A necessary dimension

 

In your latest “Editor’s Note,” you indicated that some readers have “wondered” about recent editorial forays into long-standing social and cultural issues, such as the Sagebrush Rebellion, or the Wise Use Movement (HCN, 5/2/16). As a new subscriber (and educator who shares HCN with two college composition courses), I support such intentional turns as a vital adjunct to your strictly environmental coverage. This type of social/cultural coverage adds a necessary dimension to the limited vista of technical, engineering and scientific “problems” by highlighting the imminent participation of political-ideological, economic and social-historical factors. My students, perhaps like some readers, would love to perceive climate change, for example, as a technical problem with technical solutions in the wings, but as I must remind them, our technology, engineering and scientific achievements reflect and emerge from powerful sources within our culture and history.

Take the story in the same issue that links environmental problems (air quality and coastal development) with politics — “California ousts environmental agency leaders.” Not only does the article identify the environmental issues at play, it clearly foregrounds these in California’s complicated political and economic scene. This is good reporting, and I might add, not done well or frequently enough by our local, but sadly debilitated, Los Angeles Times. Kudos to intern Lyndsey Gilpin.