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Slide 1 - The Dilemma of Sustainability In order to achieve sustainability, development must occur to bring people out of poverty. In order to achieve sustainability, development must be slowed or halted to protect nonhuman nature.
Slide 2 - Green Development: Environment and Sustainability in a Developing World Chapter 1 “The dilemma of sustainability” is W.M. Adams’ introduction to the issues of sustainability, development, and sustainable development, and to the book as a whole. Chapters 2-4 are the history of sustainability and development in global environmental politics. Chapter 5 “Mainstream sustainable development” is about working within existing economic, political, and social arrangements and incrementally reforming these arrangements to achieve sustainable development. Chapter 6 “Delivering mainstream sustainable development” is a continuation of Chapter 5. Chapter 7 “Countercurrents in sustainable development” is about significantly or radically changing existing economic, political, and social arrangements to eliminate or revolutionize how we conceptualize the human-nature relationship and how we live on planet Earth.
Slide 3 - Green Development: Environment and Sustainability in a Developing World Chapters 8-12 are political ecology analyses of specific environmental problems: Chapter 8 “Dryland political ecology” Chapter 9 “Sustainable forests” Chapter 10 “The politics of preservation” Chapter 11 “Sustainability and river control” Chapter 12 “Industrial and urban hazard” Chapter 13 “Green development: reformism or radicalism?” is Adams’ conclusion to the book.
Slide 4 - Political Ecology (PE) PE is motivated by a perceived need to go beyond traditional environmentalism and the limited reformism of mainstream sustainable development. PE links natural sciences, social sciences, and economics. PE views the interactions between people and the environment in political terms as a politicized environment of power relationships. Environment = product of political and social processes linked at nested scales from the local to the global. PE ties the logics, dynamics, and patterns of economic change to the politics of environmental action and to actual ecological outcomes. Political ecologists typically engage in field-based empirical research, with theoretical approaches grounded in anthropology, environmental history, geography, political science, sociology, and other fields.
Slide 5 - Subalternity and Subalterns Sub = subordinated. Altern = alternative. Subalterns are defined as people who are marginalized in social, cultural, and economic ways. Marginalization typically leads to negative identities (feeling despised) that can contribute to oppression and self-destruction. These negative identities can be owned and reconstructed in affirmative ways. Reconstruction involves cultivating shared, collective identities through interactions and struggles with other groups. The new collective identities offer grounds for resistance movements, including the Environmental Justice Movement.
Slide 6 - Laura Pulido, Environmentalism and Economic Justice (1996) Subaltern environmentalism (SE) vs. traditional environmentalism (TE): Identity: TE tends to attract various people who have only a limited personal connection to TE issues. SE tends to draw people together who have direct personal connections to SE issues and who already exist as social or spatial entities. Issues: TE tends to be focused on more broadly construed quality of life issues. SE tends to be focused on more narrowly construed quality of life or survival issues within localized peoples’ economic projects and livelihoods.
Slide 7 - Subaltern Environmentalism Focuses on livelihood issues: A local community’s struggle to gain access to and control over natural resources to support itself. This can include community-based conservation to protect nonhuman nature. Provides critiques of modern, capital-intensive developments that increase export revenues, displace local people and knowledge, and usurp subsistence production. Involves oppositional struggles to change the distribution of power and resources to benefit the less powerful. Combats structural forces that marginalize and subordinate people and that produce environmental degradation.
Slide 8 - Rob Nixon: Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor (2011) Slow violence is a form of structural violence that typically: Is associated with environmental problems. Is gradual and out of sync with narrative and media expectations and with the swift seasons of electoral change. Is low in instant spectacle but high in long-term effects. Is almost imperceptible and driven by hidden agency. Results in human and environmental casualties that typically are not seen or accurately counted.
