Field Paper Chapter II
Environmentalism Present: "The Price is Right"
In this chapter we explore current attempts to resolve the dilemma of finding a development path compatible with preservation of ecosystems and biodiversity, maintenance of environmental services and enhancement of social welfare using emergent theories of what have been variously called “eco-economics” (Funtowicz and Ravetz 1991, Daly, 1999; O’Connor 2000) or “ecological economics” (Costanza and Daly, 1991), “bio-nomics” (Rothschild 1992), “full cost accounting” (Bebbington et.al. 2001), “true cost economics” “environmental economics” (Sagoff, 1993, Turner, Pearce and Bateman 1993), Steady-State Economics (Daly, 1991); and “Green Economics” (Pearce, 1989, 1992), using concepts such as Uneconomic Growth (Daly, 1999) “Natural Capitalism” (Hawken et. al, 1999) “valuation of ecosystem services” (Costanza, 1997) “Sustainable Development” (WCED 1987, Lele, 1991, Munasinghe, 1993, Pearce and Atkins, 1998), “Green Development” (Adams, 1990) “Smart Growth” (APA 2002, Katz 2002, Downs 2004), and (as a backlash) "Wise Use" (proponents Gottlieb, 1989 and Arnold, 1995, critics Helvarg, 1994, , Brick 1995, Boston 1998 and Switzer 2001). It is argued that these and other linguistic attempts to bridge the gulf between traditional conceptions of ecological theory and triumphalist capitalist economic theory characterize “Environmentalism Present”, a movement distinct from the first wave of environmentalism that inspired the first Earth Day in 1970.
Where We Are (Introduction, pp. 2-12)
I. Ecology - Natural History (pp. 13 - 26)
Ecological Footprint Analysis
Loss of Ecosystem Services
Weapons of Mass Destruction
II. Production – Technology and Its SocioEconomic Relations (pp. 26 -37)
III. Cognition -- The Mental Realm of Ideas, Ethic, Myths and So On. (pp. 37 - 60)
Story Telling – Plurivocity vs. Grand Narratives
Capitalism: The Defining Myth of Our Age
The Market Approach
Econometric Models Driving Policy
The Economic Exit Strategy
Ecosystem Services and Industrial Ecology: The Materials Balance Approach
Environmental Ethics and Environmental Justice
The Neopopulist Approach and Participation : Who will the players be?
Problems with participation
The Brownlash: Anti-Environmentalism
IV. Reproduction – the home, labour, culture (skills and norms), laws and policies (pp. 60 - 63)
Laws and Policies
Acts as agreements to spend public money and as ways of influencing private expenditures by the public
V. Conclusion (pp. 63 - 66)
The third wave of environmentalism
Is there a need for Environmental Economics?
Oh Brave New World: On to Environmentalism Future
Where We Are
Environmental and Ecological consciousness go Main Stream
We’ve started the 21st century with a radically transformed consciousness about our relationship to our environment. The transformative image of our fragile “spaceship earth” (Fuller, 1963, Boulding, 1965) as seen from the sterile landscape of the moon in 1969 is now a comfortable part of “mother culture consciousness”. (Cosgrove, 1994, Bryant, 1995, Bell, 2004) Almost every book store carries and displays child-friendly enviro-education materials such as “50 Things you can do to Save the Earth”, and environmentalism has gone “mainstream” with Earth Day and Earth Week activities sponsored by major industries and utility companies.
Issues such as global warming are so well diffused that they even form part of the normal dialogue in teen slasher/horror movies such as “I Still Know What You Did Last Summer.” The movie industry has made heroes and household names out of environmental justice crusaders like Erin Brokavich, while blockbuster adventure films like the Clive Cussler hit “Sahara” detail how the dark side of globalization has turned third world countries like Africa into the dumping ground for illegal toxic waste. U.S. President George Bush admits “The policy in the past used to be, let's just accept tyranny and for the sake of... you know, my cheap oil or whatever it may be, and just hope everything would be okay” – something "the right" has been denying for years -- but vows we've learned from 9/11 and won’t do it again. School children in Egypt and Kuwait (even members of the Sabah oil family!) sing songs about the problems caused by oil and the possibilities of renewable energy systems; Dyak tribesmen participate in International conferences about deforestation where they blame unsustainable agricultural and forestry practices used by the Indonesian government and foreign companies for the tremendous forest fires of the 1990s and accuse the media for scapegoating them with stories about their slash and burn systems of swidden agriculture getting out of control because of El Nino weather systems (Samsoedin, pers.com) Indigenous peoples form alliances with the Eco-village network and talk about a resurgence of nomadism and tribalism enhanced by 21st century modular portable subsistence technologies (Angaangaq a.ka. “Uncle” 2002a and pers. comm.); telecommunications and energy companies exploit this imagery in glossy magazines by advertising Bedouins with camel mounted solar panels and nomadic hunters with cell phones. Major agro-industrial corporations talk about the benefits of permaculture, General Electric advertises Green Energy and Clean Coal, and the major oil companies have changed their names, becoming “energy companies” with friendly sobriquets such as “BP – Beyond Petroleum” and “Shell Solar”. Coca Cola, a firm boasting that it operates in 200 countries (“more than the UN itself”!) is now working with NGO’s such as the World Wildlife Fund, CARE and agencies of the UN to clean up its tarnished image as a company that has been “aggravating the growing global problem of freshwater scarcity” and, in India at least, is even promising to “capture enough water via ‘rainwater harvesting’ to offset all of its water use by 2006.” (The Economist, October 8th-14th, 2005, p. 69) Major auto companies tout the coming fuel cell revolution, Republican governor Arnold Schwarzenegger inaugurates California's "Hydrogen Highway" and almost all big polluting firms now have advertising departments dedicated to bringing the elusive carrot of clean industry ever closer (some would say keeping it thus ever more tantalizingly just out of reach.) From a rhetorical perspective it would appear that environmentalism has won and all we have to do now is implement the great world saving ideas…
It is hard to know where, in this post-modern world of accelerated change and multi-cultural hybridity, “Environmentalism Past” ended and “Environmentalism Present” began, to say nothing of how to define the tidal wave of changes in environmental perception that is washing over us even as we speak. For organizational purposes, however, we define “Environmentalism Present” as the period beginning with what Kay Milton calls “The Second Wave” of modern environmentalism (Milton, 1995). This wave had its genesis in the late 1980s when a United Nations appointed World Commission on Environment and Development, headed by Gro Harlem Brundtland (WCED 1987) published a book called “Our Common Future” which summarized the “Brundtland report” for the public. The key concept of that report was its stress on the interdependence of “ecology” and “economy” and its notion that problems in both arenas needed to be (and possibly could be) solved together (Kaarhus 1996:65)
Our common future” ushered in a key conceptual term that has become the uneasy meeting ground for the traditional enemies of the first wave of environmentalism – “sustainable development”. Seen by some as one of the world’s most intractable oxymorons, “sustainable development” was defined as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” (United Nations World Conference Environment and Development, 1987, p. 8). The needs of the present were generally broken down into economic, social and environmental needs (see Goodland, 1995, for a table comparing these three forms). The logic of a general sustainability in a contentious field of competing interests, each vying for their own individual sustainability, has made for rich debates as interested parties each try to push the long term viability of their own interests ahead of the others; as Eugene Guribye (2000) says “It has been a source of debate whether priority is given to the sustainability of the environment or the sustainability of the economic system which was part of the environmental problems in the first place”.
What characterizes Environmentalism Present?
What I feel distinguishes Environmentalism Present from Environmentalism Past is the complexity and interdependence of its arguments, occurring in a globalized, interconnected post-colonial, post-feminist, post-modern context. During the era of what I’ve described as Environmentalism Past the dominant notion of organizational change was linear, following a progressive “era-by-era paradigm displacement theory” (Drucker, 1957; Boje, 1995). The era-by-era theory would enable a paper like this to suggest a teleological story of humanity’s climb from ignorance to enlightenment with environmental degradation (the "price of progress") followed by environmental improvements occurring every generation alongside “take-offs to sustainable development” (Rostow, 1956, 1960) that themselves were occurring with the frequency of airliners leaving LAX. Development was supposed to be accompanied by an “environmental Kuznets curve” that almost guaranteed things would get better once everyone got richer through the adoption of a grow first clean up later environmental strategy (Andreoni, J. and Levinson A. 2001; Panayatou, 1993, Panayatou et. al. 2000) .
Instead, today we see a complexified world of human and non-human relations that conforms more to a theory of “hegemonic struggle among multiple discourses for dominance and survival”. According to this model of discursive analysis “the basic elements get shifted between foreground and background, without being vanquished” and contemporary organizations demonstrate "the active (spontaneous, aggressive, expansive, form-giving) and reactive (countervailing, taming, remedial) struggle of pre-modern, modern, and post-modern discourses” all the while attempting to “reorganize and re-territorialize their rivals in ways that reconstruct business as usual”. Each borrows words like diversity, voice and empowerment from rival discourses and redefines them “to fit the status quo.” (Boje, 1995, p.5). Nowhere does reality conform to any given "master narrative." As Curry (1999) points out,
The reason is that any perception, assertion, valuation and meaning of it is unavoidably only one among many others, none of which are self-evidently true, let alone their implications. And all of them are unavoidably contingent (partial, local, unstable) - which is not to say subjective - and competing in a complex economy of counter-claims, including counter-values, all with actual or potential winners and losers (relatively speaking, as always).
Environments of the 21st century as Anthropogenically Co-constructed Spaces
Nobody can deny the human impact on the earth (Thomas, 1956, Turner II, 1991, Meyer, 1996) – where once it was alleged with astonishment that only the great wall of China could be seen from outer space (it couldn’t – at least not by the naked eye; see Arnold, 1989) we now have satellite images detailing our anthropogenic modifications of the entire planet (El-Baz, 1997). Any schoolchild can log into Google Earth and look at updated hi-resolution satellite images of their own back yard – a NIMBY informational triumph if ever there was one (with enticing populist possibilities for the NIABY movement! See Ford, 2003). We can see deforestation and siltation and urban sprawl. But there is still vast disagreement as to whether that impact has an overall positive or negative value on aggregate human welfare (Chen and Ravallion, 2004); as Meyer points out "change is not a synonym for damage" (Meyer, Ibid., p.3) -- habitat and non-human species loss would seem uncontestable (but see Leach and Mearns 1996); despite the 1992 "Scientist's Warning to Humanity" there is still uncertainty in the business community whether or not we should “stay the course” (as Bush Sr. was fond of advising) or change the status quo.
The question in Environmental Present, however, is no longer whether we should clean our environment and preserve our wildlife – these are the friendly green givens since Rio – but rather a question of hard nosed choices: which policy tools should we use, how much should we rely on regulations and how much on free market clearance, how much will it cost, who will pay, what are our priorities and what are we willing to sacrifice? Environmental Present is overwhelmingly governed by cost/benefit analyses, and different parties see different costs and different benefits all relative to their current position so the balance sheet is never clear. In a seminar at the UCLA School of Public Policy on January 9, 2001 moderated by former Governer Michael Dukakis, former Republican Senator Larry Pressler (South Dakota) and former Democratic Congressman Bob Carr (Michigan) both agreed that “everyone wants a clean and healthy environment” but they disagreed radically on how to achieve this. They couldn't even agree that there was an optimal mix of policy tools that would provide Jeremy Bentham's "greatest good for the greatest number". With the collapse of the Soviet Union as a counterweight, the illusion of a United States, a European Union and even a United Nations has been shattered into a plurality of views that describe a planet filled with loosely federated group of special interests that transcend regional, state or national boundaries. As Economist Herman Daly (1999) told his audience at Trinity College in Dublin in a speech on "Uneconomic Growth", globalization is much different than internationalization; it erases such qualities as comparative advantage and regional self interest that would allow for good governance. What are left are competing transnational companies that many see running in a race to the bottom, or "low world average," for ever higher profits. Daly said,
"By globalizing, we take away from nation states their ability to enforce and to enact the policies necessary to internalize external costs, to control population, to do the things that are necessary. We enter into a regime of standards-lowering competition in which trans-national corporations are able to play off one government against another in an attempt to get the lowest possible social and environmental costs internalized into their product and production." (p. 14)
It is as though, in the drive to privatize the commons, we have lost our sense of the common interest.
On the bright side, we don't all live in a black and white world. We don't live in the either/or world of the "modern era" but are beginning to embrace the postmodernist's liberating "both-and-also" through what UCLA's Ed Soja calls "trialectics", a spatialized form of dialectics that deprivileges the temporal and the notion of a master text (Soja, 1996). For example, in the fantasy of certain free market economists "command and control" was supposedly doomed eventually to give way to "free market" strategies, just as in the Marxist fantasy capitalism was doomed to give way to socialism. We now see that these are no irreconcilably polar opposites, and we are now nuanced enough to know, for example, that the WTO is happy to use command and control policies (coercion) to open up a free market for G8 countries, we can have free market policies in communist China, and that we can openly use the visible hand of public funds to subsidize the fossil fuel and nuclear and automobile industries to keep them competitive so the "invisible hand" that emerges from "unfettered" competition can do its magic. Environmentalism Present adds "stimulating confusion" (Ibid) to past assumptions, and seems to be a free-for-all where power holders and resistors can use any argument or epistemology that suits them (see Biodiversity section) . Meanwhile, for those who ignore the insights of De Certeau (1984) and who do cling to "the myth of the monumental" the military logic of triage and sacrifice zones has permeated environmental policy as the “realists” or “progressives” determine that it will be “impossible” to save all endangered life forms and habitats and maintain economic growth, even though, as Clinton told us in his last State of the Union address, we can have both. Optimism on the biodiversity front is considered hopelessly unrealistic. Bush's appointee entrusted with the Endangered Species act has publicly stated that hundreds of species will go extinct. Even Greenpeace is making corporate alliances to “sauve qui peut” (see Beder, 1999 “From Green Warriors to GreenWashers).
Among the profit sharers the old notion that "whatever the costs to biodiversity, habitat and healthy surroundings 'this is the price of progress'" is still alive and well, only this time the price is being paid in somebody else’s backyard, out of sight and out of mind; for some, like Larry Summers of the World Bank, this is rational and is the way things ought to be. To calm today's losers, the promise of a future if forestalled share in the global pie is sweetened by a neoliberal economics utopianism that all prices are dropping – just be patient (for this see Julian Simon, 1981). More pessimistic apologists for the losses in social and environmental welfare due to past structural adjustments – even those who predict austere times ahead -- still argue that though the big flood is coming, the rising tide will continue to lift all boats, even the makeshift and leaky Arks of our dwindling wildlife refuges and marginalized human settlements. This is of course, “provided that increasing technological progress compensates for declining natural resource stocks”… (Stiglitz, 1974)
The point of Environmental Present is that there is no single ruling paradigm, and all voices are welcome to express their opinions, from rain forest villagers and Eskimo elders to NGO spokeswomen, government ministers and industry leaders and even the man on the street. But, of course the hegemonic discourse of "the bottom line" will prevail, as it alwayshas. Your job as a gladiatorial participatory stakeholder is simply to try to make your argument stronger than the next fellow's and join the good fight.
And still, the empire is preparing to strike back.
As ecological consciousness has spread, there has been what critics call a “brownlash” – (Beder 1998; Ehrlich 2002; Stauber and Rampton, 1995) or “green backlash” (Rowell, 1996), or even a "war against the greens" (Helvarg,1994). This is an industry and political backlash against “green” activism. Far more dangerous than a battle of words and ideas, the brownlash includes a casting of any meaningful ecological activism as a species of terrorism, and in the “war on terror” eco-saboteurs are considered by an FBI report to be little different from Al-Qaeda (Jarboe, 2002), (though even the most radical have never taken any lives, restricting themselves to property damage - usually in defense of a legally protected area or endangered species. See Vanderheiden, 2005). But this is because true exposure of the Costs of Environmental Degradation and a real purposeful attempt to enforce their internalization would deliver "the coup de grace" to Capital that would allegedly end profits as we've come to know them (Wallerstein, 1997). So industry has to fight, and fight hard. But some new cleaner industries are gaining competitive advantage by complying with environmental standards, particularly those in the European Union and Japan, so it is unclear that every industry will fight environmental compliance. However, new clean industries are threatening dinosaur industries with vested interests in older technology so the fight is going on on many fronts during this time of "Power shift". (Toffler, 1970, 1981, 1990) For example, at a time when at least one highly industrialized first world nation (Germany) has mainstreamed and mobilized its effective “green party” and is pushing environmentalism into the European Union agenda and, through technical extension, into third world countries, American historians are busy unearthing radical green elements in previous unpopular ideological struggles (communism, fascism). They are misquoting founding Green Party member and ecologist Herbert Gruhl, (author of “Ein Planet wird geplündert” (A Planet is being plundered): The Balance of Terror of Our Politics” 1975, called by some "The German Edward Goldsmith") and Rudolph Bahro so as to vilify them as fascists, (even calling the latter “the green Adolph”! – see Orton, 2005), they are making a big deal out of the so-called "green wing" of past German National Socialism and the “immanent” nature philosophy of a Heidegger “now revealed to be a Nazi”, and they are then producing cautionary tales about the dangers of environmentalism as contemporary “ecofascism” (Bookchin, 1987, Biehl and Staudenmaier, 1995, Zimmerman, 1996).
“During the Third Reich… Nazi "ecologists" even made organic farming, vegetarianism, nature worship, and related themes into key elements not only in their ideology but in their governmental policies. Moreover, Nazi "ecological" ideology was used to justify the destruction of European Jewry. Yet some of the themes that Nazi ideologists articulated bear an uncomfortably close resemblance to themes familiar to ecologically concerned people today.” (Biehl, 1995)
Smear campaigns like these undermine confidence in nations or mainstream movements that adopt a strong green ethic and create an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty about who to follow when seeking political solutions to eco-catastrophes. In fact, Orton, (2000) has stated that the legitimate use of the term "eco-fascism" applies to Arnold and Gottlieb and their "Wise Use Movement" followers who target environmentalists with "vigilante-style tactics ranging from telephone death-threats to arson and shootings." "Wise Use" ideas are now mainstream in the Bush Administration.
Popular writers and film-makers from Michael Crichton (State of Fear) to Robert Ludlum (The Lazarus Vendetta) now cast environmental groups as “eco-villains”. In both books enviro-terrorists hijack dangerous technology (such as the military’s HARP system in Crichton’s thriller and nanophage biotechnology in Ludlum’s) to cause ersatz natural disasters that can be blamed on human activity so they can either prove the point that natural disasters are no longer natural or to create “a vastly depopulated world that [the eco-terrorists] can redesign into an environmental paradise…” In these fictions, replete with lengthy appendices of citations from scientific journals helping to blur fact and fantasy, it is the environmentalist wackos who are now taking lives to protect the greater good. It makes the head spin just to think about it.
But spin is what Environmentalism Present is all about (Beder, 1997). The gains of the first wave of environmentalism created awareness and spawned regulations that have constrained the free-wheeling activities of many businesses. There have been some closures of factories, some businesses have had to relocate and many have complained their profits are threatened by a “polluter pays” attitude that is gaining ground. Some land has been “protected” from exploitation and somechemicals and practices have been banned. For those whose profits are made by externalizing negative residuals or receiving free subsidies from Nature, this has had an impact. But Capital has an AIDS-like ability to change its coat, re-invent itself and mutate to adapt to any threat; many economists (Jafee, 1995) are now saying that environmental regulations and policies as often increase profits as diminish them. In Environmental Present there doesn't seem to be any consistent storyline at all.
Boje (op.cit: 6) reminds us that Lyotard (1984) helped us to see each individual as being located in the center of a multiplicity of communication circuits and language games, while Jameson (1983) and Clegg (1989) focused on the interrelationship, interpenetration and interplay of multidiscursive struggles and “circuits of power” that simultaneously co-opted and appropriated one another. Jameson said,
“Radical breaks between periods do not generally involve complete changes of content, but rather the restructuration of a certain number of elements already given: features that in an earlier period or system were subordinate now become dominant, and features that had been dominant again become secondary” (Jameson, 1983: 123)
In environmentalism present this is certainly the case. New spins on ecologic and economic ideas are crossing the ranks from camp to camp. Even as a new breed of environmental economists emerges armed with the instruments of the “dismal science” (the derogatory name Thomas Carlyle (1849) gave to economics allegedly after reading Malthus – actually it was the field’s emancipatory tendency to treat all beings as equal that he found dismal! See Levy and Peart, 2001) to green the economy (Sarraf and Larsen, 2002, 2004a) , a new breed of “skeptical environmentalists” is also emerging, using the rhetoric of ecological science to insist that “there is nothing rotten in the state of Denmark” so to speak, and that we now have authority from natural science to keep on doing business as usual (see Lomborg, 2001) Postmodern deconstructionist critiques of the epistemologies underlying modernist assumptions strike at the heart of progressives and recidivists alike, twisting and enfolding narratives into such a jumble that it is hard to know who stands for what (Zimmerman, 2003, Kassiola, 2003).
Today’s environmentalists and market liberals alike twist and turn the logic from Natural Science to their own ends, “Necker-cubing” (Dawkins, 1976) from short term to long term effects. And still the power holders prevail. When defending a given subsidy to a dirty dinosaur industry (coal, for example) where there are entrenched vested interests, we are morally persuaded that we should not impose hardship on coal miners or coal mine owners (the old 'jobs vs. the environment' dualism), but at the same time we are told that in the name of market efficiency it is perfectly alright to cut subsidies to wind energy farms (to hell with the wind farmers) because over the long run the market alone should determine the competitiveness of energy options. And yes, we all agree that subsidies are a bad thing, so just give us time to "phase out" the old ones; no sense in complicating things and distorting the market by introducing new ones! Justice is meted out with preference to the powerful.
In the debate over biodiversity loss the logic is even more insidious. The Bush administration's top two appointees in charge of the Endangered Species Act, Secretary of Interior Gale Norton, and Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Fish, Wildlife and Parks Craig Manson told the L.A. Times (November 14, 2003) that "the interests of developers should often prevail over endangered species" and "the Bush administration… does not believe all species should be saved from extinction and…it does not believe there is an extinction crisis."
