Global Ecological Politics: Volume 5

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(15 chapters)
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This edition of the Advances in Ecopolitics Series with Emerald Publishing examines the range of environmental campaigns that are in occurring across the planet. As world leaders attempt to tackle climate change, this edition presents a collection of case studies on global grassroots initiatives and activism in diverse areas such as green economic alternatives in Anne Pettifor's study on ‘The Green New Deal: Restoring Balance and Stability to the Global Financial and Ecosystem’ or John Barry's chapter ‘Towards a Model of Green Political Economy: From Economic Growth and Ecological Modernisation to Economic Security’ or regional activism in defense of communities as presented in Victor Ojakorotu's study on ‘the Dilemma of Justice: Foreign Oil Multinationals and Human Rights Violation in the Niger Delta of Nigeria’.

To better understand the key issues surrounding Global Ecopolitics, it may be beneficial to examine the background to the environmental movement over time. The environmental movement is perhaps the most significant contemporary global movement to have emerged in recent decades. The relationship between humankind and nature has been the subject of much debate and enquiry over time. The environmental movement had its cultural origins in literary accounts of humanity's relationship with nature, beginning from the romantic poets such as William Blake, John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Lord Byron, whose works were concerned with the reconciliation of man and nature. This aesthetic could also be found in subsequent transcendentalist American literature, such as Henry David Thoreau's Walden, published in 1854 (Shabecoff, 2003, pp. 37–71). The transcendentalists were interested in the spiritual connections that connected humankind and nature with God and could be seen as the forefathers of deep green ecologists. Charles Darwin's Origin of the Species was published in 1859, creating further interest in the understanding of nature. George Perkins Marsh wrote of the destructive impact of agriculture in his book Man and Nature in 1864. President Teddy Roosevelt would develop the National Parks with Gifford Pinchot of the Forestry Service in the early 1900s. In the aftermath of the Industrial Revolution, concerns about protecting wildlife led to the emergence of a progressive conservation movement, alongside federal regulation of natural habitats and the establishment of national parks. Influential conservation groups included the National Audubon Society, founded in 1886, and the Sierra Club, founded by John Muir in 1892. Muir and Pinchot would become adversaries in the campaign to prevent the building of a dam in Yosemite National Park in the early decade of the nineteenth century (ibid.).

We are today in the middle of the greatest economic catastrophe – the greatest catastrophe due almost entirely to economic causes – of the modern world…I see no reason to be in the slightest degree doubtful about the initiating causes of the slump….The leading characteristic was an extraordinary willingness to borrow money for the purposes of new real investment at very high rates of interest – rates of interest which were extravagantly high on pre-war standards, rates of interest which have never in the history of the world been earned, I should say, over a period of years over the average of enterprise as a whole. This was a phenomenon which was apparent not, indeed, over the whole world but over a very large part of it.– John Maynard Keynes (First of the Harris Foundation Lectures, 1931)

The crisis in the Niger Delta predates discovery of oil in large quantities at Oloibiri in 1956. Before independence in 1960, conflict in the region took the form of agitation for political representation and protection against marginalization by the dominant ethnic groups. However, this crisis took a new dimension in the early 1990s as oil became a major source of foreign exchange and the derivation formula was changed in favour of the federal government with negative consequences on the local people (the need to maintain constant flow of oil have resulted to gross violation of the local people's rights by the state and the oil multinationals) especially under the military regimes. The entrenchment of democracy in the late 1990s further escalated the tripartite conflict between the state, oil multinationals and host communities as the complex crisis drew global attention. The formation of Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP) and Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) in the 1990s to challenge the abuse of human rights over four decades was overwhelmed applauded by the local people of the region. More importantly, MOSOP was the first social movement in the region to have internationalized the plight of the local people while IYC took over from the period when MOSOP had some internal crises that undermined its struggle.

Equally the achievements of MOSOP and IYC have instigated the formation of other social movements in the Niger Delta as a whole. The pressure from these social movements might have accounted for sudden change of policies by the state and the major oil multinationals in the mid-1990s. However, the fundamental question is to what extent the social movements (MOSOP/IYC) and International civil society have been successful with the issue of human rights abuse in the region.

