Chapter 21

Decolonizing Environmental Science


Bullet Recognizing stakeholders with different values

Bullet Rethinking resource extraction

Bullet Fighting for environmental rights around the world

Bullet Understanding environmental racism exists

Bullet Legislating sustainability in the U.S.

For thousands of years, human societies organized themselves in ways that used and sustained Earth’s resources. Population growth in Europe at the end of the Middle Ages (circa 1400) led European nations to seek wealth and resources beyond their borders — the Age of Exploration began — and the balance of resource use around the world was forever changed. European explorers visited lands across the oceans and amassed great wealth for their home countries, while setting the stage for resource depletion and wealth inequity that continues today.

Currently nearly 8 billion people depend on Earth’s resources, and citizens of more than 200 nations must work together to find ways to sustainably share and protect those resources. ...

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