Who is Environmental Humanities for?

I'm reading the inaugural essay in the Journal Environmental Humanities for the University of New South Wales's FutureLearn course, Remaking Nature, that began this week (Excellent course on an excellent platform!  I'll have more to say about that soon).
 
The authors say
"the approaches coalescing under the banner of the environmental humanities have explicitly rejected the way in which humanities work on the environment has frequently been cast as ‘non-science’, with the primary role of mediating between the natural sciences and ‘the public'." While I agree there's a larger role for disciplines in the humanities to help re-conceptualize "human agency, social and cultural formation, social change and the entangled relations between human and non-human worlds," I think Environmental Humanities makes a big mistake if it looks down its nose at the work to be done communicating academic arguments and findings to the public. Who do the authors think is going to actually make change happen, if it's ever going to happen?
 
The authors say, and I see this thought repeated everywhere, that the humanities have traditionally been the home for questions of "meaning, value, ethics, justice, and the politics of knowledge construction." I tend to agree, although I think this is a big-tent humanities that includes many disciplines often considered Social Science in the US (at least when it comes time to fight for funding). They introduce the idea of a "thicker" concept of the human, which "rejects reductionist accounts of self-contained, rational, decision making subjects." Again, I think they have a point. I can think of several disciplines that rely too heavily on statistical or even
statistically-modeled behavior of abstract, out-of-context actors. But as valuable as post-modernism is, I think we need to go beyond merely freighting our conversations with deconstruction. Examining "entangled cultural and philosophical frameworks" can get just as far from the contingency faced by actual people on the ground (especially non-elite people) as looking for agency in the convergence of market forces.
 
The authors say the anthropocene undermines the idea of "the unlimited, autonomous human." Again I agree, but with qualifications. I think the anthropocene actually throws a spotlight onto the very limited nature of the idea of freedom, which
has never extended to as many people as we'd like to believe. But if we need the anthropocene to finally convince us that the freedom of the elite was the foam on a really big pitcher of beer, so be it.
 
The tension between "unsettling" and action may be the most interesting aspect of the essay. In the past, the humanities have been home to critics of "dominant narratives," but with widely varied degrees of actual engagement in the struggles of the present. We may need to look outside the English-speaking world for inspiration and examples here.
 
The authors give Environmental Historians credit for "highlighting the fact that the 'natural world' is not a passive background to human dramas." Their argument at this point seems to be a subtle re-branding effort, in which Environmental History becomes a subset of their discipline, all motivated by an "eco
philosophical" drive to position humans within a wider environment. A big element of this process involves giving voices to non-human agents in this larger ecology. That's a really fascinating issue, if the discipline can avoid getting lost in the weeds of trying to conceptualize the points of view of inarticulate (or even sometimes inanimate) agents in the environment.
 
These are important questions for philosophers, but I think if Environmental Humanities is really committed to activism on behalf of the environment, the philosophers need to remember to come back to earth from time to time and communicate with people who don't share their interest in these questions, but desperately want to know
what went wrong and what can we do about it right now? 
 
In the end, I think the biggest contribution Environmental Humanities can make to the planet may not be "challenging and unsettling traditional approaches to the humanities." Species facing extinction may be better served by clearly-articulated, understandable descriptions of the situation facing us and explanations of what we might do about it now. "We" being not just philosophers and scholars, but working people, families, and children.