Slide 9 - Rob Nixon: Temporalities of Place “Place is a temporal attainment that must be constantly renegotiated in the face of changes that arrive from without and within, some benign, others potentially ruinous. To engage the temporal displacements involved in slow violence against the poor thus requires that we rethink questions of physical displacement as well…. Paradoxically, those forcibly removed by development include conservation refugees. To often in the global South, conservation, driven by powerful transnational nature NGOs, combines an antidevelopment rhetoric with the development of finite resources for the touristic few, thereby depleting vital resources for long-term residents.” (p. 18)
Slide 10 - Environmental Justice (EJ) in the Global South Although the Environmental Justice Movement (EJM) in the United States got its strongest push in the 1980s, the US is not necessarily where the global EJM began. US political hegemony should not be extended to include EJM hegemony. Many groups in the global South that confront environmental injustice don’t self-identify as EJM groups. Social concerns and environmental concerns tend to be wrapped together. Many global South groups use the language of human rights to challenge racism, class inequalities, and corporate power.
Slide 11 - More EJ in the Global South Global “environmental justice” groups and their networks challenge, disrupt, and transform global norms, global North-South distinctions and binaries, and accepted common sense about a range of different issues. There is much focus on shared decision-making and leadership (recognition and participatory justice). Environmental inequalities are most immediately seen as the result of political and economic institutional power. Activists seek to produce a diagnostic frame of this power to achieve solutions, goals, and a vision of better world.
Slide 12 - Global Environmental Justice: Some Terminology Transnational social movement organization (TSMO): an activist NGO (non-governmental organization) that operates in more than two nation-states. Most of these are based in the global North. Political economic opportunity structure: a way of modeling the intimate associations between formal political institutions (e.g., states and legislative bodies), economic institutions (e.g., large corporations and banks), and TSMOs. These structures create opportunities for TSMOs to address environmental injustice and to redefine transnational politics and public spheres. Environmental colonialism: when global Northern TSMOs dictate polices, practices, and strategies to TSMOs and others in the global South about how to handle environmental problems in the global South.
Slide 13 - Some Environmental Justice Network Groups 1. Basel Action Network (BAN): 2. Global Anti-Incinerator Alliance, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA): 3. Global Response (GR): 4. Greenpeace International: 5. Health Care Without Harm: 6. International POPs Elimination Network (IPEN): 7. Pesticide Action Network (PAN): 8. Southern Poverty Law Center: 9. Environmental Justice Resource Center at Clark Atlanta University:
Slide 14 - EJ Framework: Ecological Modernization The design, performance, and evaluation of production processes are increasingly based on ecological criteria rather than on a narrow economic calculus. Industrial society has entered a new period characterized by new technologies, innovative entrepreneurs, and farsighted financiers who are bringing about a new generation of industrial innovation. The solution to the environmental crisis lies within the structures of modernity itself—economic development and rising environmental standards. Economic growth and technological innovation will save us from environmental problems.
Slide 15 - EJ Framework: Environmental Populism Aim to fulfill basic human needs. Use appropriate and intermediate technology. Focus on participatory development by creating grassroots spaces for local communities to organize, plan, and manage their own development. Reform development through the participation of citizens. Environmental populism essentially champions communitarianism and participatory justice.
Slide 16 - EJ Framework: Risk Society A modern nation-state is a risk society. This is marked by an exponential increase in the production and use of hazardous chemical substances that permeate social institutions, human bodies, and the natural world. The new hazards of the risk society: Are unlimited in time and space. Potentially put everyone at risk. May be minimized but not eliminated. Are often irreversible. Have diverse sources that make tracking responsibility difficult to impossible. Are incalculable in ways that exceed the capacities of organizations to provide insurance against them or compensation. May be identified and measured only by scientific means.
Slide 17 - EJ Framework: Treadmill of Production (ToP) Capitalism is a system ideologically wedded to infinite economic growth in which market economies have an inherent need for capital investment to generate goods for sale on the market, income for workers, and legitimacy for nation-states. Capitalist economies behave like a “treadmill of production” that continuously creates social and ecological harm through a self-reinforcing mechanism of increasing rates of production and consumption. Resources are limited, and ecological systems cannot fully meet both market value needs and social needs; the ToP prioritizes market value uses of ecosystems over other biological and social necessities for people. Natural resource depletion withdrawals, capital economic growth, pollution level additions, social welfare, and environmental protection exist in inherent tension.
