Summary of "Beyond the Fray: Reshaping America's Environmental Response"

Summary of

Beyond the Fray: Reshaping America's Environmental Response

By Daniel D. Chiras

Summary written by T.A. O'Lonergan, Conflict Research Consortium

Citation: Beyond the Fray: Reshaping America's Environmental Response, Daniel D. Chiras, (Colorado: Johnson Books, 1990), 206 pp.

Beyond the Fray: Reshaping America's Environmental Response will be of interest to those who seek an understanding of an alternative ethic which will not only support, but will require, respect for the natural world. Following an excellent forward by Roderick Nash, Chiras asserts that recent disasters such as the Exxon Valdez, Chernobyl and Three Mile Island have resulted in a resounding 'Yes' to the question, Is it time for a change? He asserts that, gratifying as the public response has been to increasing insults to commonly held natural resources, the response alone is insufficient to produce the changes necessary to halt or repair the damage already done. Chiras states that this work "... looks at ways that the environmental response can - and must - evolve to meet the complex challenges now facing us".

The second chapter discusses the move which must be made from (to paraphrase the author) the blindness which afflicts us as we attempt to view the future to the ability to envision sustainability. The author asserts that by building upon Aldo Leopold's land ethic, we may construct sustainable ethics which would be the foundation of a sustainable society. The way to reach this society is by "... widen(ing) our circle of compassion to embrace all living things and the world in which they live". The third chapter examines the potential within people to support a new ethic. Chiras supports this assertion by refutation of three myths: people don't care, individual actions don't count, and conservation is sacrifice. He then proposes an outreach program from environmentalists to people on the sidelines of the environmental movement.

The fourth chapter discusses ways of: involving senior citizens, greening the religious community, and educating our children. The author sees the role of environmentalists as more than providing the necessary theoretical foundations for a change of ethic. He proposes that they must be concerned with the practical application of the theoretical: such application will change people's lives to be more compatible with sustainable ethics. Chiras proposes a proactive rather than a reactive role for environmentalists. To accomplish this they must become competent in economics, and technical fields from within which they will be able to affect the transition to the new ethic. The author also explores an expansion beyond direct mail approaches to gaining support for environmental issues. He praises the marketing abilities of Sierra magazine, Greenpeace and the Sierra Club.

The penultimate chapter proposes an integration of environmental organisations to avoid duplication of efforts and to aid in support of local efforts. The final chapter is a summary of the text with advice on strategies for success. The text is followed by three appendices which are concerned with: building a sustainable future, gifts of environmental consciousness, and an especially nice, primer on critical thinking.

Beyond the Fray: Reshaping America's Environmental Response is constructed in a very much handbook style. The well written text takes a practical approach to the task of making environmentalism mainstream.