From Environmental Utopianism to Parochial Ecology

Communities of Place and the Politics of Sustainability


  • Michael S. Northcott



The image of the earth from space as the blue planet has become one of the dominant framings of nature in the late twentieth century. From space the earth looks at once beautiful and fragile. The quantity of water on the planet, relative to land, is striking. So too are the contrasts between the white polar caps and the light and dark browns of the continents of Africa, Asia and the Americas. The image has echoes of Stanley Kubrik’s film 2001, with its closing shot of a vulnerable foetus in a bubble floating around earth. It is reminiscent, too, of images from the Apollo moon landings, where astronauts were the first humans to experience ‘earth rise’ as they lived for two or three days on the moon, and to capture this event on film. For many of us, the nearest we come to experiencing this image of earth from space is at 37,000 feet in an aeroplane. Flying from Scotland to Van-couver recently I was struck by the awesome beauty of the icy coasts and inlets of Greenland, and of the north-eastern regions of Canada, recently politically reconstituted as the Province of Ninevet with its own parliament for its 35,000 human inhabitants.






How to Cite

Northcott, M. S. (2000). From Environmental Utopianism to Parochial Ecology: Communities of Place and the Politics of Sustainability. Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture, 5(1).