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Approaches To Environmental Change

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Chapter Summary

The causes and consequences of environmental change have been hotly debated by academics, policy makers and the public at large. The most commonly used models analyze environmental change by highlighting one or more causative agents, including the so-called 'population bomb'; factors ascribed to colonialism and imperialist power struggles such as conservation policies and political ecology; ecological exchanges; economic globalization; and new developments in technology. The case of north-central Namibia serves to demonstrate how these global models give rise to different and often contradictory interpretations even within a single approach that cannot be simply explained away as alternative readings of the same process. Twentieth-century north-central Namibia experienced dramatic deforestation and reforestation as a result of population pressure, and the area witnessed deglobalization of a pre-colonial global resource. The trajectory and the outcome of environmental change varies according to one of the three dominant paradigms: modernization paradigm, declinist paradigm or inclinist paradigm.

Keywords: conservation policies; declinist paradigm; deforestation; ecological exchanges; environmental change; modernization paradigm; Namibia; reforestation



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