Capitalism is the dominant global form of political economy. From business-as-usual resource extraction in the Global South to the full-scale takeover of the United Nations 2012 conference on Sustainable Development in Rio, Brazil by corporations advocating the so-called green economy, capitalism is also one of the two dominant modes of thinking about, experiencing, and apprehending the natural world. The other dominant mode is environmentalism. There are many varieties of environmentalism, but the dominant mode we refer to is “mainstream environmentalism.” It is represented by powerful nongovernmental organizations and is characterized by its closeness to power, and its comfort with that position. Th is form of environmentalism is a well-meaning, bolstered by science, view of the world that sees the past as a glorious unbroken landscape of biological diversity. It continuously works to separate people and nature, at the same time as its rhetoric and intent is to unite them. It achieves that separation physically, through protected areas; conceptually, by seeking to value nature and by converting it to decidedly concepts such as money; and ideologically, through massive media campaigns that focus on blaming individuals for global environmental destruction.
Capitalism and the Environment
Paige West and Dan Brockington
The persecution of ethnic and social minorities during the Second World War led to the creation of customary international human rights law. These laws serve to protect the fundamental rights and civil liberties of all individuals; even when a person is brought before a criminal court their right to justice will be protected. Through its immigration policies, the UK government aims to create a ‘hostile environment’. The detention of migrants has become the norm, and immigrants have been criminalized through the introduction of criminal offences including entering the UK on false or no documents. The increase in foreign nationals convicted of such criminal offences is portrayed as evidence that criminal migrants are a danger to public safety. Laws have been changed and the role of the courts to protect the rights of children to a family life eroded to further the hostile environment.
Spaces for Transdisciplinary Dialogues on the Relationship between Local Communities and Their Environments
The Case of a Rural Community in the Calchaquí Valley (Salta, Argentina)
Martha Crivos, María Rose Martínez, Laura Teves and Carolina Remorini
Our ethnographic research focuses on the perception and use of components of the natural environment in terms of routine activities carried out by the residents of a rural community in the Calchaqui Valley (Salta, Argentina). Life in this community is characterised by the presence of traditional subsistence activities – agriculture, cattle farming, textile manufacturing and ancestral medical practices – coexisting with business ventures focused on monoculture and export, tourism centred on landscape intervention and promotion of native products, and the growing key role of public policies in the areas of health and human development. In this context, a joint reflection on viability and sustainability of local and global practices and resources must be undertaken. Implementing intersectoral forums and focus-group discussions, governmental and non-governmental actors, researchers and local people must work conjointly to achieve a fresh patrimonial awareness of livelihood strategies based on their long interaction with a specific environment.
The Promise of “El uno por mil” in Ecuador’s Yasuní-ITT Oil Operations
In 2013, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa announced the end of the Yasuní-ITT initiative. The initiative had proposed to combat climate change by not exploiting oil reserves in one section of the Yasuní National Park. Anticipating outcry, Correa promised that operations would affect less than one thousandth of the park, or “menos del uno por mil.” This article examines the role of numerical calculations in the governance of subterranean resources. Numbers do a particular kind of labor to rationalize the shift contained in the Yasuní-ITT initiative that rhetoric alone does not. Metrics such as el uno por mil constitute and translate between diverse realms of value. Yet, contrary to the assumption that numbers are derived from strictly technical, expert processes, I show how such metrics are fundamental to translations between incalculable matters of nature, the future, and the “good” when deployed in contests over the effects of oil on life.
Achieving Indigenous Environmental Justice in Canada
This article explores the potential for advancing environmental justice (EJ) theory and practice through engaging with Indigenous intellectual traditions. When EJ is grounded in Indigenous epistemological and ontological foundations, a distinct EJ framework emerges, leading to a deeper understanding of Indigenous EJ and to a renewed vision for achieving it. I highlight the emergence of the Anishinaabe philosophy referred to as mino-mnaamodzawin (“living well” or “the good life”), common to several Indigenous epistemologies, that considers the critical importance of mutually respectful and beneficial relationships among not only peoples but all our relations (including all living things and many entities not considered by Western society as living, such as water and Earth itself). Mino-mnaamodzawin is suggested as a foundational contributor to a new ethical standard of conduct that will be required if society is to begin engaging in appropriate relationships with all of Creation, thereby establishing a sustainable and just world.
Recent Research in Sustainable Consumption Policy and Practice
From Slow Food and farmers' markets to ecolabels and fair trade an unprecedented number of consumer-based alternative food movements have risen in response to concerns about the environmental and social effects of industrialized agriculture. Some research suggests that these movements are successful in their efforts to reconnect communities, demystify global food chains, and produce sustainable foods, which are healthier for the planet and human bodies. Yet other scholars argue that the contemporary focus on consumer responsibility in policy and practice indicates much more than a process of reflexive modernization. The devolution of responsibility to consumers and the dominance of market-based solutions, these scholars argue, reflect the growing influence of neoliberal environmental governance. From this perspective these movements are naive in their assumption that consumers have the power necessary to overcome the structural barriers that inhibit significant change. These critics argue that the focus on consumer responsibility excludes those without access to consumer choice, reproduces social hierarchies, and fails to deliver the political and redistributive solutions necessary to achieve sustainability. Drawing on research across the social sciences this article surveys the existing evidence about the effectiveness of consumer-based movements in their attempts to create sustainable food systems.
Toward a New Legally Oriented Environment at a Global Level
Giovanni Tartaglia Polcini
This article, conceived on an open-process approach, explains the Italian rule of law’s model promoted by Italy in multilateral and bilateral fora. The rule of law aims to counter the abuse of power by the authorities and to build a new legally oriented environment in a multilevel order. (The rule by law, however, may be used to oppress or discriminate against people and to avoid accountability under the guise of formality, legality, and legitimacy.) Furthermore, the rule of law is instrumentally valuable to economic sustainable growth in delivering concrete development. The Italian achievements are demonstrated by the experiences acquired in G20 anti-corruption initiatives that vouch for Italy’s legitimacy and credibility on priority areas related to the struggle against global crime, drugs, money laundering, and terrorism. Moreover, Italian juridical diplomacy for promoting the rule of law at the multilateral level is framed according to the guidelines of sustainable development and the protection of human rights.
A Synthesis and Evaluation of the Research
This article both synthesizes and critically evaluates a now large, multi-disciplinary body of published research that examines the neoliberalization of environmental regulation, management, and governance. Since the late 1970s, neoliberal ideas and ideals have gradually made their way into the domain of environmental policy as part of a wider change in the global political economy. While the volume of empirical research is now such that we can draw some conclusions about this policy shift, the fact that the research has evolved piecemeal across so many different disciplines has made identifying points of similarity and difference in the findings more difficult. After clarifying what neoliberalism is and explaining why the term 'neoliberalization' is preferable, the article analyzes the principal components and enumerates the social and environmental effects of this multifaceted process. By offering a comprehensive and probing survey of the salient literature, I hope not only to codify the existing research but also to guide future critical inquiries into neoliberal environmental policy.
SherriLynn Colby-Bottel, Joshua Reno, Tal Liron, Genevieve Lakier, Andrew Tarter, Adam Henne, Joseph Doyle Hankins, Peter Rudiak-Gould, Sharla Blank, J. Stephen Lansing, Alaka Wali, John Wagner, David Zurick, Robert Fletcher and Brian Grabbatin
BUTTON, Gregory, Disaster Culture: Knowledge and Uncertainty in the Wake of Human and Environmental Catastrophe
FALASCA-ZAMPONI, Simonetta, Waste and Consumption: Capitalism, the Environment, and the Life of Things
FIJN, Natasha, Living with Herds: Human-Animal Coexistence in Mongolia
GUNERATNE, Arjun, ed., Culture and the Environment in the Himalaya
HASTRUP, Frida, Weathering the World: Recovery in the Wake of the Tsunami in a Tamil Fishing Village
JOHNSTON, Barbara Rose, ed., Life and Death Matters: Human Rights, Environment and Social Justice
KIRBY, Peter Wynn, Troubled Natures: Waste, Environment, Japan
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RADEMACHER, Anne M., Reigning the River: Urban Ecologies and Political Transformation in Kathmandu
RUTHERFORD, Stephanie, Governing the Wild: Ecotours of Power
WALKER, Peter A. and Patrick T. HURLEY, Planning Paradise: Politics and Visioning of Land Use in Oregon