The introduction begins with an overview of the book’s methods, sources, and argument. Rather than presenting pictures as mere illustrations, this book instead considers images as active rhetorical agents. Media images do not simply illustrate environmental politics, but also act as politics by naturalizing particular meanings of environmentalism. Following this discussion, the introduction outlines the book’s three major themes: the emotions and public life; the shifting meanings of environmental citizenship; and the limits of media representation. Often missing from other histories of environmentalism, these themes help illuminate the prospects and limits of mainstream images. The introduction also discusses some of the recurring motifs in popular environmental imagery: the focus on children as emblems of universal vulnerability; the emphasis on individual action and personal responsibility; and the neglect of power relations and structural inequities. Finally, the introduction explains the concept of slow violence and notes the representational challenges posed by the gradually-escalating problems of the environmental crisis.
Keywords: media images, environmentalism, emotions, public life, environmental citizenship, children, universal vulnerability, individual responsibility, slow violence