This book is based on the idea that each person is the center of an extensive ecosystem in which the cultural world is learned through participation in social institutions and the natural world is experienced through artifacts and the spaces in which life is lived. Urquhart describes the changing ecosystems within which he has lived, indicating some of the dominant modern cultural institutions and places and things that have influenced him. He then shows that within the last few decades the natural world has been undergoing changes at a rate unprecedented in all previous human time; and, further, that dominant modern world views underlie the resulting radical changes. To lessen or avert major disruptions in the world ecosystem, Urquhart suggests an awareness, acceptance, and adoption of much different world views. At a personal level, dissonance occurs when an individual becomes aware that his/her views and actions are contributing to an acceleration of ecological disruptions. In an epilogue he suggests a way to lessen this dissonance through an active participation in ecological thought and behavior.
Alvin W. Urquhart is an Emeritus Professor of Geography and a former Director of the Environmental Studies Program at the University of Oregon
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