Environmental Crises in Central Asia: From Steppes to Seas, from Deserts to Glaciers has just been published by Routledge as part of its Studies in Environmental Communication and Media series.
The editors are Knight Center director Eric Freedman and Mark Neuzil, a journalism professor at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota and a past guest speaker at the Knight Center.
The book explores an array of environmental challenges in a strategically crucial part of the globe, including the impact of climate change on glacial melt, desertification, deforestation, destruction of biodiversity, hazardous wastes, water quality and supply, energy exploration, air and pesticide pollution, and environmental diseases.
Those challenges cross national borders and may affect economic, political and cultural relationships on a vast geographic scale at a time when the region’s governments are burdened by limited economic resources, weak civil society institutions and political authoritarianism.
The book emphasizes the reality that environmental conditions don’t exist in a vacuum. They’re influenced by science, politics, history, public policy, culture, economics, public attitudes and competing priorities, as well as past human decisions. In the case of Central Asia, such Soviet-era decisions include irrigation systems and physical infrastructure that are now crumbling, mine tailings that leach pollutants into soil and groundwater, and abandoned factories that are physically decrepit and contaminated with toxic chemicals.
Thus it draws on research in the social sciences, natural sciences, media studies and health by scholars and practitioners in Asia, Europe and the United States.
In addition to editing the book, Freedman and Neuzil co-wrote a chapter on Western press coverage of environmental news with Knight Center research director Bruno Takahashi and Christine Carmichael, a doctoral student in MSU’s Department of Community Sustainability. Carmichael belongs to the Knight Center’s research collaborative and is a former Knight Center research assistant.
A team of MSU researchers contributed to a chapter on ecologically-based integrated pest management for potatoes, tomatoes and wheat in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. They are Karim Maredia, George Bird, Doug Landis and Joy Landis from the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
The book is available in hardcover and as an eBook.