Environmentalism Promoting an ecological perspective
Ecological perspective Ecology is the study of connections between organisms (everything from humans to bacteria) and the elements that make living possible – air, water, food, etc.
History of environmental thought • 17th century efforts to control toxic releases from factories into the air. • 19th century scientists documenting acid rain and starting to track global climate change. • Early efforts to set up land reserves for wildlife.
Environmentalism as an ideology • Environmental policy agenda emerged in the 19th and early 20th century. • Environmentalism as an ideology and movement can be traced to the latter part of the 20th century, especially Earth Day 1971.
Environmentalism as a political party • In the 20th century, environmentalism emerged as a political party, the Greens. Powerful in Europe, especially Germany • U.S. Green Party successful in state elections; Presidential candidate Ralph Nader in 2000 won 2.8 million votes.
Green Party USA “The Greens/Green Party USA has been working since 1984 to make the hope of a more democratic, safer, cleaner world real. Our political goal is an America where decisions are made by the people and not by a few giant corporations. Our environmental goal is a sustainable world where nature and human society co-exist in harmony.” http://www.greenparty.org/
Basic Principles of Environmentalism • Ethical ecological stewardship • Respect for other species • Wilderness as spiritual haven • Human domination brings adverse consequences
Ecological stewardship idea • Humans have ethical obligations to nature, which limit what we do in nature. We are caretakers of the earth. Stewardship opposes “the assumption that ownership is an entitlement to total discretion over use.” • Aldo Leopold
Respect for other species idea • Human-centrism must end - the idea that humans are the masters of the universe who have a right to control it. Instead, there may be up to 30 million species, most of which are still unknown. • John Muir (1838-1914).
Muir in Yosemite Became known as the father of the National Park System
Wilderness as spiritual haven idea • Wilderness areas keep us in contact with nature, which is essential to a sense of well being. • Environmental degradation robs us of the wilderness as a spiritual haven. • Thoreau’s work at Walden Pond • Edward Abbey (1927-1989).
Edward Abbey & Monkey wrenching Abbey, opponent of Glenn Canyon Dam in Utah; author of TheMonkey Wrench Gang (1975). Monkey wrenching refers to efforts to sabotage machinery & stop development projects that adversely affect the environment
Adverse consequences to human efforts to dominate planet • Human efforts to master the environment lead to environmental crises, such as drought, pollution, desertification, floods, loss of ozone, climate change, etc.
Environmentalism triggers tension between North & South • Northern nations are industrialized & affluent. Southern are poorer, more populous and less industrialized. • The North got rich exploiting natural resources of the South. • Now the North seeks to restrict the South’s ability to exploit those same resources.
North-South Division Southern states, seeking to exploit their resources for economic development, say the North is hypocritical. South American rainforest
North-South Division One response to this dilemma used by the Nature Conservancy: to pay poor communities NOT to exploit their resources. The idea is this, that the cost of protecting the planet should not rest on poor communities, when everyone benefits.