Money is not often conceptualised as an object of protest or a tool for constructing alternative communities, economies and societies. Yet from the original utopian socialists Owen and Proudhon to contemporary alternative currency networks people have attempted to construct networks using new forms of subaltern money as a tool for building a more liberated economy and society. This chapter reviews the successes and failures of utopian money networks, arguing that although empirical success is ephemeral, the need to localise economies as a response to dangerous climate change might mean that their long-term future is brighter.

This chapter explores how the ideal of autonomous ecological living – ecotopia – is created and compromised by the everyday cultural life of mainstream society. It investigates the degree to which the structures of the mainstream are eluded, changed and subverted to create ‘ecotopia’, and also how this ideal is everyday compromised to survive. Drawing on empirical research undertaken at the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT), this chapter argues that fragmented utopias are inevitable when attempting to live ecologically in twenty-first century Britain. However, the elusiveness of ecotopia offers an important opportunity to normalise these experiments in ecological living and emphasise their connections and capacity to inform mainstream society.

Perhaps the weakest dimension of the ‘triple bottom line’ understanding of sustainable development has been the ‘economic’ dimension. Much of the thinking about the appropriate ‘political economy’ to underpin sustainable development has been either utopian (as in some ‘green’ political views) or ‘business as usual’ approaches. This chapter suggests that ‘ecological modernisation’ is the dominant conceptualisation of ‘sustainable development’ within the United Kingdom and illustrates this by looking at some key ‘sustainable development’ policy documents from the UK Government. Although critical of the reformist ‘policy telos’ of ecological modernisation, supporters of more radical version of sustainable development also need to be aware of the strategic opportunities of this policy discourse. In particular, the chapter suggests that the discourse of ‘economic security’ ought to be used as a way of articulating a radical, robust and principled understanding of sustainable development, which offers a normatively compelling and policy-relevant path to outline a ‘green political economy’ to underpin sustainable development.

In recent years there has been much discussion about the relevance of the discipline of anthropology to the various emergent discourses on the environment. Among those researching in the area, reason for concern has been confirmed by a failure to make themselves heard as experts over the growing din of the other branches of social research passionately pleading the case for the relevance of their respective disciplines. This is evidenced to some degree by the lack of anthropological literature in the field of environmentalism and comes into stark relief when compared with the extensive treatment of the area given by the political sciences. This chapter seeks to focus on reactions by anthropologists to this dearth of environmentally concerned research within the discipline over the past decade. The debate over the issues raised by this discussion has evolved principally between a small number of dedicated anthropologists, and although it is now spilling out into the wider anthropological community, it is from these scholars work that a path forward has been constructed.

French environmental actors have suffered from long-term exclusion from policy-making. However, an increasingly precarious environmental movement continues to diversify its actions. The French political setting is also undergoing processes of decentralisation and Europeanisation. Moreover, French state–group relations are unravelling within a multi-level opportunity system as well as a continually transforming domestic environment under the pressure of European Union (EU) processes, polices and institutions. Drawing from empirical evidence on biodiversity conflicts, it is argued that the debate should move from a state-centric to a group/movement-centric approach.

Sustainable development may best be achieved by enhancing the commitment of local communities. Stewart and Hams (1991) argue that the requirements of sustainable development cannot merely be imposed but that active participation by local communities is needed. However, the terms ‘community’, ‘host community’ and ‘participation’ can be interpreted in a myriad of ways. Before entering a full discussion of host community participation in tourism planning, it is first necessary to explore the various potential interpretations of these terms and to define their meaning and function. This chapter therefore clarifies some of the issues surrounding the terms community, host, host community and participation. The major typologies and available models in relation to host communities’ participation in sustainable planning for tourism are also reviewed.

Grotesque wasting has been, and is, generated in a series of spatial levels or scales and in association with accelerated growth rates. A key political challenge for environmental sustainability in the approaching post–consumerist phase of globalisation is to innovate, plan and implement a fresh waste future as part of the wider evolving green revolution. This challenge of addressing the structures and practices of wasting can only be pursued through a multiplex response in production, governance, consumption patterns, scientific advances, national mindset and personal attitudes.

Cover of Global Ecological Politics
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Advances in Ecopolitics
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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