From climate change to toxic waste, from biodiversity loss to deforestation, we are slowly realizing that science, technology and economics simply do not have all of the answers. The time has come to take the humans involved in environmental issues as seriously as we have taken our fine-grained analyses of climate, ecosystems, hydrology, and all of the other facets of our “natural” world. For several decades there have been efforts to better understand and intervene in the “human dimensions” of environmental issues. Many of these efforts, however, have been guided by simple behaviourist or economic models of human thoughts and action, and dominated by quantitative approaches.
In contrast, the environmental humanities rest on a richer analysis of the underlying cultural frameworks that structure understanding of our environments. And so, taking the environment seriously has required humanities scholars to explore interdisciplinary approaches. While it is not yet clear what will happen under the umbrella of “the environmental humanities”, one of the things that this label both allows and encourages is the broadening of conversations between humanities and social and natural science disciplines and beyond.