How Do We Know We Have Global Environmental Problems?

Taylor, P., & Buttel, F. (1992). How Do We Know We Have Global Environmental Problems? Science and the Globalization of Environmental Discourse. Geoforum, 23(3), 405-416.

This paper by Taylor and Buttel examines how science has proven to us that we have an environmental problem that has been progressing over time and they use social science studies to think of the relationship between environmental science  and politics in a different way. They examine globalization and define global as “…unitary and not a differentiated we” (1992). The authors emphasize looking at environmental change through the disciplines of both science, sociology and politics. They are promoting a sociological perspective on science when looking at global environmental problems. The authors claim that the science and the social are closely linked and that any “…reconstruction of science and politics must be a multi-faceted process drawing upon many more strands than simply a reconceptualization…” (Taylor and Buttel, 1992). This article stresses the importance of using knowledge from different disciplines when approaching global environmental problems. This is because, when working on a global scale, one cannot simply use a strictly scientific solution, or a political solution or a sociological solution. There has to be an approach that combines all of these ways of thinking and knowledge. One-size-fits-all policies do not work because they are usually looking at the problem from one framework and trying to use that across multiple regions when instead, there needs to be a holistic approach that uses multiple disciplines.