Ecologists, like other scientists, have for decades debated their role in society. While some have argued that ecologists should participate in environmental politics, others have focused their attention strictly on scientific issues. In Ecologists and Environmental Politics, originally published in hardback in 1997 and now updated with a new preface by the author, Stephen Bocking explores this debate by recounting the history of ecology in Great Britain, the United States, and Canada since the 1940s.
Bocking tells this history through four case studies: the origins and early research of the Nature Conservancy in Great Britain; the development of ecology at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee; the work of the Hubbard Brook Ecosystem Study in New Hampshire; and research in fisheries ecology at the University of Toronto. By comparing these case studies, Bocking demonstrates how the places of contemporary science – laboratories, landscapes, and funding agencies – and science's purposes, as expressed through the political roles of expertise and specific managerial and regulatory responsibilities, have shaped contemporary ecology and its application to pressing environmental problems.
Stephen Bocking is a professor of environmental history and policy in the Trent School of the Environment at Trent University. His other books include Biodiversity in Canada: Ecology, Ideas, and Action; Nature's Experts: Science, Politics, and the Environment; and Ice Blink: Navigating Northern Environmental History.