Paradise for Sale: A Parable of Nature. By Carl N. McDaniel and John M. Gowdy. Berkeley, Los Angeles and London: University of California Press, 2000. Reviewed by David Zurick

David Zurick
2000 Journal of Political Ecology  
come to terms with the productive and economic side of human communities. This is in stark contrast to the literature on biodiversity and sustainability, which has produced a great deal of acrimonious debate between biodiversity conservation and sustainable development interests rather than acknowledging that both are important and moving on to seek practical ways advance both concerns. Using the real world cases that it presents, the book highlights how efforts to address environmental and
more » ... al issues comprehensively have arisen out of the limitations of prior efforts to address these issues in isolation. The book is firmly grounded in the inclusive beliefs that: (1) we can simultaneously work toward the goals of environmental quality, social justice, and economic vitality; (2) each of the different sectors -public, private, and non-profit -has a contribution to make; and (3) real progress is made when these players are able to find areas of common concern and develop corresponding actions. None of the authors find unqualified successes in the cases that they discuss, and they pragmatically note failures and successes, as well as hopeful and discouraging signs for the future. The perspective that emerges is that the quest for sustainable communities is a turbulent process of interacting interest groups, fragile progress mixed with setbacks, solving of old problems and discovery of new ones. This process is messy, but produces concrete improvements in many environmental and social indicators over time. Yet problems are rarely fully solved, and new problems emerge, making sustainability always a work-in-progress. By fully embracing the complexity and uncertainty found in the cases, the authors position themselves to lay out a strong agenda for future research and practice. (In keeping with the inclusive nature of the book, the authors are able to discuss both implementation needs and research needs in a synergistic way, rather than seeing one as being more important than the other) Kraft and Mazmanian effectively sum up the lessons of the book and lay out a future agenda in their concluding chapter. They see environmental policy at the beginning of what could be a profound transformation towards a sustainable communities approach, but with the direction and extent of this transformation depending on how certain key challenges are met. One of these challenges is developing public involvement and governance processes that can address the ever-present conflicts in goals among interest groups and find sufficient consensus that to support concrete initiatives. A second challenge is developing indicators and monitoring methods that can inform policy choices. The third challenge is for researchers to conduct comparative research involving cases with different histories, types and levels of initiatives, and degree of success or failure to produce the empirical knowledge and theories (social, cultural, economic, and political) that can bring about shifts in human behavior and progress towards sustainable communities. This book makes a significant contribution towards the theory and practice of sustainability by analyzing a series of case studies with the common framework of the three epochs of modern environmental policy. Although the book is clearly much stronger on urban and regional planning issues than natural resource management issues (i.e., issues within the scope of EPA's authority, rather than within the domains of the US Departments of Interior and Agriculture), it successfully lays out a strong framework that can be applied to many aspects of recent and current environmental policy. Its pragmatic focus will provide useful guidance to practitioners who are working in environmental policy and management, while at the same time providing a real-world anchor that can guide academic and applied researchers in their efforts to contribute to environmental policy and management.
doi:10.2458/v7i1.21564 fatcat:mvf7kby4ybggzfujpr5njbfohy