Slide 18 - Toxics There are at least 70,000 to 80,000 synthetic chemicals in use today. Perhaps several thousand have been tested for carcinogenicity. Manufacturing facilities release billions of pounds of toxic chemicals into the environment (air, water, and land) every year. The main sources of exposure to these chemicals, however, are the chemical products themselves and not merely the productive processes. We don’t know the levels of toxics to which we are exposed from products we use. The chemical industry grows at a rate of about 3.5% a year.
Slide 19 - The Famous Lawrence Summers Memo On December 12, 1991 Lawrence Summers—vice president and chief economist of the World Bank—wrote the following in an internal memo for the World Bank: “Shouldn’t the World Bank be encouraging MORE migration of the dirty industries to the LDC? I can think of three reasons…. 1) A given amount of health impairing pollution should be done in the country with the lowest cost, which will be the country with the lowest wages. I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that. 2) I’ve always thought that under-populated countries in Africa are UNDER-polluted, their air quality is probably vastly inefficiently low compared to Los Angeles or Mexico City. 3) The concern over an agent [pollutant] that causes a one in a million change in the odds of prostate cancer is obviously going to be much higher in a country where more people survive to get prostate cancer than in a country [with higher mortality rates].” Summers was recently the Director of President Obama’s National Economic Council.
Slide 20 - Transnational (Global) Waste Trading and Dumping Toxic burdens are being shifted from the global North to the global South. Why? Exponential increase in production of hazardous waste and the emergence of more stringent environmental regulations in global North. Need for fiscal relief among nations of the global South. Power of economic globalization: industries must cut costs and increase profits or they will fail—it’s more profitable to ship waste to the global South. Racist and classist culture ideology within the global North.
Slide 21 - Regulating Toxics Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal: drafted in 1989, entered into force in 1992. Only countries that have not ratified: Afghanistan, Haiti, United States Rotterdam Convention on the Prior informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade: drafted in 1998, entered into force in 2004. Only countries that have not ratified: Angola, Barbados, Indonesia, Saint Lucia, Seychelles, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkey, United States Stockholm Convention for the Elimination of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs): drafted in 2001, entered into force in 2005. Only countries that have not ratified: Brunei Darussalam, Haiti, Israel, Italy, Malaysia, Malta, Saudi Arabia, United States
Slide 22 - Race to the Bottom Argument Free trade makes it easier for industries to locate in different countries. Because different countries have different environmental regulations, companies have incentives to move to countries with laxer regulatory standards. Because countries realize this and want to retain or attract industries, countries have incentives to reduce environmental regulations. These incentives lead companies to move to countries that have laxer regulations and countries to reduce regulations. Because companies relocate, they emit more pollution than they would without free trade. Thus, free trade leads to a “race to the bottom” in which countries race to lower environmental standards (to the bottom) and companies race to relocate in these countries.
Slide 23 - A Counterargument Against the Race to the Bottom Argument As countries become wealthier through free trade, they might be able to afford stronger environmental standards. Thus free trade might increase environmental protection. This is known as the environmental Kuznets curve (EKC) hypothesis. To survive in a freely trading economy, companies might have to move to countries with the lowest labor costs regardless of the environmental regulations in these countries. It might be better for companies to invest in environmentally sound technology at the outset rather than face the possibility of having to adapt to rising environmental standards in the future (ecological modernization). Trade might yield new technologies that reduce environmental damage (ecological modernization). Thus, the race to the bottom argument might not be a good argument
Slide 24 - A Counterargument to the Counterargument Against the Race to the Bottom Argument The EKC hypothesis might be wrong. National carbon dioxide emissions per capita are almost directly related to average income in a nation. Since emissions per capita continue to rise with income, it might be disingenuous to say that there will be improvement in emissions if nations just grow economically. Countries that have lower labor costs tend to have less stringent environmental regulations. The ecological modernization thesis might be wrong. Thus, the race to the bottom argument might be a good argument.