Manson was quoted as telling the Times,
"If we are saying that the loss of species in and of itself is inherently bad – I don't think we know enough about how the world works to say that…"
In a follow up interview with Grist Magazine (April 15, 2005) Manson, the man responsible for species protection in the U.S., elaborated on this uncertainty, ironically accusing environmentalists (elsewhere represented as unorthodox radicals) of being too conservative and unwilling to "question the orthodoxy of anything":
"…the orthodoxy is that every species has a place in the ecosystem and therefore the loss of any species diminishes us in some negative way. That's the orthodoxy. Now that certainly has validity with respect to most things, maybe almost everything. But it is a presumptuous thing to suggest that we know for sure that that is a fact. And it sort of flies in the face of Darwinian science…"
In Manson's slippery defense of the concept of "survival of the fittest" he went on to say that if the environment changes and an organism can't keep up then we can't say if its loss was good or bad. This, we must remember, is coming from an administration that claims Darwin's theory is false to begin with, and supports teaching Creationism (now called "Intelligent Design') in the schools. Yet they don't mind using a Spencerian view of Darwinian logic to defend policies resulting in "more species loss in the last several decades than have been lost cumulatively in the last several millennia" (Grist, p. 2). The scientists tell us "everything goes extinct naturally anyway" and the pro-business Bush administration uses this "truth" as a justification for species loss. Somehow that same rule doesn't permit us to tolerate the loss of uncompetitive, unsustainable businesses…
The administration of the world's most powerful and influential nation, masters of Orwellian Newspeak, are quite willing, when it suits them, to use the very science whose validity the administration disputes; they are also clever enough to leap into a form of cautious deconstructivist logic when the actual scientific evidence threatens business as usual. In this post-Kuhnian world, where everything is suspect, Manson's response to the fact that "studies show that the rate of extinction directly correlates to the rate of industrial development and population growth" is as insidious as his post-modern attempt to demolish "orthodoxy", but is cleverly disguised to suggest that his actually appears the more "orthodox" or "responsible" scientific attitude. He said,
"The most that one could say on that evidence is that there may be some connection. And it is a logical fallacy to suggest that because two things happen concurrently that they are necessarily related, without further evidence."
This is the same stall tactic the Bush camp uses to avoid compliance with the Kyoto protocol. In his Alice and Wonderland way, Manson is talking about the difference between a correlation and a statistically significant regression, of course. But he conveniently leaves out the fact that in these studies the statistics have been done, and the correlation was found highly significant, and that is why so many of the world's leading scientists issued their "Warning to Humanity" in 1992…
Ecology in the service of Industry?
One of the great ecological insights of the latter half of the twentieth century has been that the environment itself is constantly changing, that the natural world is a dynamic, not a static place, a landscape of short term and long term evolutionary changes where the story of life is being incessantly rewritten. This information, while useful for ecologists to understand the processes of change, is being abused by industry and governments to permit a reprieve for the “laissez faire” or “anything goes” policy.
Gone are the days when rain forests and coral reefs and other so-called “pristine environments” can be talked about by serious scholars as primeval untrammeled wildernesses that provide a window into “the way the world looked before human beings messed everything up” (see Gomez Pompa and Kaus. 1998: “Taming the Wilderness Myth”). It is now recognized, at least in scientific circles, that “nature” is a world in flux and that “change is the only constant”. This does not mean that there are not ecosystems with extremely long cycles of nutrient turnover or that there aren’t organisms and symbiotic associations that haven’t endured in form and function for eons (Callicott, 1998; Waller, 1998). “Climax ecosystems” do exist as semi-stable assemblages of species that function well until the next disturbance takes place. But the notion of nature as a static backdrop against which human rates of change stand out as an “un-natural” anathema has been replaced by the concept of a “restless earth” on which a dynamic drama of co-evolution is played out every day (Calder, 1972). In fact, says Wallerstein (1997) :
“The entire process of the universe is of course one of unceasing change, so the mere fact that things are not what they were previously is so banal that it merits no notice whatsoever” (p. 1)
But this is not to say that we shouldn’t resist changes that are antithetical to our moral and existential health cautions Wallerstein -- as long as we can resist the essentialist and dualist tendencies to play the dangerous game of “jobs vs. romanticism”, “humans versus nature” or “the virtues of nature versus the evils of science”. Environmental Present “presumes that there is never any system that can realize fully all these sets of values simultaneously” (Ibid, p.6) but argues that we can adopt a “Third Space” perspective on things (Soja, 1996) that resists such easy dichotomies and still be “substantively rational” so as to make wise choices.
Post-modern writers on environmental thought (Ignatow, 2005) have abandoned the idea that “man” stands apart from the rest of nature, and universities now offer courses on “industrial ecology” and “urban ecosystems” in which the human built environment is considered to be little different from the termite mound or beaver dam and all ecological considerations revolve around the “assimilative and regenerative capacities” of the cyborg biological-mechanical hybrid systems humans and their symbionts have created (for discussion of this hybrid cyborg reality, see Donna Haraway, 1991).
Current environmental thought embraces the view of a non-essentialist socially constructed nature (Berger and Luckmann, 1966, Proctor, 1966, Worster, 1977, Cronon, 1996, Escobar, 1999) and it is this perspective that has inserted itself into the debate on sustainable development, mixed-use conservation policies, biosphere reserves and buffer zones, protected area management, political ecology, poverty alleviation strategies, resource management and the like. But it is not without its dangers. Wapner (2002) raises the concern that “Recent postmodern international relations (IR) scholarship threatens to undermine global environmental protection efforts” and asks,
How can societies protect the nonhuman world if the very identity of that enterprise is cast into doubt? How can states cooperate to protect nature if the meaning of the term is socially and historically contingent?
While Environmentalism Past decried the alienation of man and nature as antecedent to the causes of environmental destruction (White Jr., 1967) Environmental Present is a challenge precisely because it has re-inserted human agency into nature and defined it as “natural” (therefore desirable? Benign?) without clear models of how human industry fits into ecology.
Just another animal with especially destructive predispositions?
In the last chapter I described a dichotomous debate about the trends we see in nature and how it led to a species of environmentalism that was essentialist and thus easily marginalized. The dominant figures in the debate – Paul Ehrlich, Garrett Hardin, Donella Meadows and the Club of Rome, E.O. Wilson, Norman Myers, Sandra Postel et. al. were caricatured as peddlers of “doom and gloom” because they argued that “natural systems” were in collapse due to human activity and that “natural resources” were diminishing. This “pessimistic” view suggested to some that nature could only abide in “set asides”; its proponents tended to regard areas of human encroachment as worlds without nature. The Cartesian dichotomy of Environmentalism Past was “nature good/humans bad”. Another, more “optimistic” view – following Rene Dubos, Buckminster Fuller and other technological utopianists -- argued that we are a part of nature, and that nature and human development suffer no essential estrangement. This view suggested that if we could just model our industrial and urban systems after ecosystems we could continue to derive use values from nature without dire consequences. In a strange way, by erasing the dualism that Lynn White Jr. called one of “the Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis” this optimistic view attempted to resolve the tensions in the orthodox Judeo-Christian view that nature exists to be utilized for human advancement. The first view had argued that we weren’t placed here by God to dominate Nature, but acted as though there will still an Eden to spoil and that we were responsible for the spoiling. The second view agreed that we weren’t placed here by God to subdue Nature but felt we could still use our special intelligence to exploit Nature without getting thrown out of The Garden. It is the former view whose obituary has been written in the now famous tome “The Death of Nature” (McKibben, 1989)
For the purpose of this paper I consider the main discourse in “environmentalism present” to be about the triumph of the latter view, confirmed by a recent internal document called “The Death of Environmentalism” (Shellenberger and Nordhaus, 2004) that has been ruffling feathers since it was released at an October 2004 meeting of the Environmental Grant-Makers Association. The ethos of Environmentalism Present mirrors the triumphalism of capitalist thinkers who have likewise declared Communism and Socialism dead since the fall of the Berlin Wall (they aren’t!). Of course these are all simplifications – actually gross distortions – all the previous forms of resistance to one hegemonic world view are alive and well. In fact today’s master narrative is all the more powerful for its seeming willingness to include marginalized voices! Says Thachankary (1992:231) “The notion of plurivocity, that there are multiple meanings in the story, is very empowering, because it gives organizational participants considerable flexibility to create their own interpretation of what is going on.” The problem is that it is chiefly empowering to the power holders, who can claim there is no repression, no conspiracy, because, hey, we even have a staff environmentalist…
Truth still speaks to power (Foucault, 1979, Lasswell, 1971; Forester, 1989, Hoppe, 1999, Funtowicz, 2004), and definitions are used for political purposes -- assimilation, exclusion, and ultimately control. And since the collapse of the Soviet Union Capitalism has not only assumed larger proportions, but redefined itself yet again to embrace or spin those ecological insights that can be used to prop itself up.
Environmentalism Present exists in a climate where “free-market” environmentalism has “become part of the mainstream” (Anderson and Leal 2001; Shaw and Anderson 2005; Stroup, 2005) and defenders of “untrammeled wilderness” and “gentle ways of living in harmony with nature” are left clutching at what they are told are socially constructed straws. It is a time when “emissions trading”—paying others not to pollute so you can continue to do so – even if they weren’t polluting in the first place -- is seen as a viable way to privatize the commons and thus end its “tragedy” (Hardin1968; Gardiner, 2001) The major institutions of the Capitalist Economy – the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, blamed for so many disastrous environmental policies and for the deleterious effects of structural adjustment during the first wave of environmentalism, are now putting on a big show of rushing to correct the errors of their past, using funding incentives to push a new sustainability agenda that uses more sophisticated modeling methodologies to ascertain the “costs of environmental degradation” and the “costs of inaction” (Arif, 2003). The Economist runs cover stories with titles such as “Environmental Economics: Rescuing Environmentalism”, lauding this “new green revolution”, a species of environmentalism that, we are told, finally makes sense (The Economist, Apr 21st 2005) . The editors applaud what they want us to believe is the final and correct form of the movement with its attempt to capture in dollar figures everything from direct use values of Nature and indirect use values of Nature (ecosystem services and subsidies from nature) to “Existence Values”. The spin doctors seeking to write a new hegemonic master narrative want to construct the illusion of an economy in which humans can continue to pursue their self-interest, but this time be guided by an invisible hand wearing “a transparent glove” of appropriate (read “profit permissive”) rules, norms, and institutions that ensure full disclosure and encourage stakeholder participation in all environmental policies (Florini,1999). In this way it is thought that human activities can at last work in harmony with nature.
All this may also turn out to be completely untrue. If the Ecosystem Model that subtends our attempt to fit into Nature’s Economy is itself valid, and we are “merely” a part of the Natural Cycles of Evolution and not the descendants of special creation, guided by intelligent design, we may very well simply drive ourselves to extinction in a very short period of time, following the vast majority of other mere life forms on this restless, directionless planet. In this case the entire debate, to paraphrase Shakespeare, will have been "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."
I. Ecology - Natural History
State of the World 2005 –
“…ask yourself, are you better off than you were 4 years ago?” Ronald Reagan, debate with Jimmy Carter, 1980.
“The largest generation of young people in human history – 1.7 billion people aged 10-24, projected to approach 1.8 billion by 2015 – is now reaching reproductive age. The number of women already aged 15-49 is at an all time high at 1.55 billion and could increase to 1.82 billion by 2015…” (Engeleman et. al., 2002, p. 139)
Let’s forget for a moment where we’ve been. Let’s forget about where we might be going. Let’s simply imagine we woke up in the world as it is today, like a modern day Rip Van Winkle, or like the botanist and the narrator in H.G.Wells A Modern Utopia, or indeed like any of the storytellers of 500 years worth of utopian plots who suddenly appear in a given society alien to them and which they must interpret for outsiders. Objectively then, what is the State of the World? Is it “just fine” as Bjorn Lomborg contends in “The Skeptical Environmentalist”, is it a eutopia, or is it a dystopian nightmare, as many doom and gloomers contend?
Given our initial premise of following David John Frank’s Ecosystem Model of the Universe (see Chapter I), we see that for some organisms Earth is truly an eutopia –if only for the present: for the people of earth in high income brackets, for dogs and cats, pigeons, sparrows, members of the Poaceae (grasses, including grain crops like wheat, rice, corn and oats) for many dipteran and hymenopteran insects, many bacteria and viruses and protozoans, most r-selected fast reproducing opportunistic species, for the handful of plants in the global commodity chain and in common landscape and ornamental use (Pollan, 1992, 2001), and, arguing from population size and reproduction alone, from the perspective of cows and chickens and other domestic livestock and pet animals (for this argument read Budiansky, 1992 Why Animals Chose Domestication) these are the best of times. Furthermore, if you are a predator or parasite on any of these organisms, life is a gravy train. Engelman et. al. (2002) argue, for example
“Epidemiologists increasingly see hints of the overarching impact of population growth on the spread of infectious disease, as greater density boosts exposures, and shortens transmission distance, making life easier for the organisms that spread infections.” (p. 135).
Yes, life is indeed easier for certain populations of humans and non-humans.
For other organisms – the poor of Homo sapiens, the disenfranchised and psychologically stressed and alienated, for most large mammals and other slow reproducing K-selected species of animal, and for the prey and hosts of certain predators and parasites, this is a terrible planet to be on right now. So it really depends on what niche you occupy in the complex geography of the world.
Now the issue for the losers is, “how do I get the world to be the way I need it to be to be happy” while for the winners it is “how do I keep the world the way I want it to be to keep my satisfaction.” (For notions of how to evaluate non-human needs and goods and contemporary debates about 'speciesism', 'human chauvinism', 'human racism', and 'anthropocentrism' see Eckersley, 1998, Fjellstrom, 2002; for discussions of extensions of Kantian deontological ethics (categorical imperatives and practical imperatives) to non-humans see Regan, 1988 ; for applications of Bentham and Mill's consequentialist (teleological) or utilitarian ethics to non-humans see Singer, 1990  )
As for what may happen tomorrow, given that the present is but a fleeting moment that recedes instantly into the past, we are always in a war with complex forces of competition and cooperation swirling around one another. There is great uncertainty about how to act whether one wants to maintain the status quo or to change things. Some people want to “save the earth” by keeping it the way it IS. Some people want to “save the earth” by changing it. In fact everybody wants to save the earth that benefits them. But nobody really knows how…
What is sure, and should stand foremost in any consideration of the state of the world in 2005 is that the population of Homo sapiens is exponentially increasing and this unprecedented population explosion of a single species is having the greatest impact on the life support capabilities of the planet earth that it has undergone in 3.5 billion years. (See Chapter I: Extinctions )
“Environmentalism present” is a wave riding on a sea change in population -- 6,446,131,400 as of July 2005, double the number in 1965. (The World Factbook, also provides populations for each country. “World population increased from about 3.85 billion people in 1972 to 6.1 billion in mid-2000 (see figure right), and is currently growing by 77 million people a year (UNFPA 2001)
The geometric growth curve is familiar -- it took a looong time to get to our first billion Homo sapiens:
3,000,000 yrs – 10,000 BC
10,000,000 (10 million)
100,000,000 (100 million)
1,000,000,000 (1 billion)
We hit the 1 billion mark somewhere between 1800 and 1804; when John Muir wrote in 1880 it was around 1.46 billion, and our second billion came little more than a century after the first, in 1927 or 1928. After that the pace started to quicken dramatically: our third billion came a mere generation later, around 1962, the year I was born.
When the first wave of environmentalism peaked through the first Earth Day in 1970 it broke over a planet that had roughly 3.85 billion people, and we hit our fourth billion somewhere between 1974 and America’s bicentennial year of 1976, less than half a generation later. The fifth billion was added between 1987 and 1989, and the sixth just before the year 2000 (Estimates are unsure because demography and census taking are woefully inexact sciences – some believe these are actually gross underestimates! Nordhaus, 1973, is the classic paper, but is now grossly out of date, however, see O'Neill et. al., 2001). Though it is claimed that the population increase is slowing, we are still adding close to a billion people every decade. Furthermore, though economists talk hopefully about an income-inspired "demographic transition" (Galor and Weil, 2000), saying that the rate of increase is slowing is not saying that population growth is stopping. There is a tremendous amount of misinformation in the literature about the demographic transition and what a slowing growth rate means for humanity.
An example of the worst of this is Betsy McCaughey’s article in Investor’s Business Daily, “As Population Goes Bust, World Economy Faces Grim Future” (now quoted around the world on alarmist sites such as “The Free Market Foundation” and the “National Center for Policy Analysis”.) In her article she gives us a statistic that she claims has “many demographers and world leaders concerned.” The report:
“Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute finds that the global annual population growth rate – which was 2 percent in the 1960’s and is now down to 1.3 percent – will drop to 0.8 percent by 2025.”
The fear: not only will there be a lack of young people to support pensioners but “too few workers to support economic growth.” Using this logic, the National Center for Policy Analysis concludes “At any event, the prospect undercuts the arguments of those who seek zero population growth.” (NCPA 2001)
Far from being undercut, ZPG advocates find this ludicrous. A global 0.8 % growth rate is quite quite far from zero population growth and even farther from a population decline. For proof of this, one merely has to go to Palomar University’s WaynesWord population website and do the math. There, a nice Java applet lets one enter the initial population and the growth rate and the number of years to yield a classic compound interest rate result. Putting 6.5 billion in with a 1.3 % growth rate for the next 20 years yields a population of 8.4 billion, and a 0.8 % growth rate for the twenty years after that would yield a population in 2045 of almost 9.9 billion people. Even if the growth rate were down to 0.8% today there would still be 7.6 billion people by 2025. Another calculator on the site shows that if you enter a growth rate of 0.8 you double the population in a mere 86 years.
McCaughey, like many others, is clearly confusing growth rate with TFR (Total Fertility Rate). A TFR of 2.1 is considered replacement -- greater than 2.0 to allow for childhood mortality. A TFR of 2 suggests that each couple produces two children. The 1960’s growth rate of 2% that McCaughey and others lament declining is something quite different, but it is often confused (deliberately?) with the magic fertility number of 2. It is only when we reach zero population growth itself that we will be at a TFR of 2.1! At that point the population will NOT decrease, it will simply stay wherever it happens to be – some say at a level that is already far beyond carrying capacity (Hardin, 1986, Brown, 1995).
Even the pro ZPG website http://www.overpopulation.net/ uses confused rhetoric. It states in an article whose headline pronounces “Zero Population Growth Will Occur Somewhere Between 2020 To 2029” that
“The exponential growth of human population peaked in 1987. That year 87.01 million more people were added to the Earth. Since 1987, the population has declined on average by 2.1 million less people added per year…The decline of human population has been even more dramatic over the last 6 years. In 1994 we added 78.5 million more people, this year we will add 60.1 million.”
But this is fallacious reasoning as well as bad writing. In fact the population isn’t declining at all, it is still growing. Only the rate of increase is slowing down. The impact of such confusions on policy is concerning indeed.
Besides the sheer magnitude of the number of humans on earth, which is projected to reach nearly 10 billion by 2050 (“The population of industrialized regions, currently 1.2 billion, is expected to change little in the next 50 years while that of the developing regions is projected to increase from 4.9 billion in 2000 to 8.1 billion by 2050 says the United Nations Population Division 2001), there has been an unprecedented increase in the “Ecological Footprint” of each individual human being.
Ecological Footprint Analysis
In Environmentalism Present it is considered bad form to uncritically accept Neomalthusian pessimism about population growth. That was the doom and gloom rhetoric of Environmentalism Past, when the Limits to Growth scared everybody into thinking there would be mass starvation in the 1980s. Since the nightmares failed to materialize, particularly for Americans and Europeans, it is now considered passé. Despite the 40 million who starved to death during China's "Great Leap Forward" (1959-1961) and the 2 million who starved in the Ukraine during Stalin's Collectivization, the Maoist notion that "every new mouth creates a new pair of hands to feed it" and optimistic paraphrases of his famous slogan 'with more people, things more easily get done' (Li, 2000) are pervasive in the 21st century, particularly in the Capitalist West where they blend nicely with Adam Smith’s statement during the year of American Independence (1776) “The most decisive mark of the prosperity of any country is the increase in the number of its inhabitants” (quoted in Galor and Weil, 2000, p. 806) and input subsidized “miracles” of the “green revolution” (Perkins, 1993; Conway, 1999; Osmani, 2001, but see critiques of the Green Revolution by Shiva, 1991 Chrispeels, 2000, Duda and El-Ashry, 2000). The idea that "the problem is distribution, not scarcity" (Lappe and Collins, 1978, Sen 1981, Lappe,1991) combines with optimistic Star Wars inspired imagery of planets covered with people living in ant-hill like cities to create hopes in the minds of voters and consumers that we could actually accommodate many multiples of the current world population. It is unclear, however, even if distribution issues could be solved, how long population growth at any modern consumption level can last given the energetics and material flows of the situation. (Giampietro et. al., 1992) For example it has been estimated that "the food system consumes ten times more energy than it provides to society in food energy" (Giampietro and Pimentel , 1994) and, because the land gets poisoned with salts, "irrigation of farmland, as it has been practiced throughout history and up to the present time, cannot be sustained." (Abernethy, 1993, p.136; for critiques of the thermodynamics of these ideas also see Ehrlich and Holdren, 1971). To gain insight into what population actually does to the ecosystem services that subtend all life, new analytical tools are needed.
Ecological Footprint Analysis is an attempt to capture the impact that human individuals and aggregations (households, communities, cities, regions, nations) have on the global resource base. It uses estimates of net productivity and consumption of natural and cultivated resources and assumptions of how much area (terrestrial and aquatic) is necessary to support consumption and models the “true size” of our footprint if we were to metaphorically step on all the resources we actually exploit. Wackernagel and Reese (1996) explicated the idea in their book Our ecological footprint: reducing the human impact on the Earth and websites are now available where users can input .general data about their lifestyle and the computer model calculates the footprint. The “Redefining Progess” site has general footprint analysis for nations, regions and cities. A user input calculator for individuals in multiple languages for multiple nations found at http://www.myfootprint.org/. Other websites are offering similar calculators, some simplistic, some fairly detailed, such as the one the Portugese have put together for their Almada region.
Some ask for specific information, and some prompt the user with generalities. For example, on http://www.bestfootforward.com/footprintlife.htm the default condition, set to parameters for the “average American” yields the result: “Your ecological footprint is estimated to be 12.3 hectares (30.4 acres). If everyone in the World lived like you we would need 6.6 Planets to support global consumption”. The same parameters with the subject living in Europe yields 6.3 hectares (15.6 acres), "3.4 Planets needed to support global consumption if everyone lived the same way." And Australia yields, “8.5 hectares (21 acres); need 4.5 Planets.” You can play with the parameters to more closely approximate your lifestyle reality. The disclaimer states: “Warning: This simple calculator is based on average National data. It cannot accurately reflect all possible lifestyles. For further details about ecological footprint analysis, and how you can calculate the impact of products, individuals, organizations or regions, please see the links below”.
