China is experiencing profound adverse environmental changes, many of them driven—and all exacerbated—by rapid economic growth. Attitudes toward the environment in China are ambiguous. Nevertheless, these attitudes are indicators of how the Chinese view the natural environment and how they are likely to behave toward it and respond to efforts to protect it. They are also important precursors to actions by the Chinese government to address environmental problems that affect the rest of the world. Environmental awareness and attitudes are associated with individuals' educational level, socio-economic status, living environment, and exposure to media. By understanding the Chinese view of the environment and the degree to which they prioritize it (or not) relative to other important issues, Chinese and international policymakers and stakeholders can enhance their capacity to perhaps start shifting these attitudes, values, and behaviors toward those that might do less harm to China's environment and the world's. This article reviews findings on environmental awareness, attitudes, and behaviors, and makes observations on their implications for environmental governance in China. Information is drawn from Chinese survey data, secondary Chinese-language sources, and related tertiary literature.
Empirical Analyses on the Complex Relationship between Postmaterialism, National Wealth, and Environmental Concern
Jochen Mayerl and Henning Best
This article examines cross-cultural differences in the value cluster of environmentalism and postmaterialism. Based on an extension of Ronald Inglehart’s “objective problems–subjective values” hypothesis, we posit different sources of postmaterialism and environmental concern in wealthy versus poor countries. We test hypotheses on the relationship between national wealth, postmaterialist values, and environmental concern using empirical data from the World Values Survey waves 5 and 6 and the International Social Survey Program 2010. Using multilevel regression models with cross-level interaction terms and country fixed effects, we show that the effect of postmaterialism on environmental concern is indeed moderated by national wealth: whereas there is a weak or even no effect in poorer countries, the relationship is substantial in wealthy countries. Therefore, we argue that individual postmaterialist values and environmental concern do in fact form a coherent structure in wealthy countries, but should be considered as isolated constructs in poorer countries.
William R. Jordan
Environmentalism has made much of the idea of community since Aldo Leopold proposed it as the crucial metaphor defining a healthy relationship between humans and the rest of nature. Community, however, far from being the solution to our environmental problems, is actually just a useful way of framing the problem. How, for example, do you form a working relationship with an ecologically obsolete system that owes nothing to you? The answer: You commit yourself to its restoration, cultivating a studied indifference to your own interests—a practice the author terms "holistic restoration."
Valuing Marginalized Environmental Knowledges in the Face of the Neoliberalization of Nature and Science
Brian J. Burke and Nik Heynen
Citizen science and sustainability science promise the more just and democratic production of environmental knowledge and politics. In this review, we evaluate these participatory traditions within the context of (a) our theorization of how the valuation and devaluation of nature, knowledge, and people help to produce socio-ecological hierarchies, the uneven distribution of harms and benefits, and inequitable engagement within environmental politics, and (b) our analysis of how neoliberalism is reworking science and environmental governance. We find that citizen and sustainability science often fall short of their transformative potential because they do not directly confront the production of environmental injustice and political exclusion, including the knowledge hierarchies that shape how the environment is understood and acted upon, by whom, and for what ends. To deepen participatory practice, we propose a heterodox ethicopolitical praxis based in Gramscian, feminist, and postcolonial theory and describe how we have pursued transformative praxis in southern Appalachia through the Coweeta Listening Project.
Educational Lessons from Meteorology, Ethnobotany, and Systems Ecology
The number of terms used for historically unrepresented types of knowledge in environmental management is large and growing. The emphasis on these “new” perspectives reflects a shift in how society values different ways of knowing. A primary reason behind this recognition of value is that fresh perspectives offer new problem framings, approaches to solutions, and linkages to other issues. Successes in collaborating across multiple knowledge domains have yielded new medicines, culturally appropriate regulations, and a better understanding of ecological dynamics, among others. These examples show the search for creative solutions cuts across disciplines, each of which has its own priorities, values, ethical practices, and approaches to knowledge creation. This review demonstrates how systems ecology, ethnobotany, and meteorology increase problem solving by legitimizing different ways of knowing. Pioneers in valuing nonscientific ways of knowing, they set the path forward for methods and theory used to inform research questions.
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.
The nonviolent resistance of a South Korean village against the construction of a naval base
Since 2007, a small fishing village on the island of Jeju in South Korea has been fighting the decision to build a naval base next door to a UNESCO biosphere reserve. This article takes a closer look at the civil disobedience movement, based on the author's primary observations and impressions. Furthermore, it analyzes the environmental, geostrategic, and economic arguments put forward by the government and the protesters' subsequent response. In this fight between David and Goliath, the Gangjeong protest, more than having the actual power to stop the construction, is an example of citizens from all walks of life no longer quietly accepting disregard for democratic values.
This paper analyzes public understanding and moral reasoning with regard to regulating nature, specifically, societal efforts to control an insect population. It presents a study of a Swedish case in which a biological insecticide has been used to fight mosquitoes to reduce the nuisance to the local population. This case involves conflicting values regarding environmental protection. People's right to outdoor life is placed in opposition to long-term risks to biodiversity. Through interviews with local residents, their deliberations on the spraying are analyzed, particularly concerning to what extent and how they describe the situation in moral terms, but also how they acknowledge and use scientific findings in their argumentation.
Karen Hébert, Joshua Mullenite, Alka Sabharwal, David Kneas, Irena Leisbet Ceridwen Connon, Peter van Dommelen, Cameron Hu, Brittney Hammons and Natasha Zaretsky
TSING, Anna Lowenhaupt. The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins
BIGGS, Reinette, Maja SCHÜLLER, and Michael L. SCHOON. Principles for Building Resilience: Sustaining Ecosystem Services in Social Ecological Systems
HELM, Dieter. Natural Capital: Valuing the Planet
KIRSCH, Stuart. Mining Capitalism: The Relationship between Corporations and Their Critics
KRÜGER, Fred, Greg BANKOFF, Terry CANNON, Benedikt ORLOWSKI, and E. Lisa F. SCHIPPER, eds. Cultures and Disasters: Understanding Cultural Framings in Disaster Risk Reduction
MCGREGOR, James H. S. Back to the Garden: Nature and the Mediterranean World from Prehistory to the Present
MOORE, Jason. Capitalism in the Web of Life: Ecology and the Accumulation of Capital
PIPER, Karen. The Price of Thirst: Global Water Inequality and the Coming Chaos
SCHNEIDER-MAYERSON, Matthew. Peak Oil: Apocalyptic Environmentalism and Libertarian Political Culture
The expansion and intensification of agriculture is a major driver of deforestation in tropical forests and for global climate change. However, over the past decade Brazil has significantly reduced its deforestation rates while simultaneously increasing its agricultural production, particularly cattle and soy. While, the scholarly literature primarily attributes this success to environmental policy and global economic trends, recent ethnographic depictions of cattle ranchers and soy farmers offer deeper insight into how these political and economic processes are experienced on the ground. Examples demonstrate that policy and markets provide a framework for soy farming and ranching, but emerging forms of identity and new cultural values shape their practices. This article argues that to understand the full picture of why Brazil’s deforestation rates have dropped while the agricultural industry has flourished, the culture of producers must be present in the analysis.