Nature and the City
Making Environmental Policy in Toronto and Los Angeles
The book emphasizes ‘subaltern’ environmental justice concerns as instrumental in shaping the policy process. Looking back to the 1990s—when ecological modernization began to emerge as a dominant approach to environmental policy and theory—Desfor and Keil examine four case studies: restoration of the Don River in Toronto, cleanup of contaminated soil in Toronto, regeneration of the Los Angeles River, and air pollution reduction in Los Angeles. In each case, they show that local constituencies can develop political strategies that create alternatives to ecological modernization. When environmental policies appear to have been produced through solely technical exercises, they warn, one must be suspicious about the removal of contention from the process.
In the face of economic and environmental processes that have been increasingly influenced by neo-liberalism and globalization, Desfor and Keil’s analysis posits that continuing modernization of industrial capitalist societies entails a measure of deliberate change to societal relationships with nature in cities. Their book shows that environmental policies are about much more than green capitalism or the technical mastery of problems; they are about how future urban generations live their lives with sustainability and justice.