To read the full version of this content please select one of the options below:

Chapter 1 Introduction: The background to global ecopolitics

Global Ecological Politics

ISBN: 978-1-84950-748-6, eISBN: 978-1-84950-749-3

ISSN: 2041-806X

Publication date: 23 February 2010


To better understand the key issues surrounding Global Ecopolitics, it may be beneficial to examine the background to the environmental movement over time. The environmental movement is perhaps the most significant contemporary global movement to have emerged in recent decades. The relationship between humankind and nature has been the subject of much debate and enquiry over time. The environmental movement had its cultural origins in literary accounts of humanity's relationship with nature, beginning from the romantic poets such as William Blake, John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Lord Byron, whose works were concerned with the reconciliation of man and nature. This aesthetic could also be found in subsequent transcendentalist American literature, such as Henry David Thoreau's Walden, published in 1854 (Shabecoff, 2003, pp. 37–71). The transcendentalists were interested in the spiritual connections that connected humankind and nature with God and could be seen as the forefathers of deep green ecologists. Charles Darwin's Origin of the Species was published in 1859, creating further interest in the understanding of nature. George Perkins Marsh wrote of the destructive impact of agriculture in his book Man and Nature in 1864. President Teddy Roosevelt would develop the National Parks with Gifford Pinchot of the Forestry Service in the early 1900s. In the aftermath of the Industrial Revolution, concerns about protecting wildlife led to the emergence of a progressive conservation movement, alongside federal regulation of natural habitats and the establishment of national parks. Influential conservation groups included the National Audubon Society, founded in 1886, and the Sierra Club, founded by John Muir in 1892. Muir and Pinchot would become adversaries in the campaign to prevent the building of a dam in Yosemite National Park in the early decade of the nineteenth century (ibid.).


Leonard, L. (2010), "Chapter 1 Introduction: The background to global ecopolitics", Leonard, L. and Barry, J. (Ed.) Global Ecological Politics (Advances in Ecopolitics, Vol. 5), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 1-18.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited