On 1 January 1999, the European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) was created. The currencies of 12 member countries of the European Union (EU) were first irrevocably fixed and then replaced by one European currency, the euro, earlier than the deadline of 1 July 2002. According to Article 2 of the Maastricht Treaty the aim of EMU is to promote ‘sustainable and non-inflationary growth respecting the environment, a high degree of convergence of economic performance, a high level of employment and of social protection, the raising of the standard of living and quality of life, and economic and social cohesion and solidarity among Member States.’ From this one may expect a positive relationship between EMU and the social environment.
Understanding Nature in Capitalism
James G. Carrier
This article addresses the relationship between enterprises in capitalist systems and people's understandings of activities concerning the environment. Two sorts activities are described, those intended to alleviate hunger and those intended to protect the environment. Both illustrate how the routine operation of those enterprises affects the ways that people perceive the world and problems in it, and how people are likely to evaluate activities that can address those problems. Such effects come about because normal commercial pressures make it likely that enterprises will present the surroundings and the problems that concern them in ways that stress certain aspects of and processes in the world, while slighting others. The result of those presentations is a simplified rendering of the surroundings that tends to encourage certain sorts of orientation and action rather than others. The relationship between these renderings and those orientations and actions is not, however, straightforward, and this article concludes with a consideration of the sorts of processes that can shape that relationship.
Land, Settler Colonialism, and Security for Indigenous Peoples
This article theorizes why Indigenous peoples’ security claims fail to be accepted by government authorities or incorporated into the security policies and practices of settler states. By engaging the concepts of securitization and ontological security, I explain how Indigenous peoples are unable to successfully “speak” security to the state. I argue that nondominant societal groups are unable to gain authoritative acceptance for security issues that challenge the dominant national identity. In effect, indigeneity acts an inhibiting condition for successful securitization because, by identifying the state and dominant society as the source of their insecurity, Indigenous peoples’ security claims challenge the ontological security of settler societies. Given the incommensurability of Indigenous and settler claims to authority over land, and the ontological relationship to land that underpins Indigenous identities and worldviews, the inhibiting condition is especially relevant with respect to security claims based on damage to the natural environment.
Un-Earthing an Epoch
Valerie Olson and Lisa Messeri
As “the Anthropocene” emerges as a geological term and environmental analytic, this paper examines its emerging rhetorical topology. We show that Anthropocene narratives evince a macroscale division between an “inner” and “outer” environment. This division situates an Anthropocenic environment that matters in the surface zone between Earth's subsurface and the extraterrestrial “outer spaces” that we address here. We review literature in the sciences and social sciences to show how contemporary environmental thinking has been informed by understandings of Earth's broader planet-scaled environmental relations. Yet, today's Anthropocene conversation draws analytic attention inward and downward. Bringing in literature from scholars who examine the role of the extraterrestrial and outer environmental perspectives in terrestrial worlds, we suggest that Anthropocenic theorizations can productively incorporate inclusive ways of thinking about environments that matter. We argue for keeping “Anthropocene” connected to its spatial absences and physical others, including those that are non-anthropos in the extreme.
Indigenous Resurgence, Decolonization, and Movements for Environmental Justice
This volume of Environment and Society aims to set forth a theoretical and discursive interruption of the dominant, mainstream environmental justice movement by reframing issues of climate change and environmental degradation through an anticolonial lens. Specifically, the writers for this volume are invested in positioning environmental justice within historical, social, political, and economic contexts and larger structures of power that foreground the relationships among settler colonialism, nature, and planetary devastation.
Putting the Right Price on Marine Environments?
Julian Clifton, Leanne C. Cullen-Unsworth and Richard K. F. Unsworth
The flow of ecosystem services from coral reefs, seagrass meadows and mangrove forests sustains the livelihoods of billions of people worldwide. Faced with the global degradation of marine and coastal ecosystems, policy makers are increasingly focusing on ecosystem service valuation techniques to encourage conservation and sustainable use of marine resources. Here we provide a review and synthesis of the available information on economic valuation techniques as applied to tropical marine habitats. Our study demonstrates the high variability and lack of consistency in outcomes from these studies. We conclude that, if the concept of ecosystem goods and services is to make a positive contribution towards managing the impacts of humans on the environment, then economic valuation approaches must reflect the inherent limitations of economic theory whilst emphasizing the complexity and heterogeneity of the natural environment and human decision making.
Geographical Indications, Rural Development, and the Environment
Fabio Parasecoli and Aya Tasaki
The article highlights relevant issues within the global debate on geographical indications, as they relate to food products. Geographical indications, a form of intellectual property designated by considering principally the place of origin of products, have become a hot topic among producers, activists, economists, and politicians worldwide. Commercial and legal issues related to them have generated complex negotiations in international organizations and national institutions, while their cultural aspects have stimulated theoretical debates about the impact of global trade on local identities. Geographical indications could become a valid tool to implement community-based, sustainable, and quality-oriented agriculture, depending on the sociopolitical environment and whether they are relevant for the producers involved, affordable in terms of administrative and management costs, and applicable on different scales of production. The article also explores the environmental impact of geographical indications and their potential in ensuring the livelihood of rural communities in emerging economies and promoting sustainable agricultural models.
Environment, Society, and Food
Rebecca Feinberg, Paige West and Dan Brockington
During the past two decades social scientists have paid an increasing amount of attention to the circulation of commodities and the effects that commodity production, distribution, and consumption have on social life (see Miller 1995). Today, social scientists are beginning to think carefully about the political ecologies of these same commodity circulations (see Bryant and Goodman 2004; Doane 2010; West 2012). We are exploring the environmental consequences of the creation, circulation, and consumption of commodities, the role of nature in shaping the commodity form, their circulation and resulting social life, and the broader political economy in which commodity circulation is found.
Capitalism and the Environment
Paige West and Dan Brockington
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.
Anna J. Willow
This article approaches environmentalism as a way of positioning ourselves in relation to the world around us. It traces transformations in how two prominent North American environmental groups—the Nature Conservancy and the Sierra Club—conceptualize environmentalism's objects, objectives, and ideal human-environment relationship. Historical narratives highlighting how and why these organizations have redrawn their conceptual maps demonstrate that while mainstream environmentalism's prevailing topology once placed humans apart from and above the environment, the contemporary movement appears to be approaching a more inclusive vision that admits humans as an integral part of the environment. Yet because including human activities and concerns within environmental agendas is neither free from pragmatic problems nor invulnerable to ideological challenges, the article also considers how the same broad conceptual trends that have facilitated the reconceptualization of human-environment relationships may also concurrently complicate it.