must learn that right from the beginning there is a cultural and historical dimension when it comes to defi ning and analysing environmental problems. That is why we pay attention to environmental history and to the variations in both perception and the implementation of solutions. In more philosophical terms: this book tries to avoid the ‘Scylla of positivism’ (as natural scientists, we know what the problems are) and the ‘Charybdis of constructivism’ (problems only exist if we see them as problems).

• This book provides a comprehensive picture of the various principles, concepts, and methods applicable to environmental problems, and relates these methods to underlying guiding principles and the adjacent policy measures. The focus is on multi- and interdisciplinary methods, although most of the methods originate from a specifi c discipline and many have a limited domain. Wherever possible, examples of application of a method in practice are given, as well as evaluations in terms of gains of a particular method over other methods. This focus on methodology distinguishes this book from other textbooks. To give just two examples: The LCA-approach (Life Cycle Analysis/Assessment) is given only a few lines in most basic textbooks, although this methodology has become widely and offi cially accepted by professionals and scientists (as an ISO-standard). Modelling is not explicitly dealt with in most textbooks either, although many different kinds of models are common practice in environmental studies.

Throughout this book the term sciences is meant to include the social sciences and even disciplines of the humanities.


The aim of this academic textbook is threefold:
• To describe environmental problems in their historical context
• To delineate how complex environmental problems can be analysed and tackled by using various (inter)disciplinary concepts, methods and tools and
• To illustrate how solutions work out in their social context

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