Many schools and universities now use these tools to get students to become aware of the difficult tradeoffs between consumption and environmental sustainability. The trick in the game, given a certain global population and a sense of social justice, is to get your lifestyle to be such that if everyone lived like you we could still live on 1 planet. One of the parameters you can manipulate is wildlife habitat. Interestingly (and obviously) the more of the productive areas of the planet you wish to devote to non-human species, the less you can consume to keep the number of earth’s down – the paradox is that when students compete to keep their footprint down, they often put the other species parameter at 0% to improve their chances!
Wackernagel and Reese choose specifically and determinedly to make the concept of carrying capacity relevant and urgent again and refute the logic of conventional economists and planners who “generally ignore or dismiss the concept when applied to human beings” and whose vision of the human economy is one in which "the factors of production are infinitely substitutable for one another" and in which "using any resource more intensely guarantees an increase in output" (Kirchner et al., 1985).”
Ecological footprint analysis is a more sophisticated form of the early IPAT model originated by Ehrlich and Holdren (1971), where impact is equivalent to population x affluence x technological efficiencies. The greatest irony of the Ecological Footprint Analysis and other models is what the trade-offs in the models imply about human use landscapes and “wilderness”. Nowhere in the models can you sustain even the current human population at even the lowest modeled levels of consumption and keep as much as 40% of the biosphere “wild”. Regardless of your optimism in terms of the IPAT equation, environmentalism present suggests that environmentalism future will occur in a considerably impoverished biosphere, in an age that E.O. Wilson in his book "Consilience" (1998) calls, “The Eremozoic” or “The Age of Loneliness”.
One popular website (Buddycom.com) offers this sobering perspective: Of all the environmental crises in the world, only one is forever irreversible. As the popular slogan goes “Extinction is Forever.” Air and water can be cleaned, further pollution can be prevented, distribution of resources can be improved and recycling of waste outputs can avert scarcity problems. So far so good. “Weak Sustainability” proponents (for example, Solow and Wan, 1976, Solow1993; Hartwick, 1977, 1990, 1993) believe that factor substitutability can avert economic and industrial crises. But “Strong Sustainability” advocates point out that there are no substitutes for wildlife once their unique genetic signatures have been lost. It is this worry that inspires cautious scientists like John Terborgh (1999) to write books with arresting titles such as "Requiem for Nature"
The prognosis here doesn’t look good. A cursory look at wild populations of charismatic megafauna alone gives numbers that are cause for not mere alarm but despair. Recently our own evolutionary order, Primates, experienced its first extinction since the 1700’s when Waldron's red colobus (Procolobus badius waldroni) went the way of the quagga (Equus quagga) and the blue buck antelope (Hippotragus leucophaeus) (Slack, 2003). Many more species, such as the northern white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum cottoni) one of the rarest mammals on Earth with about 30 left in the wild may soon be singing “The Song of the Dodo” (Quammen, 1996). With habitat fragmentation (Weiner, 1990) and “ecosystem decay” (Lovejoy et. al., 1984, Laurance et. al., 2002,) creating ever smaller “island ecosystems” subject to edge effects and an internal mortality rate higher than genetic inflow, the dismal extinction vs. immigration, predictions of classic island biogeography (McArthur and Wilson, 1967) now apply to a vast number of species – perhaps as many as 17 to 35% (Lovejoy, 1980, Wilson, 1998). The effects of inbreeding depression and loss of genetic variability interacting synergistically with ecological changes such as logging, hunting, fires, land conversion and armed conflict, combined with the statistical chance for stochastic events alone to push a species into extinction, leave no room for optimism.
The data speaks for itself: In a testimony given before the Fisheries, Wildlife and Water Subcommittee Of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee May 9, 2001 David S. Wilcove, Senior Ecologist, Environmental Defense, stated:
“In 1993, Margaret McMillan, Keith Winston, and I published a paper in the peer-reviewed journal Conservation Biology in which we examined the population sizes of U.S. species proposed for listing or added to the endangered species list from 1985-1991 (inclusive). Nearly 500 plants and animals were either proposed for listing or added to the list during that seven-year period. We discovered that the median population size of a vertebrate animal (mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian, or fish) at time of listing was 1,075 individuals. The median population size of an invertebrate animal at time of listing was fewer than 1,000 individuals, while for plants, it was fewer than 120 individuals. (In fact, 39 plant species were listed when 10 or fewer individuals were known to exist.) These low numbers of individuals were clustered in a small number of populations: For animals, the median number of populations at time of listing was fewer than 3; for plants, it was 4. By any scientific standard, such low numbers make these species highly vulnerable to extinction. One way to highlight this point is to note that half the animals added to our endangered species list are rarer even than the giant panda.” (italics mine)
TNC and ABI rank plant and animal species on a scale from 1-5. Species classified as G1 (the “G” indicating that the rank in question pertains to the entire or “global” range of the species) are considered “critically imperiled.” Such species typically occur in 5 or fewer places or have a total population of 1,000 or fewer individuals. A G2 species occurs in 6 to 20 places or has 1,000 to 3,000 individuals left. It is considered “imperiled.” A G3 species is classified as “vulnerable.” It typically occurs in 21 to 100 places or has 3,000 to 10,000 individuals remaining. Species ranked G4 or G5 are in no immediate danger. Note that all of these ranks are based on numbers of individuals and populations; they do not take into consideration the degree or immediacy of the threats facing these species. (italics mine)
“The authors of Precious Heritage have identified no fewer than 1,385 U.S. plants and animals with a rank of G1 (critically imperiled). An additional 1,737 species are classified as G2 (imperiled), while 3,338 are classified as G3 (vulnerable). By any reasonable measure, all of the species ranked G1 or G2 would qualify for listing as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act; these two categories alone contain well over 3,000 species—more than double the current endangered species list. And in all likelihood, a significant fraction of the species classified as G3 (vulnerable) would pass muster for listing, too. Thus, there are a great many rare plants and animals that are at risk of extinction but are not yet protected under the Endangered Species Act…
“From 1991-2000, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service added an average of 63 U.S. species per year to the list. At that rate, assuming a backlog of about 2,000 imperiled, unlisted species, it would take the Service nearly 32 years to catch up. By that time, many of these rare plants and animals may be gone…”
Finally, we must not forget that simply placing a rare plant or animal on the endangered species list does not guarantee its survival, much less its recovery. If, as the data indicate, most species are added to the list only when their populations have reached critically low levels, then we must find ways to increase those populations. Doing so usually entails restoring or enhancing their habitats. For species that depend upon private lands, the key to restoring their habitats is to enlist the cooperation of the landowners. Incentive-based approaches, such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s safe harbor program or its Endangered Species Landowner Incentive Program, have proved to be very successful in making landowners active participants in recovery efforts. More support for programs such as these will go a long way toward saving our imperiled wildlife while removing much of the controversy associated with the Endangered Species Act.”
The IUCN Red List for threatened species of Animals lists 26,329 species. This number of course excludes the 699 species that have recently gone extinct – more than 108 since the Red List began listing species only a two decades ago. This number excludes 37 species that are now extinct in the wild and survive only under controlled conditions of intensive human management. These 37 species, including the black footed ferret, the red-tailed shark, the gray wolf, the Saudi gazelle, the soft shelled turtle and the Saudi Gazelle, are the sorts of creatures which a disaster such as Hurricane Katrina can easily wipe out -- for example, while most of the animals in the New Orleans Zoo survived the Hurricane, a simple failure to restore electrical power in the city in its aftermath killed all of the thousands of organisms at the New Orleans aquarium.
Of the 26,329 listed threatened species, the IUCN excludes those of “least concern” for the purposes of best resource allocation and alerts our attention to the fate of 13,365 animal species that are in desperate need of individual protection and of sufficient protected habitat. The numbers break down as follows:
1,389 Critically Endangered (CR) , 2,118 Endangered (EN), 3,759 Vulnerable (VU), 2,314 Near Threatened (NT) , 2,931 and 736 Data deficient, 118 Lower Risk (LR), (and 12,964 of Least Concern (LC))
It is worth knowing that, simplistically speaking, among the criteria to qualify for a given category are:
< 50 mature individuals remaining on earth or less than 250 mature individuals with 25% decline observed over one generation to qualify for CR,
< 250 mature individuals or < 2,500 with an observed decline of 20% over two generations to qualify for EN,
< 1000 mature individuals or < 10,000 with an observed decline of at least 10% over three generations to qualify for VU,
NT is recommended when the species in question is down to numbers close to VU status but hasn’t quite crossed the threshold (we are still talking somewhere between 1000 and roughly 15000 members of the entire species left)
When you consider that merely to make it on the vulnerable list your population must number between 1,000 and 10,000 individuals and that in this desperate triage system to qualify for “least concern” (LC) (and therefore receive no substantial protections) you could still be down to a between 10,000 and 20,000 individuals you begin to see the magnitude of the problem in terms of survivability in the face of the drastic climate changes and catastrophes of both anthropogenic and “natural” origin. As Craig Hilton-Taylor, IUCN Red List Programme Officer pointed out,
A species may be considered globally threatened (because of declines over much of its range), but it could be listed nationally as Least Concern if there has been no or very little reduction in a particular country. Similarly a species could be highly threatened in several countries, yet in Least Concern globally because it is very common elsewhere. Aggregating national assessments such as these could result in totally spurious global assessments.
When creatures only number in the tens of thousands (or even the hundreds of thousands) it becomes statistically unlikely for them to survive even the smallest catastrophic event. At the time of the Ice Age, when many other creatures (particularly large mammals) did go extinct, human beings are estimated to have numbered somewhere around 10 million worldwide; at that density we obviously got through such periods of intense climatic disturbance (for reference the city of Cairo alone today has an estimated daytime population near 20 million.) How small a population renders a species vulnerable to extinction is a question that cannot be easily answered but statistics show that stochastic events can be powerful determinants of survivability. In this age of extreme habitat modification, rampant zoonoses (diseases transmissible from one animal species to another) and unstable climatic patterns, it is not merely a question of the genetic crapshoot of homozygosity for beneficial or deleterious alleles, the chances of successful mating opportunities and the odds of surviving to adulthood that we must consider; it is a question of the possibility for single events – diseases or disasters – to push a species over the brink (Shaffer 1981)
To get an idea of how many lives a single catastrophic event can claim we merely have to look at our own species in recent history: 2,749 people were killed in the World Trade Center terrorist attack alone; this is close to the entire population of Bengal tigers in the wild (note that the Bengal tiger is the most numerous tiger species in the world; the next most numerous, the second most numerous, Indo-Chinese tiger, numbers around 1,200 while the Siberian tiger and others are down to a few hundred individuals. The Javan tiger went extinct in 1988). We are all aware that the 2004 Tsunami in South Asia claimed over 286,000 human lives; few realize that this is near to the entire world population of all the other great apes combined – chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas and orangutans (Humans are taxonomically classified as one of the great apes in the Hominidae). By comparison some 350,000 human babies are born per day. This does not diminish the tragedy by any means but should call attention to the dangerously low replacement rates of the other primates with whom we share our planet and our evolutionary history.  Earthquake of October 2005 in Pakistan killed over 80,000 Homo sapiens; this is equivalent to the total number of living Central African Chimpanzees, Pan troglodytes troglodytes. What is more, when we talk about these extreme human tragedies we are talking about catastrophic mortality among highly intelligent and resourceful animals with extreme mobility and social organization skills. With populations down to 3,000 for most of the listed “Vulnerable Organisms”, a median population size of fewer than 1,000 individuals for all listed “Threatened Organisms” and as low as a few individuals for many critically endangered species it is easy to see why those who monitor biodiversity call these creatures “living fossils” or “the living dead.”
Loss of Ecosystem Services
One of the key things that has changed dramatically on the planet earth in the last half century is the loss over vast areas of “undisturbed” habitat offering ecosystem services that once buffered drastic population swings and allowed for assimilation of wastes and regeneration of productivity. In addition, “One critically important service that undisturbed ecosystems offer, according to Dr. Eric Chivian at Harvard Medical School’s Center for Health and Global Environment, is maintaining equilibria among hosts, vectors, and parasites and between predator and prey.” (Engelmann, Ibid)
Ecosystem services such as the provision of clean water, replenishment of nutrients (through seasonal flooding for example), storm de-intensification and other environmental buffering services, pollination and seed dispersal by insects and other animals, labor-free and management-free growth of animal and plant stocks, capture of insolation and provision of consumable energy through photosynthesis (nutrition, biomass) all have a value that can be calculated based on what humans would have to pay if they had to create the services themselves (Vitousek, 1986, Costanza et. al., 1997, Daily, 1997, Sagoff, 1997, Pimm, 1997). Costanza et. al, 1997 estimate that ecosystems annually provide at least US$33 trillion dollars worth of services at the current margin (p. 259). Much of this is outside of the market system (see below for new attempts to capture these values in “full cost accounting”) but the services are critical ones for which manufactured replacements are either non-existent or prohibitively expensive to substitute. Examples are gas regulation, estimated at 1.3 trillion/yr, disturbance regulation (2.3 trillion/yr), and nutrient recycling (17 trillion/yr). The bulk of this (63%) is estimated to come from marine systems, of which more than half is derived from coastal systems. 38% is imputed to terrestrial systems, primarily forests (4.7 trillion/yr) and wetlands (4.9 trillion/yr). Whether regarded as centers of primary production or waste assimilation, it is clear that the ecosystems in the biosphere are responsible for much of human wealth, despite the tendency for classical economists to underplay the significance of natural capital (Wallerstein,1997, Pearce and Atkinson, 1998) As Moore (2002) points out in a review of J.R. McNeill's (2000) environmental history of the 20th century, these ecosystem services are not just important for non-human organisms and for the poor of our species:
"Although McNeill did not say it, the disappearance and deepening erosion of these "ecological buffers" removes one of the chief means that capitalists have employed to avoid paying their bills over the past five centuries or so." (p. 315)
Will the market protect nature services?
Neither Wallerstein (1997) nor Daly (1991) seem to think so, for the sheer reason that “growth-mania” is embedded in the capitalist system. Since GNP is a measure of activity, not welfare (Nordhaus and Tobin, 1972) it can keep growing and growing even as MEW (Measured Economic Welfare) declines. And as long as policy is bent on an ever rising GNP there is no incentive to cease destruction. Kenneth Boulding, who conceived of the earth as a spaceship in a 1965 paper to the Committee on Space Science, argued that GNP was largely GNC (Gross National Cost). In fact GNP grows both when we deplete capital stock and when we add to it. As Herman Daly said in 1980 interview in Plowboy (Mother Earth News)
“we take all the costs of growth and add these to our Gross National Product as benefits! Have you ever noticed that nothing is ever subtracted from the GNP? That's because we count our expenses as income…”
This observation has led different authors to make the following comments about economic growth
A growing nation is the greatest ponzi game ever contrived. - Paul Samuelson
Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell. - Edward Abbey
Policy tools such as the creation of set asides and parks and other forms of landscape management such as “Integrated Landscape Management Models (ILMM)” and Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEAs) (Canadian Government Policy Research Initiative, May, 2005) are designed to correct for market inefficiencies that threaten ecosystem services. In the aftermath of a spate of terrible hurricanes in the U.S., for example, there is talk about protecting more coastline for storm buffering. But are protected lands really protected? Some authors believe that nature reserves and refuges and national parks are merely a form of land speculation. Environmentalists applaud Teddy Roosevelt for creating the national parks, and swoon with joyful disbelief when South American or South Asian governments set aside rainforest for preservation or when “debt for nature” swaps succeed. But, as discussed in the last chapter, despite its transcendentalist wrappings the "conservation movement" that preceded what we called "Enviromentalism Past" was ostensibly utilitarian (Pinchot,1910) . Trees were spared the saw so they could increase it size only to be cut later. It somehow rarely is discussed that set-asides and parks are really a great economic benefit to any nation – since the resources are not consumed at NPV (net present value) their FV (future value) can only increase over time. So any timber, wildlife or minerals that are not mined today become part of an increasing asset portfolio for the nation that conserves them. (But see Daly, Steady State Economics for two arguments against the idea the market automatically provides for conservation by offering high profits to farsighted speculators who buy up materials and resell them later at a higher price: 1) exponentially growing extraction leads to "unexpectedly" sudden exhaustion and 2) future profit must be discounted to its present value. P. 8). The U.S. has taken this Future Value approach for the past 200 hundred years, preferring to consume other nation’s resources rather than its own. But when push comes to shove, as with the current oil price spiral, we discover that no place is sacred at all. The Alaskan Wildlife Refuge will be drilled, no matter what the effect on permafrost and wildlife, and the longer the fight goes on to preserve it the more valuable the oil there will be once it is drilled (it just received another reprieve, according to the NRDC on November 15, 2005). This same rule applies to our old growth forests and stocks of whales. In fact the IWC moratorium was really put in place only until such time as the “stocks” recover. Iceland and Norway and Japan are still whaling, and certain whale species are still facing extinction. In a service economy, nature’s services can always be considered an investment.
While the celebrity antics of radical environmental groups like Greenpeace did have an effect, one could argue that governments merely used such publicity to help reign in businesses whose greed for profits could ultimately place a net burden on the government. By controlling access to land and usufruct values governments can make money from renting “the commons”. At a certain point it makes more sense to fence off “the commons” (really state owned land) for a while and let it increase in value until such time as higher rents can be charged. The Conservation movement, which Roosevelt takes credit for spearheading, always operated that way (again, see Pinchot, 1910) . From this perspective "Preservationism" and the rights-based environmental movement became merely the moral refuge of those whose wishful thinking saw a utopia on the horizon in which the killing would stop. It demanded permanent and inalienable rights for wild spaces and their inhabitants. It’s resistance to the whole market valuation of nature services approach is based on the moral indignation and outrage people feel when they realize that conservation represents a merely temporary reprieve before the slaughter begins again. To conserve land or wildlife is merely to fatten the cow before you slaughter it. From this point of view, biodiversity is only as valuable as its future value discount rate. Speculators talk about the importance of hitherto undiscovered rain forest and coral reef species to future pharmaceutical industries or for adding robusticity to an agriculture threatened by genetic homogeneity and vulnerability to rapidly evolving pests. But the differential expense on the development of genetic seed and germplasm banks and private holdings of exotic organisms, maintained through expensive hi-tech solutions, leaves little hope for vast tracts of wilderness, and no hope for organisms not charismatic enough to provide a return on their investment. The only good argument for preserving ignoble creatures and huge wilderness areas now seems to be their ecosystem service value – if it can be determined.
At the same time as land and sea are being intentionally altered, climate change is taking its toll on threatened ecosystems and their inhabitants, with no sign of improvement. With the exception of the European union, whose Greenhouse gas emissions declined by 1.4%, and Russia, who inexplicably dropped 30.7 percent, Greenhouse gases have continued to increase dramatically. (Table 2-1 page 35 State of the World, 2002) . Nobody has come close to their Kyoto Emissions Targets. Hope is often inspired by observations of the success of the 1987 Montreal Protocol that led to a ban on Chlorofluorocarbon production in 1996 and a phasing out of their use over the next decade (see Benedick, 1991, “Ozone Diplomacy: New Directions in Safeguarding the Planet”) but it should be recognized that the Ozone hole is still increasing in size as rogue chlorine atoms from previous emissions still in the stratosphere continue their damage (they will like continue to do so for the next century or so). Furthermore, the Montreal Protocol was led by the U.S. whereas the Kyoto Protocol is opposed by this one nation that unfortunately is the world's largest policy and business leader.
Can one really say the world is better off now than 4 years ago? The comparison with Reagan's slight of hand is really an apt one – American’s felt they were better off because they couldn’t see the deficit that the Republicans were plunging them into. All that borrowed money – trillions of dollars gained by mortgaging our future, made the 80s seem like a time to party. Despite the cheery whitewashing done by “The Skeptical Environmentalist”, the data alone speaks to the disproportionate suffering that is occurring today.
According to Christopher J. L. Murray and Alan D. Lopez in The Global Burden of Disease (1996; 2002) between 1990 and 2000 Lower Respiratory Infections deaths only dropped from 4.29 million to 3.87, and diarrheal diseases from 2.95 to 2.12, measles from 1.06 to 0.78 and tuberculosis from 2.04 to 1.66. These are not substantial improvements given the investments made. At the same time, deaths from Malaria increased from .86 to 1.08 million and AIDS from 0.31 to2.94. Summing the total deaths from these diseases we see that in 1990 11.51 million people died from the 6 leading infectious diseases, while in 2000 12.45 million died from the same 6 diseases, a net increase of nearly a million. This is not trivial, especially since, as the report points out, “70 percent of chest infections are resistant to at least one of the first-line microbials”, “resistance to AZT and protease inhibitors are beginning to appear”, “multidrug resistance is a growing problem… co-trimoxazole… today… is largely ineffective against shigella (a form of dysentery)”, and “1-2 percent of TB cases are now resistant to all anti-TB drugs… in Israel, Italy and Mexico the figure is 6 percent…” We may thus be on the verge of terrible plagues and epidemics.
Using its U5MR (Under five mortality rate) methodology, (a standard development indicator) The World Health Organization estimates that 11 million children under 5 are lost to preventable causes every year, 70% from treatable diseases.
Arguably the most frightening cause of human suffering today is cancer, the internal jihad caused by true "terrorist cells" in one's own body. Here the outlook is even bleaker. Though “Reason Magazine” (Bailey, 2001) claims there is no cancer epidemic per se (vilifying Rachel Carson and Lester Brown as scare-mongers) they do not deny the NIH estimate that approximately one out of every two men will get cancer (44%) and one out of every three women (39%). It all depends on what your definition of “epidemic” is. They cite Cancers Facts and Figures 2001 from the American Cancer , stressing a marginal decline in incidence and death rates during the 1990's after a dramatic upwards spike during the 80's. This argument is as fallacious as the decline in population growth rates argument talked about earlier – aggregate incidents and deaths are still going up. The latest data show that over a generation, from 1973 to 1999, "the overall incidence of cancers (expressed as the numbers per 100,000 population), adjusted to reflect the aging population, has increased by approximately 24% and despite advances in treatment, mortality due to Cancer has increased by 30%, from 17.7% to 23.0%. Cancer affected 1.4 million Americans and claimed 570,000 lives in the US in 2004 (up from 544,278 in 1996, despite a decline in mortality from certain cancers such as prostate cancer), and is second only to heart disease in total number of deaths (733,834). In the United States the statistics suggest an environmental justice component; "Blacks are about 33% more likely to die of cancer than are whites, and more than twice as likely to die of cancer, as are Asian/Pacific Islanders, American Indians, and Hispanics" report Greenlee et. al. (2000). Few people talk about the rising cancer rates in developing countries. But the WHO World Cancer report states that in 2000 malignant tumors accounted for 12% of 56 million deaths worldwide and that in some developing countries cancer accounted for over 25% of the deaths; worldwide cancer cases have doubled; furthermore, once considered a "western" disease, more than 50% of the cancer cases worldwide now occur in developing countries. 
Industry has tried to paint cancer as a "disease of longevity" (despite the epidemic proportions of childhood leukemia and other young people's cancer, see ACCIS, the "Automated Childhood Cancer Information System); a "disease of affluence" (despite the cancer statistics for the urban poor, see Greenlee et. al. Ibid.), a "disease of lifestyle" (despite the fact that people are getting cancer who do not smoke or drink alcoohol or eat improperly or live in urban or industrial areas) and other such labels that effectively “blame the victim”.
It is alleged that huge numbers of people always died of cancer, but medicine had neither the name nor the tools to diagnose it so we attributed the mortality to different causes. It is alleged that most people died younger than they do today and if they had lived long enough, they too would have gotten cancer, because cancer is an inevitable part of living. It is even alleged that "natural food" is more likely to give you cancer than synthetic chemicals. Researchers such as Bruce Ames (originator of the Ames Test for LD50 or "Lethal Dose 50%") and Lois Swirksy Gold have even gone so far as to state "epidemiological studies do not implicate low-dose exposures to synthetic pollutants or pesticide residues as important risk factors for human cancer" (Gold et. al., 1992, p. 271). Ames and Gold recently redefined their careers "debunking" rodent carcinogen studies by ranking MTD (Maximum tolerated dose) and TD50 studies and claiming that, given exposure doses, a glass of wine or beer, a cup of coffee or a glass of orange juice are all more dangerousthan synthetic chemicals (Gold et. al, 1992).
The popular interpretation of their publications has become the devil may care slogan, "what the hell, everything gives you cancer". But in fact that isn't true, and we know very well what factors increase cancer rates, what can lower risk, and what substances are iatrogenic (Epstein, 1987). Ames and Gold correctly identify smoking as a principle and real danger, but while a debate rages about whether it is tobacco per se or the carcinogens "added" to "natural tobacco" by the cigarette companies that are causing the damage - again, turning the debate into a "lifestyle" issue - most analysts are continuing to ignore the role of radionuclides irresponsibly released in our environment and their rising concentration. Since the time of the Curies and after exhaustive research into the effects of the nuclear weapons we twice dropped on Japan and detonated all over the world in “tests” we know well that radiation is a prime carcinogen. Some even believe that much lung cancer from cigarettes (both primary and second-hand smoke) is the result of tobacco being contaminated by fertilizers containing the alpha-emitting isotope Polonium 210, (see Rahman et. al, 1987, Cohen and Eisenbud, 1980, and Evans 1993 and Martell, 1974 ).
The National Academies' National Research Council has concluded that there is no safe dose of radiation, (see Brenner et. al. 2003 for a more technical discussion and see footnote for a popularized account of the dangers). If this is true, and if it is also true, as the National Cancer Institute alleges, that the 500 + untested new synthetic chemicals “that the average person has in their body fat that didn't exist in 1920” which Lester Brown has been warning us about really only account for 1% of the cancer load, then we have to closely examine the radiation issue, since it is well established that radiation is iatrogenic.
Too much actual policy concerning environmental risk factors routinely ignores the precautionary principle developed for the Rio Declaration in 1992 (Principle 15) and expanded on in the 1998 Wingspread Statement: “when an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically” (Kriebel and Tickner, 2001). Industry driven policy allows us to commit dangerous “type II errors” (Tickner, 1997) and confuses the public by interchanging the words “natural” and “organic” with “healthy” or “good”. What is interesting about Environmentalism Present is that it is increasingly industry and business who use appeals to “nature” to defend their products or practices while environmentalists are more interested in health and equity and ethical and aesthetic concerns. Nowhere is this more in evidence than in the cancer and radiation debate. Claiming that living next to a nuclear power plant exposes a New Yorker to less radiation than someone in Denver receives "naturally" from the "background cosmic radiation” doesn’t help the New Yorker at all. It relies on that worn out dualism that "natural" is good and "artificial" is bad, when in fact no exposure to radiation is good, whatever the source. (This same essentialist thinking lies behind the Ames and Gold papers: if, for example, "natural" coffee is as bad as they claim it to be this is no excuse to tolerate the spraying of "artificial" pesticides. Simply because you have demonstrated your willingness to tolerate the risks of something that you enjoy drinking, this is no argument to allow unscrupulous companies to poison your air and water and food with a pesticide rather than adopt integrated pest management strategies, it could, however, be an argument to stop drinking coffee!) But the most insidious cause of cancer, beyond the estimated 70,000 synthetic chemicals created since 1940 that are now in our water and food supply is the sheer amount of radioactive isotopes being spread throughout the world through weapons manufacture, use and testing and through the domestic use of nuclear energy as well as bioaccumulation over time of all previous releases.
Rachel Western (2002) has written a brilliant series of articles in Peace News saying that atomic waste will become the chief issue of environmentalism future as it is the one legacy we will leave our grandchildren that nature will never be able to repair or clean up. Given their multi-generational half-lives, the plutonium and other highly radioactive materials we have created and concentrated on earth will remain a threat to health and a temptation for terrorists or other evil doers for the rest of our tenure as a species on planet earth (although see Lovelock, 1979; 1995, for a curious optimism that the deadly and mutagenic radiation we have released around the world my be a "good" thing because it will "accelerate evolution"!) The "Database of Radiological Incidents and Related Events” on the web is devoted to the number of large (> 1 megacurie) nuclear accidents and radiation releases that have occurred worldwide since the second world war, listing 128 non-combat incidents accounting for 197 fatalities and 1,130 injuries; no data is available for the increased incidence of cancer and other disorders from the cumulative and synergistic effects of these events. Nuezil and Kovarik (1996), in a book called "Mass Media and Environmental Conflict : America's Green Crusades" document the sad case of the "radium girls" – female laborers in the watch industry who were all told repeatedly that painting glow dials with radium was not only harmless but healthy, and who all subsequently died of cancer. Much like the radium girls we are all being poisoned by ever increasing concentrations of radioactive material, from depleted uranium and continuous discharges and leaks of radiation waste from the nuclear industry, to say nothing of fallout from past atmospheric testing, seepage from current underground testing and leaking containers as well as the tremendous amount of radiation emitted by coal burning power plants (Ramachandran, Lalit and Mishra, 1987) -- something almost nobody talks about. As these toxins tend to bioaccumulate, and interact synergistically with other known carcinogens, one can expect the cancer rates to continue climbing and climbing. Even if a "cure" for cancer is one day discovered, the costs of treatment and medication alone, under the current market system, will condemn the majority of cancer sufferers to a certain painful death, making cancer survivability in a world filled with carcinogens a privilege of the rich.
As for the number of people suffering below the poverty line in 2005, a brief look at statistics shows that on a planet of nearly six and half billion people, the percentage under the official poverty line (1 dollar a day equivalent) now equals the entire world population in the early 1800’s. The number with consumption levels below 2 dollars a day were 2.7 billion in 2003, roughly equivalent to the entire world population just before I was born. (World Bank, 2005) How anyone can say that things have improved is bewildering to this vast number of sufferers, particularly since almost all of these people are now integrated into the global economy and survive in places where ecosystem services are so degraded that they cannot easily supplement their low incomes with freely available natural resources. The myth that things are getting better all the time persists, however, because the sheer number of humans who are living better than any king or emperor in the Middle Ages (there were 1.2 billion living in the rich nations in 1990 according to Ehrlich, 1994) is now the equivalent of the entire earth population in John Muir’s day. And they are a very powerful and vocal minority (15 or 16%) of the 6.5 billion on the planet. Thus there is an ample chorus of voices proclaiming the triumph of modernism in ending scarcity. Again, it depends on which side of the fence you are on.
Weapons of Mass Destruction/Weapons of mass production
C.S. Lewis wrote "Man's power over nature turns out to be a power exercised by some men over other men with Nature as its instrument." This is the essence of political ecology through whose optic (revealed by the work of Hecht and Cockburn, 1989) we learn that "the devastation of nature is due to pervasive and enduring patterns of exploitation and injustice between human groups". Hecht and Cockburn warn against "the seduction of models" and becoming too caught up in the rhetoric of development technicians (Chapin, 1988; see Nordhaus, 1992 for a different take on models) and ask us to see struggles to protect the environment as subsets of human rights struggles. For them justice is at the heart of any solution to environmental crises. Unfortunately both the pursuit of justice and the imposition of injustice have been enforced by violence and violence has created a spiraling demand for weapons.
Despite decades of touted progress in arms reduction among superpowers the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, to say nothing of smaller weapons with big environmental effects, has continued to the point where we are at greater risk today than at any time in the past. Renner (2002) provides an overview of the link between resources and repression in State of the World 2002 Report, showing how "land rights conflicts, compensation demands, human rights violations, and environmental damage" keep triggering violent and nonviolent protests. (p. 165) He calls attention to how resource extraction triggers conflicts and how industries rush in with weapons, mercenaries and armies to maintain their control over everything from "blood diamonds" to tantalum for the mobile phone industry, to, of course, oil, wreaking ecological and social havoc in the process.
Mass production in a globally industrialized world has vastly increased the number of chemical, radioactive and biological agents capable of inflicting grave harm on living organisms and their ecosystems. With an estimated 2000 new chemicals being manufactured every year the palette of potential destructive poisons is radically enlarged all the time (but see the humorous "Facts about Dihydrogen Monoxide" website for a look at how any substance, including water, can be considered a hazard!) In addition to intentional weapons, the terrorist attacks of 9/11 have showed the world that there are serious actors in the world who can find an intentionally destructive use for nearly any object – technological or natural. Fears of chemical, biological and nuclear materials – from “dirty bombs” to contamination of air and water to the spread of diseases that can affect people, livestock or crops – are even greater with the availability of information on the internet on how to unleash their destructive potential ("anyone can now download the DNA sequence for anthrax toxin genes … anyone can order synthetic DNA from offshore companies" says Drew Endy, an MIT researcher who builds TNT detecting bacteria for military application (Gibbs, 2004); the use of the deadly neurotoxin Ricin, a natural derivative of the castor bean plant, which is a common weed found all over the world, or the pesticide Sarin, chemically similar to malathion, by terrorists such as those who attacked the subway in Japan, are also good examples of this how such knowledge affects our environment (Breithaupt, 2000, Frischknecht, 2003). Furthermore, the general “assault on nature” has continued with even greater destructive power using deliberate biocidal and ecodestructive “weapons” such as vastly more potent herbicides, pesticides, bulldozers, chainsaws, earthmovers, drilling rigs, supertankers, supertrucks and what I call "weapons of mass production" and “weapons of mass construction” – massive amounts of prefabricated materials, from cinderblock to cement mixers and easy to assemble building materials that make conversion from farmland or wilderness into industrial park, shopping mall or urban sprawl a matter of days.
II. Production – Technology and Its SocioEconomic Relations
The technoptimists, from Schumpeter and Fuller and Solow to Beckerman, Simon and Lomborg and McDonough, though different in their policy outlooks and sympathies, all look to this sector to find the holy grail of environmental improvement, despite the fact, as Barry Commoner has been pointing out for decades, that technology is what got us into this mess of mass destruction to begin with. In some sense the technoptomists are right though – if the simple equations of their models are reliable – by focusing on bringing down the T variable of the IPAT equation we can reduce our environmental impact, at least theoretically. Given that so many of our problems were engendered by technology in the first place, much can be done to eliminate the more obvious problems associated with processes that create undesirable "externalities". But this ignores one fundamental physical reality – a growing economy depends on low entropic inputs and results in high entropic outputs and there is no way to recycle high entropy residuals without increasing entropy. To do so would be to violate the 2nd law of thermodynamics – a fact most technoptomists fail to address (Daly, 1999). So from the outset technoptimism may be unfounded, at least in terms of achieving the holy grail of unlimited growth. What Immanuel Wallerstein called the “dirty secret of Capitalism” – the externalization of costs – may be incompatible with ecological sustainability no matter what technologies we employ. This prompted Wallerstein to claim there is “no exit” as long as we are operating within the framework of the world capitalist system (Wallerstein, 1997). But there is no question that our ability to capture and derive useful work from the transformation of high quality energy and concentrated matter to low quality energy and dispersed matter can dramatically improve in efficiency. And this might just buy us time for a transition to another form of economic life more compatible with biological life.
Scientific American gave us the following optimistic outlook in their 150th anniversary issue:
“The end of the 20th century has seen a subtle change in the way many industries are confronting environmental concerns: they are shifting away from the treatment or disposal of industrial waste and toward the elimination of its very creation.” (The Industrial Ecology of the 21st Century. "Scientific American"; 150th Anniversary Issue, Vol. 273 Issue 3, p178, 4p)
It would seem that the captains of industry are finally heeding the 1992 “Warning to Humanity” of an environmental crisis escalating out of control. The warning was given by 1,670 of the World's most respected scientists (104 of them Nobel Prize Winners). But there is skepticism over how much of the change is real and how much is mere talk or wishful thinking. In aggregate, given the trends mentioned in the last section, it appears to some that “nothing has been done”, at least nothing positive. UCLA instructor Scott Sherman’s environmental fiction adventure It’s the End of the World as We Know It (and I could use a drink) is indicative of popular sentiment along these lines:
"They came from 71 different nations, including many from Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe. They came from the largest 19 economic powers and the 12 most populous nations. Yet despite their differences in race, religion, culture and creed, they had all apparently come to a consensus on a threat more immediate and more dangerous than even nuclear war.
The earth had as few as 10 years left.
Of course, this was the most important news of our lifetimes. But most people never even heard about this event. Others simply ignored it and went on with business as usual.
Now it was 1997, and nothing had been done to solve the ecological crisis. In fact the situation was only getting worse. Five years had already passed…
Time was running out.” ( pages 6 and 7)
Sherman’s Prologue was written after the UN Special Assembly met in June of 1997 to review progress on sustainable development since 1992. There, a leading member of the British Delegation summed up the outcome with the acronym SLUDGE (“slightly less unsustainable development genuflecting to the Environment”, Parkin, 1999 p. 47). All the progress seems like "one step forward, two steps backward". Sherman’s Prologue is called “Truths” but it contains one epistemological falsehood: the idea that “nothing has been done to solve the ecological crisis.” Inserted for dramatic effect (Scott’s book is an adventure story whose cover bears the subtitle: “A work of fiction that incidentally happens to be true”), this one fictive passage in an otherwise very responsibly laid out story about one man’s crusade to solve the ecological crisis (the hero must always be doing what nobody else has done before) is the key misperception that allows other authors to claim that, in terms of their dire predictions “all those environmentalists were wrong”.
In fact a lot has been done to solve the ecologic crisis, and it is precisely because things have been done that many of the catastrophes predicted in Environmentalism Past did NOT universally occur. (for more on this, see the famous bet between Julian Simon and Paul Ehrlich. It isn’t that the predictions were wrong – the predictions were conditional “if-then” statements. They said IF we went on with business as usual terrible things would result, but we DIDN’T go on with business as usual. In some cases we changed technologies, in many others we simply exported our problems elsewhere, and subsidized our own growth by the destruction and/or Borg-like assimilation of their ecosystem services; as Parkin (1999) observed in her paper “Environmental Security: Issues and Agenda for an Incoming Government” :
…an estimated 20 million people have died each year because their locality no longer provided a life-supporting environment. This compares to an estimated 20 million who have died in armed conflict in total since 1945. (p. 1)
The same sort of critics who don’t want to hold American policy responsible for hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children’s deaths during the embargo leading up to the current Gulf War will dispute that the mortality in developing countries is due to environmental degradation caused by Western style Economic and Technological development, but it is hard to find any other explanation given the historical background of similar instances of mass mortality (of course eco-catastrophe predates the Capitalist system and haunts all systems of unsustainable extraction and inequitable distribution: see Ponting, 1992 for descriptions of ancient ecological holocausts, Michael Davis, 2000, for explanations of Late Victorian Holocausts that claimed as many as 60 million lives “at the precise moment when famine disappeared from Western Europe”, see Wilson, 2001, for descriptions of modern Holocausts that in fact are worse than any in the past, despite better technology). And as Herman Daly pointed out in his essay on Stead-State Economics , in many cases we are living in denial of the holocausts that have occurred and continue to occur that actually vindicate the environmental doomsayers:
“Note… the blind assertion that Malthus was wrong, when in fact his predictions have been painfully verified by the majority of mankind. But then majorities have never counted. Only the articulate, technically competent minority counts. But even for them Malthus was not really wrong, since this minority has heeded his advice and limited its reproduction…
Citing Jorgenson and Grilliches, 1972 and Maddala, 1965 who looked at total factor inputs of industries from 1945 - 1965, Daly supports the decision of “Limits to Growth” authors to dis-include exponentially growing technical knowledge as a sixth constituent of the World Model :
What formerly was considered as technical change now appears as a process of factor substitution… such findings cast doubt on the notion thattechnology, unaided by increased resource flows, can give us enormous increases in output. In fact the law of conservation of matter and energy by itself should make us skeptical of the claim that real output can increase continuously with no increase in real inputs… the assumption of some critics that technological change is exclusively a part of the solution and no part of the problem is ridiculous on the fact of it and totally demolished by the work of Barry Commoner (1971).
More to the point, the very technologies that created the ecologic crisis were themselves “things that were done to solve an ecologic crisis”. They were things done to solve crises in supplying food when and where and of the type we wanted, supplying water where and when and at the temperatures we desired, eliminating wastes that used to accumulate in our outhouses and streets, crises of temperature and lighting regulation in our homes and work spaces, crises of smoke accumulating in our kitchens and living rooms, crises of insects and parasites and predators feeding on us or our foods, etc. In fact the entire human story can be read as a response to one or another ecological crisis.
Part of the problem is the shifting meaning of “ecologic crisis”. While the term “ecology” was coined by Ernst Haeckel in 1866 to describe the interlocking systems that maintain life on earth, the roots of the term are the same as those we use for “economy” - namely “ekos”, greek for “house” or “home” By this logic “ecology” (the study of the home) and “economy” (that which quantifies the activities of the home) are really the same subject - ideas that humans have about the functioning of their world. From this etymological perspective it is clear that things that were done to solve an “economic crisis” were also things done to solve an “ecologic crisis” - i.e., human inventions and interventions to make life in their home world better. For example, cars, the big nemesis of so many environmentalists, were invented primarily to solve transportation problems in an age when horses were the prime means of conveyance. Both health officials decrying the disease-bearing filth of urban streets and animal rights activists (can we lump them in with environmentalists?) decrying the mistreatment of horses, mules, elephants and camels pressed into transportation service could laud this “crisis averting technological solution” as being a “clean” and “humane” way to be earth friendly. The toxic and greenhouse gas causing byproducts of combustion were not necessarily related to cars per se, especially since some of the first automobiles ran on biofuels (alcohol) and electricity (Bernton et. al., 1982). Many of the problems associated with automobiles are really problems associated with the combustion of fossil fuels and simply changing the fuel source could have profound positive effects (though would have little effect on Sprawl and congestion!).
But to some it appears that each new technology we invent to get us out of an old mess merely creates a new one. This is known as Sevareid's Law (after CBS elite war correspondent Eric Sevareid): "The chief cause of problems is solutions". (Sevareid, 1970). Like "Murphy's Law" it has no empirical foundation, but has influenced the Regional Planning Literature (Bartlett, 1998) A recent example: we know that Thomas Midgley invented CFC's to be a benign solution to the problem of toxic refrigerants such as ammonia, and that they appeared to be a health and environmental boon at first (inert, nontoxic); only later did we learn that they could end life on earth by destroying he ozone shield (Somerville,1998); the very characteristics that made them "safe" to ecosystems and organisms make them persistent threats to stratospheric ozone. Now a Greenpeace report has been issued that the CFC replacement chemical that industry rushed to in order to protect the ozone layer, HFC, while not an ozone destroyer, may be one of the most potent greenhouse gases that we are now releasing into the atmosphere. In terms of "total equivalent warming impact (TEWI)” many touted technological solutions, when analyzed using a life-cycle systems approach, turn out to be less than ideal. Out of the frying pan, into the fire, so to speak (see Fischer et. al. 1991 and Fischer, Sand and Baxter, 1997 for an analysis of “Energy and Global Warming Impacts of HFC Refrigerants and Emerging Technologies”; see Scientific American August 2003 for a report on “Not So Friendly Hydrogen” in which the authors point out the dangers of the Bush plan for building a hydrogen infrastructure that depends on nuclear energy and fossil fuel reforming for hydrogen production and Matthew Wald's "Questions about a Hydrogen Economy" in Scientific American, May 2004 in which he details a "new genre of energy analysis" called "from Well to Wheels" that approaches energetic full cost accounting in terms of "conversion efficiencies" and exposes hidden energy and residuals costs at every step of the energy chain.)
Similar examples include the replacement of lead in gasoline with MTBE, now accused of contaminating ground water supplies, and of course the invention (imposition?) of nuclear energy as the "too cheap to meter" panacea for the rising problems and costs associated with fossil fuel combustion. (Calder ed, 1964., The World in 1984) Still, those who understand science and engineering know that not all technologies with downsides are equally risky and some have waste products more easily neutralized or assimilated than others as well as social costs and risk factors that are more palatable than others. It doesn't necessarily hold that all technology carries with it comparable or undesirable levels of risk. But in the hotly contested marketplace for factor substitution it is hard to know which analyses to put stock in. For example, recent use of LCCP analysis, ( Life Cycle Climate Performance) by the “Alliance for Responsible Atmospheric Policy”, which provides “the cradle-to-the-grave” warming impact of any product, has given a “thumbs up” to HFC’s, declaring
“that earlier statements of R-134a’s global warming impact “substantially overstate[d] the net warming impact of HFCs, given the significant contribution to energy savings that the unique properties HFCs provide in many applications.”
We can also give a hearty thumbs up to Franklin Fuel Cells for their recent discovery of the benefits of copper-ceria anodes, simultaneously solving such problems as the need for pure hydrogen in electrochemical motor technology and the production of lung-embedding particulate matter, smog and carcinogens when using Diesel and gasoline fuels. Their new technology permits such fuel flexibility that, once installed, they can run on virtually anything we currently use, from fossil to biofuels to hydrogen itself (see FranklinFuelCells.com). It is hard to see an environmental downside to their technology. Japan’s success with small-scale hydroelectric power generation (often called “micro-hydro”); which doesn’t disrupt natural stream flows, calls into question previous assertions about the ecological devastation assumed to always accompany otherwise clean water power schemes. Recent analyses of photovoltaics and wind power showed that over their life time these clean technologies, which create no harmful residuals, produce approximately nine to seventeen times more energy and thirty times more energy respectively (for PV see Knapp and Jester, 2005; for Wind, see the British Wind Energy Association) than it took to manufacture them. But these “Schumacherian solutions” (i.e. “Small is Beautiful”, Schumacher, 1961; 1973) depend on a Proudhonian or Kropotkinian (read “anarchist”) decentralization of production to achieve the aggregate production demanded by society and this may be too radical a change for today’s capital holders. Thus, while the appropriate technology movement, variously known by such terms as “AT”, “intermediate technology” “alternative technology”, “community technology”, and even “liberation technology” (see Willoughby, 1990 for the full spectrum of semantic descriptors), may indeed be liberating people from dependency on unsustainable technologies, these small scale solutions are unlikely to be embraced by the captains of industry (see Rybczynski, 1980, cited in Willoughby, 1990, for a review AT as a protest movement).
At the core of all this, of course, is what Daly (1999) referred to as Schumpeter's pre analytic vision – that perceptual filter that precedes analysis and is °∞highly determinative of what we end up with in our conclusions.°± †The Frankenstein vision, an outgrowth of the Christian view of man°Øs fall from grace, mistrusts all technology as °∞meddling with nature°± and will mistrust all solutions humanity invents. †The Ecosystem model of the human place in nature, by claiming humans as just another animal in the ecosystem, offers more hope in this regard – human wastes, for example, may seem dangerous when put into sources of drinking water, but when composted they are not only benign but serve as a nutrient. This model suggests that we can find our way back to grace by using ever more graceful technologies.
There have been numerous revisions made to the IPAT model originated by Ehrlich and Holdren in the early 1970s (Lovins 1990, Ehrlich and Ehrlich 1991, Olson 1994, von Weizsäcker et al. 1997, Chertow 2001, Nordberg 2002, Peet 2003), and some doggedly optimistic authors (Robert Solow and Julian Simon, to name two) continue to believe that if Impact truly equals Population x Affluence x Technology and we are improving the efficiency of our technology and getting richer we should be able to continue to expand our population indefinitely. For example, since electricity demand in the lighting sector is rapidly decreasing, with savings of nearly 75% per bulb lumen using compact fluorescent technology, we should theoretically be able to support the current population using 3 times as many light bulbs or support 3 times the current population using the same number. Light Emitting Diode technology has the possibility of improving this performance by up to 20 times, while new “quantum dot lighting technology” – once “the holy grail of lighting technology” promises such a staggering increase in productivity that some are predicting the end of the light bulb as we know it. In fact, Nordhaus (1997) found that although it was not captured in conventional lighting price indexes, when measured in lumens the real price of lighting fell a thousand times between 1800 and 1989 after remaining essentially constant between 1265 and 1800. This is supposed to suggest a massive increase in Solow-style productivity that can offset population pressures (Hansen and Prescott, 1998). Similarly, if inductive motors in refrigerators, air conditioners, washing machines and other machinery use 50% the energy as previous models then a doubling of the population should merely maintain the status quo. If hybrid cars are now getting 50 miles to the gallon instead of 25, then again, a double in the world population should have no net effect (at least in terms of fuel consumption). This rather naïve application of the IPAT equation ignores the fact that environmental problems are multi-dimensional, and ignores that current levels of consumption without any change have had and are having tremendous deleterious impacts – current global warming and cancer rates are the result of fossil fuel use by much lower populations – and no matter how clean point-source emissions in first world countries have become, the non-point source pollution from the energy industry itself are tremendous causes of environmental degradation at present levels. It is also worth remembering that the degradation circa 1965 that inspired the first world-wide environmental movement and the predictions of doom and gloom occurred when we had half the number of people on the planet, when American's were consuming half the energy per capita that they consume today (with no visible reduction in life style quality says Daly, 1980) and when, relatively speaking, the vast majority of human beings were hardly consuming any resources at all. We must also remember that the level of affluence and the number of affluent people today is greater than ever before in history, yet ecosystem services – the benefits supplied to human societies by natural ecosystems – have never been more depleted and tenuous (Daily, Alexander, Ehrlich et. al., 1997).
The most difficult thing about sustainable development, according to authors such as Clark, (1995) and Farber and Hemmersbaugh 1993, is that the present occupants of spaceship earth are essentially held hostage by stakeholders who don’t even exist yet (see Pearce and Atkinson, 1998 p. 9, for their take on the implications of Nordhaus, 1995 and Weitzman and Lofgren, 1997, whose independent but parallel ideas of exogenous technological change absolves us from having to account for changes in natural assets and suggests that "no matter what the degree of care between generations and the bequest of assets across time, technological change will always take care of the future such that the current generation is always the poorest.") Farber and Hemmersbaugh call these problems “intergenerational opportunity costs” and “the problem of discounting benefits that future generations will experience” saying “mature individuals behave responsibly with respect to the interests of their descendants, but do not necessarily owe a "duty" to as-yet nonexistent individuals…”(pp. 12-13)
By being forced to meet the needs of the present without comprising the ability of future generations to meet their needs we are actually letting unborn kids spoil our own party. What is more, we don't even know if the brats will appreciate the same things we value. They may be quite happy with Aibo type robot pets instead of real animals. They may enjoy living underground in spaces like the “La Ville Souterraine” in Montreal, and immersing themselves in virtual reality experiences where they don't have to get their feet cold and wet hiking, but can explore Yosemite flying around like Neo in the Matrix. For this reason some author's believe "the future should take care of itself". There are two ideas behind this. One is that we have enough trouble trying to meet our needs without comprising the ability of existing generations (of poor people, of groups we don't particularly like, of non-human animals and plants) to meet theirs, so what good is it adding another group's unrealized needs to our concerns? The other idea is that we all come into a world filled with challenges and part of life is creatively meeting those challenges. Our ancestors didn't waste time restricting growth for our sake, they just went about pursuing self-interest in the fashion Adam Smith and David Ricardo celebrated and voila, here we are. Besides that, if we are going to successfully move out into space and colonize other planets we need practice dealing with survival issues on hostile planets devoid of ecosystem services, and what better place to start than home, where we can adjust to such deprivations in easy stages? Daily et. al. (1997) use a compelling thought experiment to help us appreciate the value of ecosystem services – they simply ask us to plan a colony on the moon and to ask ourselves which animals, plants, bacteria, protozoans, and fungi we would bring along to create sustainable soil, air and water creation and cycling systems that would enable human beings to survive. Since the first real efforts to do this for real were dismal failures (Daily et. al, 1997; following Vernadsky (1945) there were experiments in "Manmade Closed Ecological Systems” (Gitelson et. al., 2003) called Biosphere 3 in Russia from 1972-1973 which lasted 180 days, and the Biosphere II experiment in Arizona from which cost $200 million and ran for two years from 1991-1993), we need all the practice we can get, and nothing will get us to get serious like collapsing systems around the world – as long as they don't all collapse at once.
While this may sound fanciful to generations that did not grow up seeing the earth from the surface of the moon, to people born after 1969 there is nothing odd about the idea of human beings living and working in space. At any event, from a traditional economists point of view, there are only three ways to approach sustainable development if you don't want to slip backwards into "de-development". Either you consider development to be different from growth, following the model of an organism (like a healthy human being) which only grows to be so big but then continues to develop (intellectually, emotionally, physical) (this is Daly's "Steady State Economy concept and Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen’s (1975) idea of living within “the terrestrial dowry”) or you grow fatter and fatter until you explode, like Mr. Creosote in Monty Python's Meaning of Life, or die of health related diseases (this is the ‘SuperSize-it’-until-collapse concept), or you grow out, ever outward, colonizing every landmass, colonizing the oceans and colonizing space (see Daly’s 1999 lecture on Uneconomic Growth, and Peet, 2003 “Sustainability – A Scientific Dilemma”) For the cornucopianists this is the only logical palatable solution. The question is, can we do it? And can all economies grow like ours? Should they? Even if they don't (either they are unwilling, or can't or are prevented) what are the consequences of our own ever expanding growth? At some point, even if were to displace all other cultures (as we did the native Americans and Australians) won't we face the same dilemma soon enough?
Rostow’s classic papers on “The Take-Off into Self-Sustained Growth” (1956) and “The Stages of Economic Growth” (1960) described a world that ran like clockwork in a five stage process –traditional societies with ceilings on productivity due to their economic, political and scientific techniques develop the preconditions for take off into sustained growth through an embrace of modern science and the ability to fend off diminishing returns at which point they experience a watershed event when old blocks and resistances to steady growth are overcome and “compound interest becomes built, as it were, into its habits and institutional structure.” (1960, p. 7) After this “take off” the society expands and extends its range of technologies, and finally enters into the “age of high mass consumption”. Rostow himself was unclear what happened after that.
Rostow’s linear model came under attack almost immediately and was abandoned to the notion that there really is no clear typology in development history that can be used to predict the future (O’Brien, 1986). For a time development theory adopted Gershenkron’s more nuanced and non-linear model (Gerschenkron, 1962) that questioned Rostow’s stage two preconditions and argued for a wide range of substitutes for the prerequisites. Perhaps the most hopeful part of Gershenkron’s vision which we see resonating in the environmental movement today, (though most environmentalists are probably unaware of the heritage), was Gerschenkron’s suggestion that “backwardness” could actually work to a country’s advantage. This is because it offers "greater opportunities for fast growth once a successful institutional response had been created”. This sort of logic has been used recently by Newsweek Magazine (16th December, 2003) and the Toronto Star (Hamilton, 2004) to explain why China, for example, will have an easier time transitioning to the Hydrogen Economy than the U.S. – because China lacks the vast network of petrol stations with complicated franchise and partnership deals, and has an immature auto industry that has not heavily invested in machinery for producing ICE cars it can jump into the fuel cell era without too much political opposition, economic losses or conflict with vested interests. This is the notion of “leap-frogging” into sustainable development, often using “borrowed” technology (taking advantage of low R&D investment costs) and then improving it – a wholly different kind of take-off than Rostow envisioned. (See Taguchi, 2004 for a contemporary application of Gerschenkron’s ideas to environmental policy in his discussion of “Environmental Kuznets Curves and Latecomers’ Advantages in Selected Asian Economies”, also Iwami on latecomer advantages in pollution abatement, for reviews see O,Connor D, 1994; Panayatou, 1995). The logic is again that technology will come to the rescue and that the problem wasn't growth per se, but the A and T part of IPAT. Leapfrogging economies can dispense with the problems of the dirty industrial age and spring forward to a service economy or a clean production economy.
As I see it, this is still in alignment with the Rostovian notion that all countries will sooner or later take off intogrowth. Nowhere do these other models predict countries that will voluntarily give up the idea of sharing the fruits of modernism. Rostow should not be too quickly dismissed or caricatured. Although his critics characterize him as being rigidly linear, Rostow himself was the first to decry economic analyses whose forms were “so rigid and general that their models cannot grip the essential phenomenon of growth”. (Rostow, 1960, 13) He was looking for a dynamic theory to oppose “static assumptions which freeze – or permit only once-over change – in the variables most relevant to the processes of economic growth.” (Ibid). Furthermore, his sixth stage “Beyond Consumption” acknowledged the impossibilities of prediction and he quoted Thomas Mann’s novel of three penerations, (“the first sought money; the second, born to money, sought social and civic position; the third, born to comfort and family prestige, looked to the life of music”) suggesting we must anticipate “the changing aspirations of generations, as they place a low value on what they take for granted and seek new forms of satisfaction.” (p. 11). A reading of Rostow could be improved by looking at what people and societies take for granted and why, without making modernist assumptions about what people “should” want and take for granted, and by then applying his insight that “the demand for resources has resulted… not merely from demands set up by private taste and choice, but also from social decisions and from the policies of governments – whether democratically responsive or not." Rostow anticipated today's focus on integrating social, anthropological and uncosted environmental variables into analysis. He said,
"It is necessary, therefore to look at the choices made by societies in the disposition of their resources in terms which transcend conventional market processes. It is necessary to look at their welfare functions, in the widest sense, including the non-economic processes which determined them.” (p. 15, italics mine).
The tools and equations developed by these early economists are still valuable – it is the variables that must be reinterpreted. In a post-modern context, looking at the development of development theory, we find that it is valuable to mine the insights of both Rostow and Gerschenkron in a dialectic, not dualistic fashion, and use our greater sophistication to figure out what their insights have in common and where their models fall short. Says Crafts,
One of the benefits of the ecosystem model of the environment is that a) it helps us to understand what "growth" and "development" have meant to all the other organisms who have evolved with us on this planet, and b) inspires us to learn from nature how nature does things when nature does things "right" (i.e. sustainably). In their book Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things architect William McDonough and chemist John Braungart (2002) use the metaphor of a cherry tree to show how one of nature’s “factories” produces no waste or pollutants but simply creates inputs for other biological production processes. The implication is that we can eventually discover ways to close the production circle – something Barry Commoner has been championing since the first Earth Day. We will have turned all of our outputs into inputs and separated biological processes from abiotic processes so that there can be no dangers to health emitted into our environment. When we finally learn to mimic nature it is assumed we will then do things naturally, and that should be a good thing. We will be "back in the garden" so to speak. Of course there are three major problems with this notion – one is that it assumes a beneficence of nature that is epistemologically alien to the ecosystem model, i.e. it suggests that just because cherry trees have adapted to their environment in a way that allows the local ecosystem to flourish we will have the same luck. This is a non-rational teleological model of the universe that is more Gaian in the Deep Ecology sense than scientific. In fact there are many organisms (Casuarina trees and some Pine trees and, as the Roman’s discovered, Walnut trees) that will actually poison the soil they inhabit and dramatically reduce biodiversity. The late Harvard Paleontologist Stephen J. Gould (1992) gave numerous examples of evolutionary “hypertrophies” that drove their possessors extinct. In the struggle to create sustainable ecosystems many experiments were tried by many organisms and most of them and their strategies died off. It may turn out that in order to create the kind of durable products and the kind of relationships to the world that any reasonable civilization depends on (containers, materials and structures that don’t biodegrade during use, areas where competitive or parasitical or predatory organisms are excluded, surfaces that are comfortable and pathogen free and easy to clean, etc.) there are no reasonable substitutes for the factors of production we now use and no easy or cost effective use we can make of the wastes generated by their production. If this is the case much of the hope of industrial ecology will turn out to be hype. Second, if we do find economical ways to isolate the biological cycles of production from the inorganic cycles of production as industrial ecology demands, it may turn out that our sheer numbers and consumer appetites will demand more energy for production and recycling than we can cleanly supply and that any biological assimilation limited to the rates of solar income and enzymatic process will not be able to keep up with our needs. Pollution, after all, is essentially an assimilation rate problem (Fuller, 1981, pp. 220, 227). Third, even assuming we can tackle the above problems, the mere presence of a massive closed production loop of toxic substances, even if not normally released into the environment, suggests the possibility of dangerous contamination by natural disasters, negligence, warfare or terrorist activity.
The incidents at Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India, and past and present incidents in Cancer Alley, Lousiana, among many others show that even when dangerous substances are tightly guarded and controlled they can still have tremendous unforeseen effects (for coverage of the Bogalusa Incident of 1995 where a railroad car imploded, spewing nitrogen tetroxide into the black community, see Zimmerman’s essay “On Reconciling Progressivism and Environmentalism” for amazingly prescient modeling of the effects of Hurricanes such as Katrina, see Bourne Jr., 2004)
Furthermore, the unfortunate tendency of so many toxins to bioaccumulate over time (Landis and Ming-Ho, 1995) as we saw in the Minamata Bay disaster in Japan with methyl mercury (Smith, 1975) and with PCBs and DDT (Carson, 1962), suggests that the mere presence of these poisons in our biosphere today may spell disasters tomorrow that we cannot foresee. Some environmental toxicologists are now documenting the effects the constant discharge of hormones (endocrine disruptors) and antibiotics and medical wastes into our sewage system, for example (Landis and Yu, 1995). Though we are all heartened by the return of fish to the Thames (Wheeler, 1970) and the clean-up of the Bayer Industrial Site in Leverkusen, Germany (now the site of a riverfront park; see Bayer Sustainability Report) the statistics show that while environmentally degraded areas in the Northern rich countries are being restored (at great cost), dirty industries are simply moving their operations to the poorer countries where, on balance, the amount of degradation is orders of magnitude greater than it has ever been. In this way, Capitalist modes of production can wage a great green campaign, pulling out the odd success story and making a lot of ballyhoo about an exotic green technology, while doing its dirty work – the majority of its profit making portfolio – elsewhere. Thus we learn that, for all the talk, renewable energy still accounts for a mere 4% of the global energy market, while more oil was pumped and burned (an average of 83 million barrels a day) in 2005 than in all years previous. Even coal, once the scourge of John Evelyn’s Fumifugium in seventeeth century England and the textbook cause for the evolution of Biston betuluria, the peppered moth, is being mined and burned in quantities the coal barons of yesteryear could only dream of – Today 52% of the electricity in the US is still generated from burning coal, while China is emerging as one of the biggest coal burners on the planet. But since the media are controlled by conglomerates in countries that have indeed cleaned some of the more visible outrages of environmental degradation (the black faced chimney sweeps of Mary Poppin's England are indeed a think of the past), it certainly appears that things are getting better all the time.
Actually U.S. and World coal combustion have increased steadily from 1937 until the present from 500 to 1000 million metric tons and from 1500 to 4000 million metric tons respectively. Thus, despite all rhetoric about the shift from coal to oil being a major achievement in environmental quality improvements representing a historical transition from high carbon to low carbon fuel sources (with natural gas now emerging to "replace" oil and eventually hydrogen, a zero carbon fuel, replacing gas) the reality is that consumption of all forms of fossil fuel are rising. Instead of replacements we merely see additions. According to industry analyst Alex Gabbard by the year 2040, the year Bush announced we would transition to a hydrogen economy, coal use worldwide is expected to increase to 8000 million metric tons with the US accounting for 2500 of that.
But optimists hold out that we can and will discover ways out of this mess. Clinton, in his last State of the Union address in 2000 spoke of the new economic opportunities that environmental technologies would bring the nation so that we could have our cake and eat it too… the creative destruction of technology that Schumpeter talked about works nicely in a capitalist economy where every model of car or refrigerator or air conditioner is better than last years model – more efficient, sexier… thus we can consume our way to sustainability! To be environmentally friendly is not to repair and maintain old technology but to throw it out or trade it in. With this form of planned obsolescence we never face the underconsumption crisis that drove us into the first Depression and stimulated planned stagnation responses like Orwells vision in 1984.
In his final State of the Union Address (2000) U.S. President Bill Clinton made explicit the new opportunities available within this paradigm. He said,
The greatest environmental challenge of the new century is global warming. The scientists tell us the 1990s were the hottest decade of the entire millennium. If we fail to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, deadly heat waves and droughts will become more frequent, coastal areas will flood, and economies will be disrupted. That is going to happen, unless we act. Many people in the United States -- some people in this chamber -- and lots of folks around the world still believe you cannot cut greenhouse gas emissions without slowing economic growth. In the Industrial Age that may well have been true. But in this digital economy, it is not true anymore. New technologies make it possible to cut harmful emissions and provide even more growth. In the new century, innovations in science and technology will be the key not only to the health of the environment, but to miraculous improvements in the quality of our lives and advances in the economy.
Recently, cost-benefit analysis and market valuation of environmental services (transmutation of natural and social capital into financial capital) have emerged as powerful conceptual notions in environmental science and are changing the faces of “environmentalism” and “environmentalists” in the 21st century. The theoretical prowess of these concepts is now being applied by “greens” and “browns” alike to explain and develop various aspects of policy dynamics and functions. Their fundamental strength is considered to lie in the fact that they build on the power of the market – the traditional “enemy” of the environment – to repair the damage done, by making environmental stewardship profitable. They inherently lie outside the traditional duality of the powerful institutions of modern society – the state (regulator) and the market (perpetrator), and by using the weapons of both, resist their hegemonic forces. They have also been widely embraced by development and planning scholars to overcome many of the shortcomings that have rendered top-down “command and control development efforts ineffective (see “Rescuing Environmentalism” The Economist April 21 2005). These concepts dovetail with the ideology supporting decentralization and good governance, -- the other sweeping changes that have come about in development thinking and practice. In terms of development, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are the most prominent entities of civil society and are believed to be effective agents for extending sustainable development to the poor, introducing and implementing appropriate technologies (Schumacher, 1973), and delivering broad education in environmental and ecological perspectives. However the new paradigm seems to favor emerging technology companies working with government incentives and NGO’s to make environmental technologies and assessments of nature services a tradable “good”. In this endeavor, making environmental services profitable is held as desirable both as a means and an end.
Clean Production: Green washing or reality?
In environmental present, as in environmental past, there is deep skepticism over the true intentions of industries that use environmental rhetoric (see Turner's 1970 classic "Eco-Pornography or How to Spot an Ecological Phony" which was in The Environmental Handbook for the first Earth Day Teach-In; see also Frank, 2001:14) . The chief difference today is that emerging technology companies are themselves in competition with firms whose profits derive from externalization of residuals. So it is unclear whether they are merely trying to palliate the desired green consumer or literally seizing comparative advantage or competitive advantage over polluting and destructive industries (King, Lenox and Barnett, 2001) The marketing strategy of Delphi corporation, for example focuses on good citizenship – in fact they place it in an achievements folder on their website called “citizenship”.
Delphi: Driving Tomorrow’s Technology
“Environmental stewardship is not simply a catchword at Delphi, it is the guiding force behind our manufacturing processes and the products and technologies we create. In every aspect of our business, Delphi works to minimize negative environmental impact, with products and processes that 1) consider environmental impact from the beginning; 2) help reduce the effects of global warming; 3) decrease dependence on natural resources ; 4) use recycled materials and can be more easily recycled. Our "green" products not only help our customers comply with global environmental regulations, but also offer higher performance. This marriage of performance and environmental sensitivity creates greater value in Delphi products.” 
Alternative products and technologies can be pitched as having a less adverse effect on environment or health, or it can be pitched as a veritable solution to previous degradation. For example, LEV’s (Low emissions vehicles) such as the hybrid gas-electric cars of Toyota and Honda, are “an improvement” but ZEV’s (Zero Emission Vehicles), such as the now defunct GM EV-1 and the not-yet-on-the-market fuel cell cars promoted by BMW and Ford, are variously claimed to either end the vehicle pollution problem or, in some scenarios, such as Volvo's Versatility Concept Car, actually IMPROVE the quality of the air. (Gartner, Wired, April 21, 2003) General Electric has launched a big campaign introducing “clean coal” technology, but they don’t account for the residuals – neither global warming gases, nor removed sulfur nor the energy and materials costs associated with transforming coal to a ‘cleaner burning’ fuel. It is assumed, however, that these will be dealt with in some benign way. In Egypt, environmental engineer Salah El Haggar has developed clean production techniques that eliminate waste and turn it into feedstock for other industries; while Egypt doesn't have the ability to implement these techniques everywhere itself, it exports these technologies to other countries (El Haggar pers. comm.) As new industries come in they are turning out to be cleaner than their predecessors so policy is now focusing on ways to retire older dirty factories.
