This interdisciplinary book challenges current approaches to “environmental problems” that perpetuate flawed but deeply embedded cultural beliefs about the role of science and technology in society. The authors elucidate and interrogate a cultural history of solutionism that typifies expectations that science can, should, and will reduce risk to people and property by containing and controlling biophysical phenomena. Using historical analysis, eco-evolutionary principles, and case studies on floods, radioactive waste, and epidemics, the authors show that perceived solutions to “environmental problems” generate new problems, leading to problem-solution cycles of increasing scope and complexity. The authors encourage readers to challenge the ideology of solutionism by considering the potential of language, social action and new paradigms of sustainability to shape management systems. This book will appeal to scholars in multi- and interdisciplinary fields such as Environment Studies, Environmental Science, Environmental Policy, and Science, Technology, and Society Studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages147
ISBN (Electronic)9783319528243
ISBN (Print)9783319528236
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017



  • Eco-human systems
  • Environmental politics
  • Microbial life
  • Natural landscapes
  • Nuclear energy
  • Sustainability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

Cite this

Cockerill, K., Armstrong, M., Richter, J., & Okie, J. (2017). Environmental realism: Challenging solutions. Springer International Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-52824-3