Presidential Valuing the Environment

AHA Session 188
Saturday, January 8, 2011: 2:30 PM-4:30 PM
Room 207 (Hynes Convention Center)
Harriet Ritvo, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Harriet Ritvo, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Session Abstract

This panel addresses two large issues that arise repeatedly when historians engage environmental themes.  One is related to a problem that also bedevils contemporary environmental policy-making:  how do you assign value, especially the kind of value that lends itself to calculation and comparison, to something so amorphous and ubiquitous? Or, to put it differently, how do you distinguish between the invaluable and the worthless? The other arises from an apparent paradox:  in many cases, the boundaries suggested by the environment differ significantly from political boundaries, and environmental historians are particularly inclined to exploit evidence not grounded in language. Yet most work in environmental history falls readily into standard national or geographical categories.

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