Transformations of habitat and ecosystems is a trickier issue. In landscape change there is much work on environmental restoration and on the creation of parkland and there is a resurgence of the “Green Cities” ideas of Ebenezer Howard and Frederick Law Olmsted, discussed in the last chapter. But there is tremendous skepticism about the consequences of this attempt to re-create “nature” – first there is a lack of confidence that we are capable of replicating the functional characteristics of ecosystems. After his landmark studies of Island Biogeography and species-area effects with MacArthur, E.O. Wilson stated that the Earth itself was probably the minimum size for a functional biosphere that would not drive itself to extinction. He therefore doubted that the colonization of space would ever bear fruitful results without continual (and costly) subsidies from our home planet. The failure of the expensive Biosphere II project in Arizona seemed to confirm this suspicion.
Second, there is a feeling that the commodification of landscapes and organisms as “frames” and “spectacles” for human consumption (Cronon, 1996, Spirn, 1996, Davis, 1997) radically alters their role as ecosystem service providers and biases them toward human valuations which are fickle and may have no relation to their co-evolutionary relationships with the web of life as a whole. Organisms and ecosystems then become subject to artificial selection more than natural selection, and the traits selected may lead to hypertrophies that can in turn lead to extinction (Pollan, 2001, Pollan 1992, Gould, 1977). Some are questioning whether eco-tourism really has the power to preserve natural landscapes in all their complexity or whether it will simply lead to more simplification according to the demands of the theatre goers expectations of nature (Mastny, 2002, Weiskel, 1987). In a recent interview Jerry Mander expressed this concern saying “authentic places are beginning to advertise their features in order to promote tourism. They become commodified versions of themselves." The interviewer commented: "The irony is that we are trying to re-create what we've been busy destroying all these years. It's like the example you give of advertisements on television selling us back our feelings of connection. Now we'll have to buy back Eden--in a dome." Mander replied, "Yes, people will have nature inside domes, but little nature outside anymore.“ (Ingram, 1991) The Eden project in England is an example of such biodiversity in a dome as are many contemporary zoos and aquaria.
Whether society will ultimately accept ersatz nature as the real thing may be besides the point however. The real questions move beyond form to function – will the ecosystem services be rendered intact? Is “domed” nature inevitably doomed, as it was in the 3 acre glass biosphere experiment, where, despite the heroic efforts of the 8 scientists inside, oxygen levels dropped from 21% to 14%, nitrous oxide concentrations were high enough to impair the brain, algae, vines, cockroaches and ants had population explosions, all the pollinators died, food became scarce and the extinction rates were so high that 19 out of 25 vertebrates were lost (Cohen and Tillman, 1996) ? What will the costs be relative to the benefits? Is it even technically feasible? G. Evelyn Hutchinson in his seminal paper, “Homage to Santa Rosalia, or Why Are There So Many Kinds of Animals” answered the question with a theory that is still considered controversial among ecologists. He contended that “there is species diversity partly because ecosystem complexity increasesstability”(Hutchinson, 1959). The concept of nature’s buffering services aiding humanity over the long haul may be contingent on the very biodiversity we are now wiping out.
III. Cognition -- The Mental Realm of Ideas, Ethics, Myths and So On.
There are many myths about what goes in nature: foundation stories, “Lost Eden” narratives, ethos and ethics debates, market, use value and economic arguments, cultural practice issues – as Candace Slater (1996, 451) says, “Nature is a noun with a necessary multiplicity of modifiers, if not a singular in desperate need of pluralization. Amazonian nature isn’t Californian or Japanese nature, except on the very broadest of levels.” With so many definitions of nature, it becomes hard to decide what in nature can be exploited and what should be saved. But this may be beside the point.
Lost in this debate about “the nature of nature” is an understanding of how, even if we could decide what is “natural” and what “un-natural”, the dichotomization of “degradation” and “recuperation” when applied to “nature” really affects the way we conceptualize it and hence limit our possibilities for interacting with it. By focusing on nature as something “out there” to be used or protected, we ignored the hidden dimensions of the interplay between human and non-human beings and systems that make up the world around us. But in conceiving of “everything as natural”, we lose insight into what Faustian bargains we have made that can lead to our own destruction. We ignore the value of “taboos” that warn us away from meddling, like the sorcerer’s apprentice, with forces that will escape our control (Mander, 1991) and we lose sight of the chief benefit of transcendent human culture which is not just “a collection of relics or ornaments, but a practical necessity [whose] corruption invokes calamity” as Wendell Berry reminds us. “A healthy culture is a communal order of memory, insight, value, work, conviviality, reverence, aspiration. It reveals the human necessities and the human limits. It clarifies our inescapable bonds to the earth and to each other. It assures that the necessary restraints are observed, that the necessary work is done, and that it is done well.” (Wendell Berry, 1977 p. 238 in Sources). Those who would see humans as just another group of competing animals miss the stewardship ethic, present in the many “Flood and Ark” myths, which is perhaps our most promising behavioral adaptation.
There are advantages to mixing nature and civilization in our minds of course. For example, it is now being recognized that among the most important “nature” hotspots on the planet are “urban areas”, commonly written off as “un-natural” spaces (Botkin and Beverage, 1997). Ironically, in the urban landscape, a huge amount of biodiversity exists and with it the possibility to use our built environment as a kind of modern ark (Croake, 1998). As urban development encroaches on previously unmanaged landscapes many issues, ideological and epistemological, emerge and are played out in the context of urban construction and environmentalists are discovering that “cities aren’t so bad after all”. But in celebrating the tenacity of non-humans that survive in our concrete jungles we carelessly toss away any notion of the “sacredness” of wilderness that led us to protect unmanaged buffer zones whose ecosystem services are invaluable and irreplaceable.
Environmentalism Present, occurring at a time of rampant urbanization and globalization, must, of course, include ideas and ideologies of nature as they unfold in urban and urbanizing regions. Under the rubric of agro-ecology it includes a notion of agricultural zones as potential sites of biodiversity restitution (The State of the World, 2002). It assumes a world in which people, their effects and concerns, are everywhere, but in which people might not be (must not be?) so bad after all. It contains development paradoxes such as the idea that many of Africa’s environmental dilemmas are not caused by overpopulation, but by underpopulation. (Djibril Diallo, chief spokesman, UN Office for Emergency Operations in Africa has said "Of all the myths about Africa prevailing in the West, none is propagated with more vigor and regularity than the notion that overpopulation is a central cause of African poverty....Indeed, in many African regions the problem is underpopulation."; still it should be noted that Africa’s population, 100 million in 1900, is now over 800 million and expanding at the fastest mean annual growth rate of any other continent, 2.9%, expected to reach 1.6 billion in the next quarter century according to the American Museum of Natural History, (Slack, 2003), so it is difficult to understand how African productivity could decline because of underpopulation with an 8 fold increase over the last century. Population distribution may provide a better answer as rural depopulation has led to profit crises everywhere – see Wallerstein, 1997, also Sen, Gita (1994)).
Environmentalism Present contains powerful critiques of the neo-Malthusian scares of Environmentalism past. It blames much environmental degradation on poverty, and blames poverty on a lack of political and economic freedom (Sen, 1999). By looking at (and even celebrating) how nature is constructed and manifested, recreated and displayed in “the built environment” -- cities, parks, theme parks, zoos, botanical gardens, eco-villages, business and residential developments and other active “cultural landscapes” (some recognized by the IUCN! – Bridgewater and Bridgewater, 2002), “environmentalism present” differs from the wave of environmentalism that became mainstream in the last century, with its popular focus on “the wild”, on bald eagles, whales and redwood trees and edenic spaces of refuge. Environmentalism present hopes to preserve or reclaim the “hidden natures” that environmentalism past would have shuddered to call nature at all. It contains a wide body of literature that pardons or exalts the status of these hybrid natures, increasingly cast in utilitarian cloth as “ecosystem services” which, like Sherlock Holme’s purloined letter – are concealed in plain view all around us but sustain our lives. It embraces the idea of a socially constructed nature, and recognizes that cultures produce particular landscapes that evolve from particular ideologies of nature. Environmentalism present makes tangible the “reality of nonhuman features and phenomena” that modern life depends on (Anne Spirn, Ibid, 448). It accepts offshore and mountain-range farms of tall white wind turbines as “green”, and applauds vats of algae and bacteria churning out fuel and foodstuff as being a form of “cooperation with nature”. By making heretofore invisible nature visible, even as visible nature, viewed from space, gets fragmented out of existence, environmentalismpresent presents the hopeful fantasy that planners will have a better idea, when confronted with nature in the age of global urbanization, of what to do and how to go about it.
Capitalism: The Defining Myth of Our Age?
According to Daly, the orthodox growth economics that define Capitalism are a "generalization of the chain-letter swindle… the current beneficiaries of the swindle, those at the beginning of the chain, try hard to keep up the illusion among those doubters at the end who are beginning to wonder if there are really sufficient resources in the world for the game to continue very much longer…" (p. 9 Steady State economics). Wallerstein (1997) agreed and argued that nobody wants to foot the bill at the end of the thermodynamic chain. Maxwell's demon does not exist to reorder and add value to the high entropy outputs of accumulation, he pointed out. According to the logic of the Capitalist system, environmental cleanup and restoration proposals (turning high entropy states back into useful low entropy states),
"are indeed too costly, by and large, if we define the issue in terms of maintaining the present average rate of profit. They are too costly by far. Given the deruralization of the world and its already serious effect upon the accumulation of capital, the implementation of significant ecological measures, seriously carried out, could well serve as the coup de grace to the viability of capitalist world economy." (p. 4)
"In Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy (CSD, 1942), Schumpeter presented his paradoxal thesis that capitalism will destroy its own foundation, not by failure but by its success", say Albrecht and Gobbin (2001) in "Schumpeter and the Rise of Modern Environmentalism". But nobody knows what will be built on the shifting and eroded sands that remain.
They say that Capitalism, fleeing its own mortally wounding internal contradictions, rather than evolving naturally into the Socialist Utopia that Marx and Engels predicted, uses two mechanisms to survive 1) the spatial fix and 2) the many headed hydra metamorphosis. The spatial fix is akin to Timothy Weiskel’s perpetual 4th act of the colonialist eco-drama (Weiskel 1987) referred to in Chapter 1. Capitalism, unable to consume and transform natural resources without regulation on home soil, simply migrates to areas with lax or no regulations. This spatial fix is one of the underlying ideas of dependency and underdevelopment theory (Myrdal, 1957, Gunder Frank, 1975) – in the zero-sum game of resource extraction and utilization, for the developed countries to continue their prosperity, another region must suffer the losses in ecosystem services that underpin the profit margins of the extractive or polluting industry. But this cannot continue indefinitely. “Capitalism's transformation of the earth undermines its own social reproduction at the same time as it endangers the planet's capacity to support human life” affirmed Immanuel Wallerstein recently (1999, 2002). From this perspective, the contradiction between capitalism's relentless expansion and biospheric sustainability suggests, as Wallerstein has been arguing for some time now, that we are living not in an age of globalization but rather in an "age of transition" from one historical system to another.
On the other hand, the many headed hydra school believes this new system will in fact be "industrial ecology". It is this second fix that we see emerging in the “developed countries” and in the logic of “sustainable development – the “kinder gentler” capitalism that George Bush Sr. talked about when he dubbed himself the “environmental president” – a supposedly green capitalism that embraces industrial ecology and makes its profits in the old Fordist way – by articulating economies and ending disarticulated accumulation (DeJanvry, 1981) increasing the wages and welfare of its working class (like the 5 dollar day) so they can recycle those dollars right back to the company. Green capitalism is clever – in Tom Sawyer fashion it tries to get the consumer to pay not only for the goods her consumes but for the recycling of the containers and materials and effluents. As Tony Freiji, CEO of Wadi Holdings, a major agroindustrial corporation in Egypt told me, “I would never separate my own garbage. It is a waste of my time. Here in Egypt we have a class of people called the Zabaleen who make their living sorting the garbage we throw out. Somehow in countries like Germany they have fooled the average consumer into wasting their precious time doing it.” If Capital can continue to pass the buck to the consumer and somehow make a cleaner healthier environment profitable (as Arif's "Gateway to Profitable Environmental Compliance" presentation for the World Bank suggests) then Capitalism may well survive, even if a vast number of species and ecosystems and poor people do not.
But as prize-winning Egyptian Economist Galil Amin (1998) writes with bitter irony,
"Egyptian landowners of the 1930s and 1940s knew quite well, and were often even ready to admit that the Egyptian peasant was the real source of their prosperity. In the eyes of today's ruling elite, however, the Egyptian peasant, along with the industrial laborer and the government employee, are something of a burden and a nuisance. Such people only eat and drink and reproduce, while burdening the state budget with their incessant demands for food subsidies which inevitably reduce what is available to spend on improving the country's infrastructure. The children of these lowly beings encroach on the beautiful beaches bringing such noise and ugliness with them that the beaches become almost uninhabitable. In short, as far as the newly portrayed upper class is concerned, the great majority of the Egyptian population have no real justification for living at all, and the world would be a much better place without them." (p. 144).
This sentiment is certainly echoed in the response the Bush Administration gave to victims of Hurricane Katrina and in the way World Governments are approaching the AIDS epidemic. But it may not be merely Capitalism that we need fear.
Karl Polanyi (1944) wrote a classic book called "The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time" in which he described the greatest change to come over Europe some two centuries ago that has since transformed the rest of the world and, recently, our mainstream approach to environmentalism. This change, he insisted, was not the advent of capitalism. Nor was it the enlightenment, or advances in science and technology. According to Polanyi, it was the creation of 'the market system' in which, for the first time "the market engulfed such things as agricultural land and human labor which had not been considered marketable commodities until then." (Amin, 1998, p. 170). Indeed, this system is distinguished from all other ways of relating to the environment by its insistence that everything has a price and is thus tradeable in transactions of buying and selling. For Polyani, Capitalism and Socialism were both to be considered mere variants of this overarching conceptual philosophy, both have caused their social and environmental holocausts and famines, and this is why many radical environmentalists hold no hope for either approach to solve our environmental woes. But there are many others in both world systems of government who believe that the market (or government control of the market) can be used very effectively to preserve environmental values, once they are priced properly.
Story Telling – Plurivocity vs. Grand Narratives
In Environmentalism Past it was assumed that if we just had all the right information we would see the error of our ways and make amends. This linear Positivist Enlightenment narrative (Lyotard, 1984; Thachankary, 1992; Boje, 1995 )is cast into doubt by the realities of Environmentalism Present in the Information Age. Our greater sophistication (in terms of obtaining sheer quantities of information) is merely giving ever greater armaments to an expanded number of ideological positions. Despite the green gloss, our ideas about nature and our environment and what and how to preserve what we value (if we could even figure out what we value, let alone price it) are perhaps more confused than ever.
At the dawn of contemporary Environmental Economics, Ayers and Kneese (1969) applied the first and second laws of thermodynamics to economic models and by using the argument that all economic activity involves a transformation of matter and must conform to the law of conservation of mass and energy, argued that externalities “are a necessary outcome of all production and consumption processes” (Weinberg and Newbold, 2002). Similarly Ernst Worrell writes: “Historically, society and industry have operated as an open system, transforming resources to products or services and emitting wastes and pollutants to the environment at all stages of the life cycles.” Bhaskar Nath, Luch Hens and David Pimentel also believe that “it is hard to find any human activity or intervention for economic development that has been beneficial, benign or cost-free to the natural environment" (quoted in Desrochers, 2002, p. 1)
But in “Does It Pay to Be Green? Some Historical Perspective” Pierre Desrochers, (2002) takes on these arguments and those of such authors as Richard Florida and Derek Davison (in a book sponsored by Resources for the Future) and Paul Hawken and Amory and L. Hunter Lovins (in their best-seller Natural Capitalism), who claim that “Since the dawn of the industrial age, the goals of economic growth and enhanced environmental quality have been at odds” (Florida and Davidson 2001: 82-83) and that traditional capitalism is a "’financially profitable [but] nonsustainable aberration in human development' rooted in wasteful practices that result in ecological strain causing not only the loss of forests, topsoil, fisheries and freshwater, but also ‘poverty, hunger, malnutrition, rampant disease, crime, corruption, lawlessness, anarchy and refugee populations’”. Descrochers critizes the “widespread belief among contemporary writers on sustainability that past economic development was characterized by wasteful practices.” Citing “numerous cases where the profit motive led to so-called ‘win-win’ situations where firms improved their bottom line while reducing their environmental impact” he observes that “the incentives behind such behavior are as old as market economies”. His book goes on to provide historical evidence to make the case that it has always paid to be green.
Jaffe et. Al. (1995), also dispute that production always has to be dirty and depleting. They point out the logic that gave firms the idea that they had to make a tradeoff between environmental health and profit:
“Natural resource endowments have been a particularly important determinant of trading patterns (see, for example, Edward E. Leamer 1984). Having recognized this, we note that when a firm pollutes, it is essentially using a natural resource (a clean environment), and when a firm is compelled or otherwise induced to reduce its pollutant emissions, that firm has, in effect, seen its access to an important natural resource reduced. Industries that lose the right to pollute freely may thus lose their comparative advantage, just as the copper industry in developed countries lost its comparative advantage as copper resources dwindled in those regions. The result is a fall in exports.” (P. 143)
But they contest this conclusion vigorously, saying that although
“the conventional wisdom is that environmental regulations impose significant costs, slow productivity growth, and thereby hinder the ability of U.S. firms to compete in international markets [and] this loss of competitiveness is believed to be reflected in declining exports, increasing imports, and a long-term movement of manufacturing capacity from the United States to other countries, particularly in 'pollution-intensive' industries…under a more recent, revisionist view, environmental regulations are seen not only as benign in their impacts on international competitiveness, but actually as a net positive force driving private firms and the economy as a whole to become more competitive in international markets” (p. 133)
If Jaffe et. al. and Desrochers are correct, then why does anybody pollute at all? The usual answer seems to be based on time horizons and scale – the very argument given by Meadows et. al. in “The Limits to Growth” with their space-time graph where they claim, “Although the perspectives of the world’s people vary in space and time, every human concern falls somewhere on the space-time graph. The majority of the world’s people are concerned with matters that affect only family and friends over a short period of time. Others look further ahead in time or over a larger area – a city or anation. Only a very few people have a global perspective that extends far into the future.” (quoted in Goldfarb, 1997, p. 50).
We come back to the idea that "pollution is somebody's profit" and that environmentalism, past or present, is a subversive activity that exposes the “hidden costs” and "dirty secrets" of certain power holders and that environmentalism's push for full cost accounting implies that somebody has consciously been trying to hide them. Because if it is true that the same incentives have always existed for Clean Production (CP) and industrial ecology as Desrochers and Jaffe insist, then the only conclusion we can draw is that human shortsightedness and greed have always been behind environmental destruction. Buckminster Fuller was a little more generous when he stated that unsustainable practices may have been understandable until around 1973 (when we began a serious appraisal and use of renewable energy) but that,
“it is now highly feasible to take care of everybody on Earth at a 'higher standard of living than any have ever known.' It no longer has to be you or me. Selfishness is unnecessary and henceforth unrationalizable as mandated by survival. War is obsolete . . . It is a matter of converting the high technology from weaponry to livingry. The essence of livingry is human life advantaging and environmental controlling.” (Fuller, 1981)
Fuller, like Schumpeter, believed in technology as the way out (assuming that technology was the way in in the first place). He wrote
"While it is fairly simple to write a list of socioeconomic conditions we consider to be fundamental to omnihumanity's sustainable physical and metaphysical success, we must remember that our grand strategy is based on producing the artifacts that will induce the right behaviors rather than depending on politically enacted and enforced reforms." (Ibid, p. 252).
During the past few years, a heated debate has arisen in the United States revolving around these views. (Jafee, 1995 P. 133) A paradox emerges here – on the one hand it is assumed by those who believe environmental regulations are a net tax on the economy that in the past it was harder for firms to be green, and that improvements simply await the introduction of technological innovations that can make being green cost competitive. This “technological fix” view puts pollution and degradation behind us. Technoptimists like Bjorn Lomborg even go so far as to tout the virtues of renewable energy resources when claiming “the evidence clearly shows that we are NOT headed for a major energy crisis." There is "plenty of energy” he says, “there are many options using renewable energy sources. Today, they make up a vanishingly small part of the global energy production, but this can and probably will change. The cost of both solar energy and wind energy has dropped by 94-98 percent over the last 20 years such that they have become much closer to being strictly profitable.” (p. 135) But his sudden embrace of Green Technology in order to defend his utopian thesis that there is nothing to worry about comes after he spends an entire chapter putting down the claims of renewable energy advocates, saying dismissive things like “Virtually every year, Lester Brown makes much of the fact that the use of renewable energy sources grows much faster than that of oil… But such growth rate comparisons are misleading because, with wind making up just 0.05 percent, double-digit growth rates are not all that hard to achieve. In 1998, the amount of energy in the 2 percent oil increase was still 323 times bigger than the 22 percent increase in wind energy. Even in the unlikely event that the wind power growth rate could continue, it would take 46 consecutive years of 22 percent growth for wind to outgrow oil.” (p. 131)
This could be muddled thinking or it could be part of the disinformation campaign that Beder (1998) talks about. Either way it paralyzes meaningful change in the present because it tells us “the future will take care of itself. It is an inevitably brighter future than today, people like Lomborg contend, so all we have to do is let the invisible hand do its work and no matter the suffering we must endure to get there, paradise awaits. It is a decidedly eschatological, linear, Judeo Christian view.
It’s counterpart is equally eschatological and Judeo-Christian though (White, 1967). Its epistemology harkens to notions of lost Edens and Golden Ages. We look to the past for examples of “traditional practices” that were benign or gentler on the earth than modern mechanized industrial processes and we are taught to see new technologies as ever more threatening to ecosystems and human welfare. In this view, popularized by writers such as Jeremy Rifkin (Rifkin, 1980, 1984) the problem is seen as the inevitable result of commodification and the pressures of mass production. This view puts pollution and degradation still ahead of us, driven by the relentless demand of rising population. The end result isArmageddon. Bracketed by paradises lost and paradises to come it is no wonder that people find it hard to focus on what needs to be done today.
