Slide Mountain: Or, the Folly of Owning Nature

Theodore Steinberg, Author University of California Press $30 (224p) ISBN 978-0-520-08763-7
Steinberg, assistant history professor at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and Rutgers University, claims that we cause many of our environmental problems because we believe it is possible to own nature--the land, air and resources that make up the natural world. Ownership, in his mind, is equated with the desire to control, manipulate and subjugate what is owned. Unfortunately, this thesis is not fully developed, even though the five case studies forming the bulk of the book are supposed to ``investigate the kinds of distinctive problems that emerge when nature is fashioned as a thing that can be owned.'' The case studies themselves--a land dispute in Iowa occasioned by a shift in the Missouri River, a Louisiana debate over lakefront property, a battle over control of underground water rights in Arizona, a Pennsylvania court case dealing with ``cloudbusting,'' or weather modification, and a series of controversies concerning air rights in Manhattan--are interesting to read, if not particularly well linked thematically. Ultimately the book is more anecdotal than insightful. Illustrations. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/27/1995
Release date: 03/01/1995
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 224 pages - 978-0-520-20709-7
Open Ebook - 224 pages - 978-0-520-91846-7
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