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Distributed for UCL Press

Obstacles to Environmental Progress

A US Perspective

A comprehensive guide to the impediments facing environmentally progressive agendas.

Despite the comprehensively understood severity of environmental problems faced today, progress in the United States is continually stymied, making sustainability feel like a far-off goal. Obstacles to Environmental Progress takes up the structural, political, and cultural forces that routinely hinder progress on existing environmental issues. Addressing problems both small and large, often regardless of whether an issue is controversial, this book illustrates obstacles that manifest in the United States but are globally pertinent. Peter Schulze identifies eighteen practical obstacles that fall into three categories: scientific challenges to anticipating and detecting problems; political and economic factors that interfere with responding; and obstacles to effective responses. This book seeks to hasten environmental progress by bridging academic disciplines to forewarn and forearm those who might otherwise encounter these anti-environmentalist obstacles in an ad-hoc manner.

376 pages | 36 color plates | 6.14 x 9.21 | © 2022

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Table of Contents

List of figures
List of tables
List of abbreviations

1 Introduction

PART I Obstacles to detecting and understanding environmental problems

2 No one on watch

3 Detection challenges

4 Limits on experiments

5 Probabilistic reasoning

6 Inference and extrapolation

7 Scientific errors

PART II Obstacles to responding to environmental problems

8 Exaggerated impressions of scientific uncertainty

9 One-sided perspectives on liberty

10 Market freedom

11 Paying for protection

12 Perceived lack of urgency

13 Flawed democracy

14 An endless uphill battle

PART III Obstacles to effective responses

15 Devising effective responses

16 Compromises that doom responses

17 Mismatched or overlapping authority

18 Breakdown in policy implementation

19 Conflicts with other societal objectives

20 Recapitulation, reasons for optimism, and recommendations

Appendix: the six anti-environmental biases of cost-benefit analysis


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