There is certainly support for the “golden past” view in agriculture. Harriet Friedmann’s, “Modernity and the Hamburger: Cattle and Wheat in Ecological and Culinary Change” shows that Science has not always and need not always create systems of simplification and degradation. She cites the example of English High Farming and how a mixed system of animals and crops kept the land fertile. She points to the problem of landscape simplification and its effect on the environment and points the finger at modernity for making this faulty system the worldwide norm. The “back to the land” movements and the neo-indigenous practice hybridizations of permaculture and biodynamic agriculture could be interpreted as merely a mixed bag of outcomes and best practices from global human trials and errors, but they are most often characterized as some mystical return to a mythical past when wiser forefathers and foremothers (who allegedly exist in indigenous cultures) used superior technologies (in the sustainability sense) and knew how to live more “gently on the earth”.
One can argue that in the long run we must return to mixed use farming not just to keep up profits but to be able to use the land at all. Environmental optimists shake their fingers in an “I told you so fashion” telling those who would despoil nature that the transition to the green economy is inevitable. But by that token, as Bridge an McManus (2000) inform us, Marxian economists have told us that capitalism will inevitably surrender to socialism. The problem is that by then the robber barons, true to their name, will have stolen everything the land has to offer and made a quick exit. And for some theorists that, in a nutshell, is what environmental degradation is really all about: theft.
Contemporary Egyptian scientists, like Environmental Engineer Dr. Salah El Haggar, who lives in one of the most polluted cities on earth, writes, “Environmental degradation is the exhaustion of the world’s natural resources; land, air, water, soil, etc. It occurs due to crimes committed by humans against nature…” (El Haggar and Gowini, 2004, p. 334)
It is rare to hear scientists make such bold statements. We are trained to beat around the bush, to disavow conspiracy theories, to soften our criticisms of those whose practices are forfeiting our childrens’ future or condemning other non-humans to extinction. It is considered extremely impolite to point the finger at specific firms or individuals. This is the job of radicals. For academics and politicians it is expected that the rhetoric will be blameless and generalized. But at a certain point one cannot help a certain amount of moral indignation. El Haggar continues, “To most investors over-exploitation of natural resources is more profitable in the short run, due to cheap means of disposing wastes, avoiding costs of waste treatment and the exclusion of social losses in cost calculations. However, in the long run natural resources will be depleted and the losses will be irreversible. Due to the severity of environmental degradation in the Arab world, the World Bank and the Mediterranean Environmental Technical Assistance Program (METAP) have conducted studies to present a cost assessment of environmental degradation” (Ibid).
But even though the World Bank/METAP COED studies have put an initial price tag on Environmental Degradation that demonstrates a net loss to the Egyptian economy of 3.2 to 6.4% of GDP (as much as 19 Billion Egyptian Pounds per year, equivalent to nearly 4 billion dollars) (Sarraf and Larsen, 2002) these costs are not borne by society as a whole. As the World Bank points out, discussing the costs and benefits of practices that affect the environment, “The poor are rarely the main beneficiaries of these changes and are often left without alternatives or compensation. Thus, although it is conventional to speak of tradeoffs between conservation and economic development or poverty alleviation, in many case the actual tradeoff may be between large-scale economic development and local impoverishment because natural ecosystems have not been conserved.” (World Bank, Directions in Development, 2002 p. 3)
The current approach permeating the environmental movement is a "let's work within the capitalist framework now that it is the only game in town" ideology. In our chapter on environmentalism past I suggested that the dominant theme for the first wave of the environmental movement was the “rights” approach. Environmentalism was bundled up with civil rights, women’s rights and anti-war efforts that used moral indignation as leverage. In his encyclopedic review "The Rights of Nature: A History of Environmental Ethics" (1989) Roderick Nash placed modern environmentalism within the mainstream of American liberalism (McEvoy, 1990). Today, with these approaches losing efficacy, environmentalists are turning to the toolkits of their former adversaries and competitors. We thus see a heavy emphasis on environmental economics, environmental services and environmental justice in approaches used by the second wave environmentalists, wherein all are trying to argue with, as Lebanese Environmental Economist Marwan Owaygen puts it, "dollars and cents rather than emotions and common sense". (Owaygen, 2005, pers. comm.)
Environmental Economics: The Market Approach
There is historical evidence for the idea that the market is and always has been the prime determinant of environmental policy, regardless of the political or ideological climate of the time. In other words, if economic circumstances favor (or at least permit) a given policy, it will filter into the mainstream from the background noise of dissent or ethical concern, but if there are no sets of powerholders who can derive economic benefits from said policy it will remain in the realm of marginalized or repressed ideas. By conceiving of the market as the driver of all policy, advocates of the market approach believe that the best way to solve environmental problems is not to champion the “rights” of living creatures and systems, but simply to calculate their net value through such devices as "Marginal Willingness to Pay" and other decidedly anthropocentric metrics. If the case can be made that it is more "efficient" to preserve ecosystems and maintain wildlife in their "born free" state (Adamson, 1968, 1987) then they will be left alone. Otherwise they will have to be brought into some form of price-capturing captivity, either by privatizing the commons or by creating managed parks and zoos, wildlife ranches and environmental-service-providing buffer zones. Freedom – in this case from human interference, management or exploitation – is an ideal that must be bought and sold at a competitive price.
The idea that freedom has a market price has also been extended by some scholars to other movements that appear to have driven policy changes favoring welfare and justice. For example, Domar (1970) used purely economic arguments to explain “the causes of slavery or serfdom” and economist Paul Krugman recently summarized his points agreeing that “there’s no point in enslaving or enserfing a man unless the wage you would have to pay him if he was free is substantiallyabove the cost of feeding, housing, and clothing him”. He states ironically “why hasn't indentured servitude made a comeback in the modern era? Yes, I know, human rights and all that - but if it was profitable to have indentured servants inthe modern world, I'm sure that Richard Scaife's think tanks would have no trouble finding justifications, and assorted Christian groups would explain why it's God's will.” (Krugman, 2003; The Washington Post calls Scaife the "the funding father of the right").
Krugman's logic certainly pertains to the environmental crisis. As Bill Moyer's pointed out on Receiving Harvard Medical School's Global Environment Citizen Award in 2004, the Bush administration, having found that it is still quite profitable to degrade the environment at the expense of human and non-human rights championed by environmental justice advocates and deep ecologists respectively, have supported assorted Christian groups and are openly invoking God's will to justify an approaching ecological Armageddon.
Krugman’s economic perspective dismisses “human rights and all that” as being secondary to the evil machinations of power holders and assumes that all moral or ethical advances are predicated on the right economic conditions. This has been considered true in many rights movements. Along these lines Loyola College economics professor Thomas DiLorenzo has argued that the Civil War had very little to do with abolition sentimentality although he notes “One thing that can never be admitted in polite academic company is the notion that economics had anything to do with the American War between the States.” Still he argues that the emancipation of the blacks was more an effect of the rising economic power of northern industrialism which, in essence, introduced another kind of slavery to the American labor market that worked more efficiently through subsistence wages and without an overt racial bias. “Labor market protectionism was a basis for Lincoln’s opposition to the extension of slavery” DiLorenzo claims. In this rather cynical view Abolitionist protests lent ideological support to a transformation that would have occurred anyway (see Engerman, 1986 for more on economic grounds for ending slavery and Carlyle, 1849 for economic grounds for perpetuating it).
A similar argument is made with regard to women’s liberation – some authors (LaFargue, 1900; Mitchell, 1971; Hayden, 1982, Cowan, 1983; Cohen, 1984; Hayden, 1995; Albee and Perry, 1998; Barnett, 2004) argue that the growing American economy and its global followers demanded a rising percentage of white collar women in the labor market (blue collar or working class women had been “liberated” from the home to work for hundreds of years in Western societies without gaining any political rights whatsoever), and that both new domestic technology, mass produced at a reasonable cost (washing machines for clothes and dishes, electric ironing boards, sewing machines) and the availability of women of color and immigrant women for cheap domestic services made it cost effective for white women to enter the market. This also created a new form of “slavery” (drudgery) that belied the promised emancipation (Zimmerman, 1982; Cowan, 1983; Hubbard, 1983). As one can see in popular films about the period from 1950 through 1975, such as Julia Robert’s “Mona Lisa Smile”, the highly educated class of ivy league graduated household reproducers could not be released into areas of managerial labor assistance without attendant improvements in “rights” and “status” and so a show was put on suggesting, by proxy, that as this elite group of women were “emancipated”, so were their struggling sisters. This view, described in extremis by Bob Black in his influential essay, “The abolition of Work”, grows out of a classic essay by women’s rights activist Paul Lafargue, Karl Marx’s nephew, called “The Right to be Lazy” (Lafargue, 1883). Both authors question the notion that work can ever be emancipatory; Lafargue, in “The Woman Question” (1904) went so far as to say “… Capitalism has not snatched woman from the domestic hearth and launched her into social production to emancipate her, but to exploit her more ferociously than man…” (p.11) Simone de Beauvoir held similar views and a despair that liberation movements are dependent on economic factors and production technology; the implication is that any gains in rights or freedoms can be quickly erased by a new economic regime (or the return to an old one):
"I never cheished any illusion of changing woman's condition; it depends on the future of labour in the world; It will change significantly only at the price of a revolution in production. That is why I avoided falling into the trap of 'feminism"' (de Beauvoir quoted in Mitchell 1973, p. 65).
Meanwhile, contemporary authors such as Hubbard and Zimmerman warn us that women must have political and financial control over new technologies and must gain control of the design and creation phases of technological development for there to be any meaningful change or “women will find themselves replaying a familiar scenario in which new technologies serve to reinforce old values” (Zimmerman, 1982, p. 355).
In a similar cynical vein some authors believe that now that we are turning to the market, the supposed extension of “rights” to ecosystems and non-humans that emerged during the first wave of environmentalism, inspired by Aldo Leopold’s Land Ethic, has likewise failed, producing only the illusion of freedom from inevitable destructive encroachment and exploitation. Indeed Environmentalism Present looks a lot like the early Conservation movement, merely nuanced by new dollar values for "intrinsic values" based on Marginal Willingness to Pay (MWTP) calculations. Indeed despite all the talk about "animal liberation" (Singer, 1990) and "deep ecology" (Sessions, 1995) nature, perhaps doomed to be eternally "feminized" as the powerless victim of the market's rapist tendancies (Merchant, 1982) is also replaying that "familiar scenario in which new technologies merely serve to reinforce old values." Without a true “revolution in production technology” that could make exploitation of key natural resources irrelevant, some authors, such as Fazlun Khalid (2002a, 2002b) who spoke at the Muslim Convention on Sustainable Development at Johanessberg, and Val Plumwood (2002) suggest that despite all the international protocols and regulations we are actually moving backwards , or, in Plumwood’s most startling metaphor, ahead to an even worse future:
“in the ecological parallel to the Titanic story, we have reached the stage in the narrative where we have received the iceberg warning, and have made the remarkable decision to double the engine speed to Full Speed Ahead and go below to get a good night’s rest.” (Introduction, p.1)
Khalid stated the Third World Perspective (one often ignored in the master narratives of the west) at the “parallel event” at the earth summit (the one that world media largely neglected):
“poverty and excessive consumption put enormous pressure on the environment and sustainable development remains largely theoretical for the majority of the world’s population of 6000 million people. In a sentence, in spite of all the talking, report writing, the legislating and institution building, very little progress has been made on the ground.” (2002a, p. 1)
If we turn to Amin again we read an Egyptian perspective that it isn't really Westernization per se that is plaguing the countries of the South (the greatest losers of environmental services and quality in the 21st century)
"it may also be that something more ominous is taking place. I personally am inclined to think that Karl Polanyi was right in putting so much emphasis on the emergence and spread of 'the market culture'. If this is as applicable to Egypt as it is elsewhere, it would mean that we are now witnessing the gradual encroachment of something much more sinister than open-door policies, capitalism and westernization. It could be nothing less than a process of metamorphosis in which everything is gradually being turned into a commodity, the object of a commercial transaction, including man's very soul." (p. 174)
Econometric Models Driving Policy
Yet numbers are so neat and equations resolve themselves so nicely, surely econometrics is the way to make sense of this mess and fix things. Numeric models impose a legibility on the chaotic landscape. In discussing why “…certain schemes to improve the human condition have failed” James Scott (1998) elaborated on Korzybski’s (1931) warning that “the map is not the territory”; yet, we continue to use abstractions to make predictions about what is really going on out there in the real world. Many authors have noted that World Bank Development policies, particular those in the 1992 report, seemed to have emerged from a confidence in one model in particular -- a fictive ‘Environmental Kuznet’s Curve” (EKC) that may not be empirically demonstrable at all. The EKC is an inverted U-shape relation with resource use or waste production on the Y axis and income on the X; as income rises consumption and externalities initially increase, but at some point, with affluence, they theoretically decrease because inefficiencies and residuals can be internalized as institutions and technologies and expertise grow in quality, consumer preferences change and environmental quality increases in value and there are increasing returns to scale for abatement techniques. (See Andreoni and Levenson, 2001, Arrow et. al., 1995)
Many people, from businessmen and economists to policy makers have been applying the logic of the hypothetical environmental Kuznets curve to argue that economic growth is somehow a panacea for environmental degradation. The World Bank declared “economic growth is essential for environmental stewardship” in its 1992 World Development Report and GATT (1992) delivered a similar policy message derived from the EKC literature (Deacon and Norman, 2004). Statements appear in influential and even peer reviewed journals like “existing environmental regulation, by reducing economic growth, may actually be reducing environmental quality." (Bartlett , Wall Street Journal, 1994)) and "in the end the best – and probably the only – way to attain a decent environment in most countries is to become rich," (Beckerman , World Development, 1992). These ideas are extant and seem irresponsibly close to statements made by the unabashedly anti-environmentalist, libertarian LM party member, financial journalist, Daniel Ben-Ami. He represents a group of thinkers critical of Environmental Economics, not because the don't like the idea of putting a price tag on everything, but because they think shadow prices might be damaging to progress and thus lead to greater injustices.
One of the most striking but least noticed aspects of the rise of environmentalism is the way that it has helped to redefine economics. Economic production and consumption are viewed in a fundamentally different way than they were before environmentalism became central to the dominant worldview. Environmentalist assumptions that, at the very least, should be the subject of debate are unquestioningly accepted.Environmentalism has become central to the mainstream outlook, rather than the particular property of green parties or organisations. This development isn't just important at the level of ideas. A gloomy view of economic development plays an important role in holding back human potential. At its starkest, the acceptance of the idea that economic growth has to be curtailed is a tragedy in a world where billions of people still live in dire poverty. According to the latest available figures from the World Bank, 2.7 billion were living on less than $2 (£1.10) a day in 2001 of which 1.1 billion lived on less than a dollar… The implementation of environmentalist economics means consigning most of the world's inhabitants to poverty. Even in the developed world there is still a long way to go before material want can be abolished. In the third world the consequences of 'sustainable development', holding back economic growth, are even starker.” (Ben-Ami, 2004)
This popular attack on the supposed outcomes of environmental economics is driven by faith in the EKC model, which looks so elegant on paper. The irony is that the very "sustainable development" that was supposed to be an outcome of proper applications of the model is now being used against itself. This shows us how far what Daly calls "Hypergrowthmania" has gotten out of hand. This is a disease in which, even if the EKC were true, the boosters would look at the tail end of the inverted U curve and complain that the mature and steady state of sustainable development, once achieved, was still inadequate and even dangerous, because not only had environmental degradation fallen to zero, along with traditional Kuznetian income disparities, but growth had stopped too, and this must be a bad thing.
“It is important, therefore, to understand the nature and causes of the environmental Kuznets curve before adopting such far reaching, and to many quite alarming, implications for policy" argue Andreoni and Levinson, (2001,p.1)
Asking the "rising tide to lift all ships" ignores that the ebbing tide elsewhere leaves all the others stranded – in a global system there can be no high tide without a low tide in another part of the system. Due to the global nature of commodity production and consumption and attendant residuals, when one area cleans itself up, the materials balance nature of waste disposal or resource consumption suggests that in a zero sum game, one region’s environmental improvements are another's degradation (this harkens back to Gunder Frank’s Development of Underdevelopment Theory).
The failure of empirical studies to bear out the predictions of the EKC thus relates to the “spatial fix” of capitalism that we spoke of earlier – even when the curve seems to apply to an OECD nation, global analysis shows that rising income has not led to aggregate environmental improvements – instead of using their wealth to clean up their act, most polluting industries simply move their operations overseas (Suri and Chapman, 1998). This is shown powerfully by the graphs in Richmond and Kaufmann’s draft paper for the Boston University Center for Energy and Environmental Studies (2005) and argued elogently by Andreoni and Levinson (1998). Even if a rich country could show environmental improvement with rising income, they argue, “the process of environmental improvement will not be indefinitely replicable, as the world’s poorest countries will never have even poorer countries to which they can export their pollution.” (p. 2)
Despite this, many economists from the "third world", such as Tareik Selim of Egypt, aren't convinced they are at the bottom of the "pyramid scheme" and continue to believe it is worth facing "Kuznet's challenge", prescribing "patience" and "tax and subsidy" reform (Selim, 2004, p. 217). Nonetheless in an era when ecosystem services are being horribly degraded there may not be much that patience can promise or financial or social reforms can achieve. Selim recognizes this, and sees that the economic models and legislative maneuvers may paint a rosier picture than what is happening on the ground, saying
"Egypt's position in terms of social entitlements and livelihood is superior on paper. Access to water supply is 97% (compared to a world average of 80%)…this may imply that social entitlements in Egypt are not lacking in access but may be lacking in their performance. That is, although access to a water supply may be evident, yet water quality and water pollution remain a serious problem… from a social welfare viewpoint, Sen't entitlements are met whereas Sen's functionings are not met for the case of the Egyptian economy essentially due to lack of resource capabilities." (p. 217).
Panyatou (1993) looks at time series data and suggests that even where the EKC does apply it certainly is not monotonic and may have more to do with structural changes in industry than any drive for a cleaner environment per se.
Much of the intuitive appeal of the EKC comes from a perceived “income elasticity of environmental demand” – the assumption being that as people get wealthier they begin to care more about the quality of their environment (Borghesi, 1999). This assumption is resisted by studies in the Environmental Justice literature showing that poor people do care deeply about their environment but are simply unable to do much about it (El Haggar, op. cit.) This is a very controversial area that derives its basic arguments from a misreading of Maslow. EKC defenders will often say things such as "nobody can think about the environment while they are struggling to put food on the table" or "environmentalism is a luxury that developing countries cannot afford". But Egyptian environmental engineering professor Salah El Haggar feels quite differently. He writes in his paper on "the Missing reform in the Alexandria Declaration":
"… the assumed reform plan can not be complete without the inclusion of environmental issues because environmental degradation will obstruct the reform movement. Members of society can not sustain endeavors of reform in the presence of a degrading environment.
Maslow's hierarchy of needs reveals that individuals tend to fulfill certain needs before others. (this is a basic tenet of economics too). The most fundamental needs are the physiological needs; oxygen, food, water, etc. anything that they need to survive. The other needs in order of importance to individuals are safety and security, love and belonging, self-esteem, and finally at the peak of the hierarchy are self-actualization needs [Sarma and Van Der Hoek, 2004).
Environmental degradation prevents individuals from attaining their two most basic needs; physiological and safety and security. Due to depletion of natural resources such as air, soil, water, etc. people are less likely to have clean food, water or air. In addition the wide spread of disease and disruption of natural ecosystems does not provide a safe environment for people to live due to high risk of disease break-out or natural disasters; hence safety and security needs are also unfulfilled. These two basic needs are deficiency needs; if a deficiency occurs in any of them individuals would directly try to eliminate it. Therefore individuals will be reluctant to undergo any effort towards political, economical, social or cultural reform unless their basic needs are fulfilled and sustained." (p. 343)
The Economic Exit Strategy
"In my country, even for those of us who really care about our environment, the idea is spend as little as you have to, make as much money as quickly as you can, and get the hell out" – Nour, Nigerian Environmental Science student studying at the American University in Cairo
When people call environmental reforms a "luxury" what they may actually mean is that faced with environmental devastation and loss of ecosystem services people consider it a luxury to try to fight the system and press for political reforms that they have little faith in to begin with. Without land tenure and any guaranteed return on your investment in a given bioregion it is often more rational to play along with the system and accumulate as much capital as you can, even if this further aggravates the situation, so that you or your offspring can get out. It is not that the poor do not think of their environment – they think of little else. But seeing that they are overwhelmed by the rich and powerful, over whom they have no control, they are trying to get off the sinking ship as fast as they can, even if it means using one of the leaky lifeboats and paddling like hell. This partially explains why the former hunter-gatherer and swidden cultivators in Sumatra I visited in 1997 were eager to poach and help deforest their land, ruin their "protected areas" and let it all be converted to oil palm plantations, where they could work as day laborers. "This land is finished anyway" a group of poachers captured by the game wardens told me, "The trees and animals in these parks are only for tourists like you. We can't support our families protecting them. We now wish the whole forest were wiped out so we could get real paying jobs. We are hoping we can one day earn enough money to get to Singapore" they explained.
The economics of wildlife preservation, once wilderness and life have been thoroughly commodified, suggest that only a few glorified mega zoos with rare charismatic megafauna like the Kruger National Park will be able to pay their own bills and show a positive B/C ratio. The supposed appreciation for the environment that theoretically accompanies affluence hasn't brought in enough hard currency paying tourists coming to see Rawanda's remnant population of Mountain Gorillas at over $100 a pop to offset the profits made from resource exploitation or habitat conversion. So as for wildlife preservation in the years following the Council on Biodiversity’s agreement to slow the rates of extinction (euphemized as ‘biodiversity loss’) there is little optimism that treaties to protect wildlife or habitat will endure – whenever the economic conditions are right we see a resumption in everything from deforestation to the hunting of elephants and whales (Plumwood, op.cit.) Even where wildlife and wildlands are preserved, the sheer pressure on these fragment lands and populations makes them vulnerable to everything from edge effects and spread of disease brought in by humans or domestic animals to psychological stresses that increase mortality. Citing overuse of national parks, disturbance of wildlife and harassment through gorilla watching and whale watching and jeep safaris, critics believe that wildlife and scenic landscapes are merely serving as the wage earners of a new market based “nature company” approach (Price, 1999). Economics drives the exploitation of wildlife as surely as it does marginalized or enslaved human beings. The threat of extinction, however, makes a quantum difference.
