• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

Volatile Places: A Sociology of Communities and Environmental Controversies is a thoughtful guide to the spirited public controversies that inevitably occur when environments and human communities collide. The movie "An Inconvenient Truth" based on the environmental activism of Al Gore and the devastation of Hurricane Katrina are specifically highlighted. Authors Valerie Gunter and Steve Kroll-Smith begin with a simple observation and offer a provocative case study approach to the investigation of community and environmental controversies.

The Problem of Uncertain Knowledge
The problem of uncertain knowledge

If we knew all the laws of nature, we should need only one fact, or the description of one actual phenomenon, to infer all the particular results at that point. Now we know only a few laws, and our result is vitiated, not, of course, by any confusion or irregularity in nature, but by our ignorance of essential elements in this calculation.

Henry David Thoreau1

Debating the merits of cutting old-growth forests, siting a hazardous waste facility in a small town, and cleaning up toxins in the biosphere are quite different controversies, though they share at least one important feature: the problem of environments and communities is inevitably linked to languages of expertise. Experts, however, rarely speak with ...

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