“Biodiversity belongs to a special class of environmental degradation because it involves complex ecosystems the loss of which cannot be recovered by technological advances” argues Asafu-Adjay (2003) in “Biodiversity Loss and Economic Growth: A Cross-Country Analysis ”. He determines that even if an Environmental Kuznet’s curve could be demonstrated for other goods, such as forests or polluted areas, it is inappropriate for wildlife because ‘at the global level, there cannot be a turning point in the relationship as income increases.”
According to this view, any environmental “gains” we perceive may stem more from economic necessity than ideological correctness, and the circus of death-defying stunts performed by eco-tacticians such as Dave Foreman, Greenpeace, Paul Watson, Luna and decades of other intrepid do-gooders crusading on behalf of the environment may very well have amounted to little more than that – a spectacle used by the defenders of Capital to give the illusion of participatory democracy while behind the scenes some of the much vaunted reforms were inevitable anyway.
Ecosystem Services and Industrial Ecology: The Materials Balance Approach
One of the most arresting ideas to emerge out of the econometric approach to environmentalism is the notion of Ecosystem Services. It is interesting that as the leading superpower economies transition from industrial production economies to service economies their environmental rhetoric tracks their economic experience. Thus we have “Valuing Ecosystem Services”, a report written recently for America's National Research Council, the "Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, the first global survey of ecological services", and "Ecosystem Services: Benefits Supplied to Human Societies by Natural Ecosystems" by some of the luminaries in the field: Gretchen C. Daily, Susan Alexander, Paul R. Ehrlich, Larry Goulder, Jane Lubchenco, Pamela A. Matson, Harold A. Mooner, Sandra Postel, Stephen H. Schneider, David Tilman, George M. Woodwell. Most are biological scientists of some sort (Goulder is an economist), many of them are from Stanford, and were key figures in the first wave of Environmentalism. Now they are playing the numbers game too, trying to show that,
"The human economy depends upon the services performed "for free" by ecosystems. The ecosystem services supplied annually are worth trillions of dollars. Economic development that destroys habitats and impairs services can create costs to humanity over the long term that may greatly exceed the short-term economic benefits of the development."( P. 15)
The Environmental Services approach is the vastest attempt at full cost accounting, employing a complete materials balance approach, involving scientists from every discipline, including physicists, to calculate the energy and materials budgets of whole systems. It isn't that far away from early general equilibrium models for all that. Ayres and Kneese (1969) used the first and second laws of thermodynamics to prove that externalities were pervasive, "a necessary outcome of all production and consumption processes." Their use of physics was the crux of what became the seminal paper in environmental economics. The field itself is a hybrid field that evolved out of interdisciplinary collaboration. AUC's ecology professor Jeff Miller has stressed that the more inclusive cost-benefit analyses done in modern economics owe a lot to behavioral ecology (pers.comm). Ecologists have been developing models for decades that account for rational choice in organisms faced with survival dilemmas in uncertain environments. And Game Theory, now applied to multiple-equilibrium models in economics, was the outgrowth of a cybernetics developed by computer scientists and instantly applied by both military strategists and evolutionary biology. Life cycle analysis and Least Cost Solutions and literature on double dividends through price-based policy instruments all owe debts to linkages between disciplines to produce ever better world models.
Weinberg and Newbold point out in their review of the Environmental Economics Literature (2002) that as computer clock speed and capacity improve and interdisciplinary/integrated modeling research efforts expand, environmental economics simply becomes "the logical extension along a path leading from a fork in the road long forgotten." (p.28). Their point is simply that we should have been including the costs of environmental degradation and the benefits of environmental improvement and the value of ecosystem services in our analyses all along, but we simply didn't have the sophisticated modeling and technological methodologies and tools to do a good job. Now we do.
The call to clean up environmentalism using the “rational, scientific principles” of "hard science" has been invoked by The Economist recently too, in a cover article entitled, “Rescuing Environmentalism”. The article starts with this paragraph:
“THE environmental movement's foundational concepts, its method for framing legislative proposals, and its very institutions are outmoded. Today environmentalism is just another special interest.” Those damning words come not from any industry lobby or right-wing think-tank. They are drawn from “The Death of Environmentalism”, an influential essay published recently by two greens with impeccable credentials. They claim that environmental groups are politically adrift and dreadfully out of touch.
“Mandate, regulate, litigate.” That has been the green mantra. And it explains the world's top-down, command-and-control approach to environmental policymaking.
What is really intriguing are efforts to value previously ignored “ecological services”, both basic ones such as water filtration and flood prevention, and luxuries such as preserving wildlife. At the same time, advances in environmental science are making those valuation studies more accurate. Market mechanisms can then be employed to achieve these goals at the lowest cost.
1) prices must be set correctly.
2) A proper price, however, requires proper information. So the second goal must be to provide it.
3) the third goal, the embrace of cost-benefit analysis.
Ex. The marginal cost of removing the last 5% of a given pollutant is often far higher than removing the first 5% or even 50%: for public policy to ignore such facts would be inexcusable.”
…by advocating data-based, analytically rigorous policies rather than pious appeals to “save the planet”, the green movement could overcome the scepticism of the ordinary voter. It might even move from the fringes of politics to the middle ground where most voters reside.
In 1817, David Ricardo, a pioneering economist, noted that abundance in nature was rarely rewarded: “where she is munificently beneficent she always works gratis.” But if nature pays, who then will pay for nature?”
Is the valuation of “ecosystem” or “ecological services” and the framing of water and climate regulation as “utilities” (a service for which people will pay money) really something new? Or is it simply that certain interest groups have always valued those services that help them run their business and underpriced the utilities for which they felt they need not pay? Foresters, for example, considered trees to be “timber”, valued in board feet. Trees that were not in demand could be sacrificed; those that brought in money would be replanted. Mariners saw the ocean as a cheap way to get fish. They didn’t care about coral reefs. But the tourism industry wants to save the coral reef because it is an asset to theireconomy. Once fishermen learn that the fish they depend on demands the presence of a healthy coral reef or mangrove swamp and that nobody else will pick up the tab of protecting these resources, it suddenly becomes a utility to them too.
We need to demystify the whole “environmentalism” shibboleth. By casting “nature” as the damsel in distress in a passion play about good versus evil we are unable to see that the utilities of nature have always been hotly contested and that the romantics are just as likely to destroy an ecosystem as to save it so long as they don’t too don't debate the utility that environment has to them or others. For example, many would be environmentalists would drain a swamp to make a meadow and sacrifice a junk yard to build a park even though the biodiversity index of the latter are far inferior to the marsh or junk yard (see Michael Hough, 1984).
Still, no matter what we think about "nature" and its services, without a real change in the very nature of resource extraction, production and residual technologies, most of the optimism that drives policy seems fanciful, based on utopian or cornucopian enthusiasm generated by neat models and elegant equations that continue to ignore the laws of physics and the processes of biology. Boulding and Jarrett (1966) warned us of the damage done by our "cowboy economy" and urged us to adopt a spaceman economy. We were supposed to learn to cherish the "life support system" of spaceship earth, and look upon environmental degradation with the same horror Tom Hanks, playing real life spaceman Jim Lovell, looked at the leaks in the Apollo 13 spacecraft. But rather than conceiving of spaceship earth as a materially closed but energetically open system with limits to growth and seeing the economy as a subset of a finite ecosystem whose life support systems needed to be protected at any cost, a different kind of spaceman economy has emerged – one that sees no diminishing of marginal utility or opportunity cost from leaking ecosystem services, indeed one in which the ecosystem of the earth is merely a subset of an infinitely expanding economy that can move ever outward into the infinite and unlimited regions of outerspace (Daly, Uneconomic Growth, 1999 p. 7, Peet, 2003). Once we've costed out the ecosystem services we can decide which to keep and which to replace. If, for example, "extractions from biodiversity's 'genetic library' account for annual increases in crop productivity of about 1 percent, currently valued at $1 billion…" then we can expect some billionaire to put in half a billion to save some area of biodiversity and reap the profit. But this will not protect other areas with species that are redundant or whose utility is marginal. As the Minister of Bahrain told his nephew when the latter was alarmed about the loss of the coral reefs and pearl industry "we have enough money from oil andconstruction. If we want pearls and coral again, we will simply buy a new reef." It is useless arguing that the coral reef won't come back in all its glory in the next couple of centuries no matter how much money is spent – the ecosystem services Bahrain may want to recreate – tourism appeal and pearl fisheries, can be recreated. They have already sunk old cargo boats to build artificial reefs for sport divers, and aquaculture pearls are now in vogue.
The better we get at recreating just those services we depend on for survival or for pleasure, the less we will see the need to protect the entire ecosystem. This is the danger of an ecosystem services model coupled with the challenge of building space stations and "terraforming" other planets. There is tremendous intellectual appeal to the ever expanding spaceman model; instead of looking at the earth from space and feeling its fragility we can again look out at the stars, now aided by the Hubble Telescope, and dream of the abundant resources and unbounded energy contained there. Models based on this approach give a kind of emotional satisfaction that a blend of misplaced common sense and flawed abductive reasoning produces when confronting a novel and intractable problem. Rather than the stifling Existential "Huis Clos" (Sartre, 1962) that Wallerstein confronted us with, Daily et. al's intended cautionary thought experiment about colonizing the moon just seems more and more exciting to a generation that grew up with the cornucopianism of Star Trek. We now have a roadmap to the stars, and can set up about handling our resource crisis by building space ships with the same enthusiasm that the overcrowded Europeans had when building sailing ships and setting out for the "new world". There is a danger in extrapolating from the past to the future of course – particularly when the energetics of extracting resources from the vast reaches of space are considered. One has to wonder why life isn't abundant (or existent?) or in evidence anywhere else but Earth (Ward and Brownlee, 2000). This latest imagined spatial fix is qualitatively different from all past fixes and creating a new full service ecosystem, materially and energetically, may simply cost too much.
Elite Anticipations of the rising Phoenix from the ashes of civilization…
"Our "triumphant" species may be partying on toward the first collapse of a global civilization" warns Ehrlich in his new book, One with Nineveh: Politics, Consumption and the Human Future (2004).
"By accelerating depletion of our natural capital, the interrelated trends of population growth, rampaging consumption, and worsening political and economic inequality have put us on a collision course with nature and severely eroded our ability to create a sustainable future. The Assyrians were wrecking their environment gradually. . . . We're wrecking ours rapidly. The Assyrians didn't have a scientific community that was warning them they were going to go under. We do—yet it's largely ignored.”
The problem with comparisons like this is that while civilizations rise and fall, the elite seem to maintain much of their fortunes and fortunate circumstances after the fall. Capitalists, like Capital, shake off the ashes and simply move on. With their wealth, the wealthiest build again, somewhere else. Only the poor or the very unlucky stay where environmental and social services have been severely compromised. By using the "services" economy language, current attempts to capture the value of ecosystem benefits to humanity fail to worry those who believe that their wealth can buy anyservice. Nature, to them, becomes a mere McDonald's drive-through where expendable, infinitely substitutable teen-agers ask "can I take your order" and "would you like to super-size that?". Regardless of the failure of the Biosphere II experiment, and the imminent possibility of the collapse of this or that civilization, most people don't believe that the entire ecosystem is going to collapse. The privileged don't seem to mind that around the world vast numbers will die. For all their rhetoric of putting people before the environment, they seem to be representative of Galil Amin's characterization of the elite: they secretly think the masses are better off dead. They applaud AIDS and other scourges that wipe out "those people" and, like former World Bank Chief Economist Larry Summers, look only to the bottom line. When five billion people die and we are back to the population levels we had at the beginning of the industrial revolution nature will bounce back (goes the theory) – a managed controlled nature more to their liking. Human numbers will be smaller, but, with automation replacing most human services and many ecosystem services, the crucial services upon which life depends will have a chance to recover. The elite seem to believe in the resilience of nature, and know enough biology to figure that no matter how bad things get for the majority of the world's people or species, there will always be enough biological activity to produce enough food (the kind they like) and oxygen for them. There will always be enough ecosystem service agents to assimilate their CO2 and fecal wastes and there will be enough energy for them to keep cool or warm. This is what natural selection and survival of the fittest are all about – winner take all. Nature as a service provider whose services may be comprised may scare the masses, who may be doomed therebye, but the elites are used to buying materials when they are scarce and services when they get expensive. That's what being rich is all about (Daly, 1980).
Environmental ethics and Environmental Justice
So it may all come down to ethics and justice. In Ludlum's fictional Lazarus Vendetta environmental wackos are portrayed as wanting to wipe out wicked humanity to create an edenic ecotopia; in the real world corporate wackos are buying there own gated and security protected island paradises and private estates and are willing to let the residuals and externalities from their profit making activities and the diseases and deprivation that come from compromised ecosystem services wipe out the rest of humanity. This is the game of Social Darwinism all over again, "survival of the fittest" red in tooth and claw. Who will really represent the losers in this fight? Where does democracy and justice fit in when the services of nature are priced too high for the masses? Since, instrumentally, everyone wants to survive and knows that being rich is the best insurance policy in a world where everything is for sale, a move away from regulation by a representative government to market based Environmental Economics and a clear Pricing of Ecosystem Services may simply aggravate the competitive desire to get wealthy at any cost. This approach favors individuals looking out for number one.
“Past analyses of ethics-the utilitarian approach-has considered "the greatest happiness of the greatest number". A newer approach, known as "deontological ethics", focuses on human rights, autonomy and freedom. There is a tension between the two approaches. The public, who tend to take the second approach and focus on the individual, tend to mistrust the institutional approach of government, who tend to take the first approach. There is also, of course, the question of whether governments are actually capable of calculating "the greatest good for the greatest number". (Western, 2002, Nuclear Utopias)
The problem… is that Instrumental rationality and ecological rationality are not synonymous” says Eckersley.
Instrumental rationality presupposes a detached observer who is able to predict, manipulate, and control external objects and events. Ecological rationality recognizes the interdependence of the human and nonhuman worlds, and the inherent complexity, nonreducibility, variability, uncertainty, spontaneity and collective nature of ecological problems (see Dryzek, 1987 Rational Ecology, 26-33). As long as we approach the nonhuman world as merely so much manipulable matter, and continue our quest for the complete mastery of nature through the application of instrumental reason ( a quest partly inspired by Bacon, 1620 in The New Organon, or True Directions Concerning the Interpretation of Nature), we will find plenty of reasons to disturb the ecological relationships and impoverish our surroundings. This is the danger, for example that Dryzek sees from maintaining Habermas' instrumental human-nature relationship instead of replacing it with a symbiotic one. Once again we swing back to the most serious consequence of the environmental crisis – the loss of biodiversity. It may be that a certain number of humans can exist very well without all ecosystem services, and that they can certainly make it without all the other species that now exist. From a utilitarian perspective loss of genetic varieties may not matter much to a hegemonic culture that relies on only four grasses (rice, corn and wheat and sugar) for over 50% of its food intake, turning this paucity of biodiversity into millions of different colorful products that grace supermarket shelves around the world, creating an illusion of richness that belies the bland sameness of it all. If these few crops, some textured soybean, our cows and chickens and a handful of fruits (oranges, apples, bananas) and vegetables (cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes), are our only symbionts – made infinitely variable by synthetic flavors and colors and textures, then instrumental rationality combined with the valuation of nature can only lead us to the lowest cost solution (Prescott-Allen, R,. and C. Prescott-Allen, 1990. How many plants feed the world? Conservation Biology 4:365-374; Wilson, E.O., 1989. Threats to Biodiversity. Scientific American, Sept. 108-116). Maintaining biodiversity in all its glory becomes a luxury that only the rich can afford and will only occur in a few parks and zoos, though decontextualized from the entire assemblage of ecosystemic support organisms it is unlikely they will survive long. This is the likely consequence of a world that uses economics and willingness to pay to evaluate everything, even one that claims to believe in the ethics of the individual. People can fight back, they can make revolutions to gain power, but non-vocal non-human others can not. This is why so many critical theorists frustrate environmentalists.
“From an ecocentric perspective, there is clearly nothing in Habermas’s communications ethics that could redeem the instrumental character of the technical interest in control vis-à-vis the nonhuman world. This is because Habermas’s delineation of the sphere of communication is such that the discursively adjudicated norms are restricted to serving the interests of speaking human participants. In such a schema, non-speaking, nonhuman entitites – the objects of technical control – cannot be morally considerable subjects… Habermas can offer no guarantee that these “non-speaking interests” will be considered in their own right. Although he acknowledges that many of us share an intuition of “sympathetic solidarity” with the nonhuman world, he is unable to work the interests of nonhumans into his theory in any theoretically meaningful way because his theory is grounded in human speech acts. The egalitarian reciprocity that he regards as implicit in human communication “cannot be carried over into the relation between humans and nature in any strict sense” because it presupposes that thereferents are free and autonomous human subjects.” Eckersley, p. 760.
The Neopopulist Approach and Participation : Who will the players be?
Despite the notable lack of participation by non-vocal non-humans, participation by civil society actors in planning and governance processes is one of the most important characteristics of the new development ideology. Participation, participatory governance, and participatory development – all of which imply roughly the same ideals – have become the act of faith, something that is rarely questioned, in development in the Third World (Cleaver 2001). Blaikie (2000, pers. comm.) in particular decries nonparticipatory conservation plans in Africa, calling the practices “gazetting” and excluding, and invoking similarities with the enclosure acts of Europe. There is a wide body of literature on Political Ecology (Blaikie and Brookfield 1987, Blaikie, 1989, Guha, 1989 are representative examples) that shows how the history of environmental preservation movements have simultaneously been exclusion movements. Modern scholars have called for a revision of these practices and for full participation in any attempts to conserve or develop an area; the Maya Biosphere Reserve concept and others like it, with mixed use zones, buffer zones, conservation areas and the like, are attempts to apply this rhetoric. We cannot ignore the market trends in these approaches – Rainforest Canopy tours throughout Central America (and the recent legal dispute around them) as well as Cenote diving, Maya village resort recreations and other forms of ecotourism are seen as substantial sources of income by governments, local people and foreign investors alike; even Egypt now holds prestigious annual regional eco-tourism conferences at Sharm El Sheikh where Arab traders calculate the tradeable value of their precious coral reefs; the question for the ministers and operators is how much do you really need to save to capture optimal revenue, and the question for the community is how much power and wealth will end up in local hands.
Problems with participation
One of the gravest problems with participatory planning from the standpoint of environmental sustainability is that participation in the very system that causes degradation by more and more people can only worsen the problem. Graffiti scrawled on the wall of the Architecture faculty dormitories in Gent, a university town in Belgium, reads “if you aren’t part of the solution, you are part of the problem”. Having more participants in the problem part of the equation is certainly no solution. It was this worry that led Harvard professor E.O. Wilson to declare to his Evolutionary Biology class in 1981 that “Cuba was better off, environmentally speaking, when Batista was still in power. The communist’s land reform led to high rates of tropical deforestation as private hunting reserves and undeveloped property were turned over to peasant families for collective agriculture. Ironically one of the consequences of empowering more and more people is that they use that power against the natural world.” Wilson was constantly under attack by his Marxist colleagues, Richard Lewontin and Stephen Jay Gould, for his views on sociobiology which seemed to favor the perception of elites who argued supremacy by natural selection. But only recently have Marxian scholars (Foster, Connor) begun to arm themselves with one of Marx’s primary arguments about how unequal development creates the conditions for environmental degradation:
Los lineamientos teóricos fundamentales sobre el vínculo entre el desarrollo desigual y la destrucción de la naturaleza fueron delineados por primera vez por el propio Marx. Al respecto, planteó que bajo el capitalismo ocurre una creciente division inevitable entre la ciudad y el campo (una división del trabajo entre el sector urbano y el rural), que altera el metabolismo básico entre los seres humanos y la tierra, esto es, el retorno al suelo de los elementos consumidos por los seres humanos y los animales. Esta división del trabajo, dijo, violaba las condiciones naturales de una fertilidad duradera del suelo, y aún puede ocurrir que la historia demuestre que estaba en lo cierto. El desarrollo desigual no sereduce a la concentración de la producción industrial, el comercio, la población y demás en zonas desarrolladas, sino que se extiende a la concentración de la agricultura y la extracción de materias primas en zonas subdesarrolladas en las que el “metabolismo básico” entre la gente y la naturaleza también ha sido perturbado. (Connor)
Viewed from the perspective of this “basic metabolism” the solution to this dilemma is to encourage more participation in the reestablishment of the linkage between inputs and outputs. It was Chairman Mao who, despite the holocaust created by his “great leap forward” had the foresight to argue “every mouth carries two pairs of hands to help feed it” but so far, without clear land tenure and equitable land reform policies around the world we haven't seen many of those hands replacing forests, planting agroforestry or perennial crops, improving soil or watersheds or adding to natural capital stocks. Cooke and Kothari (2001), have critiqued “participation,” looking at the element of “power” within the concept of “empowerment,” that is claimed to result from participation. Using Foucauldian analyses of power, postcolonial theory, and concepts of social psychology to critique the concept of participation, they raise questions such as "empowerment, not for whom, but for what?" Many authors (Anan and Sen 1994, Adams, 1995 Hecht and Cockburn 1990) believe that the path toward sustainability is empowerment of marginalized actors, but if they are gaining their power to try and follow a Rostovian development path, and mimic the West, that power may be used for self-defeating purposes. Weiskel (1991) has stated the problem eloquently:
W.A. Adam’s Green Development: Environment and Sustainability in the Third World… like Hecht and Cockburn’s and, for that matter, Revkin’s book… subscribes to what might be called the “neopopulist” approach to solving both developmental and environmental problems. Indeed, this stance seems to have gained near-universal ascendancy in active development circles acquainted with on-the-spot circumstances in the Third World, yet it presents grave problems for thoughtful environmentalists. The difficulty stems from the fact that local control of production and processing will not, by itself, ensure the environmental protection of rainforests or any other form of natural capital. At least two further elements require equal emphasis if neopopulism is to work as a viable strategy for environmental protection. First, the international terms and conditions of trade need to remain favorable to whatever commodity is being generated by the newly empowered local populations. It does little good to give local populations complete control over the production of a desired tropical commodity if, when they engage in expanded production, the bottom falls out of their market. Alternatively, if international trading agreements double or triple the incentives for environmentally destructive forms of exploitation of local ecological resources, neopopulism stands little chance of succeeding as a conservation strategy… removal of tariff barriers on [items such as beef and sugar] would provide powerful new incentives for Third World entrepreneurs… Local rubber tappers and Brazil nut gatherers would simply be outflanked and swept aside by the new calculus of international comparative advantage…
A second major problem in ensuring resource protection – that of the burgeoning population in rural areas – is ignored or at least side-stepped by focusing exclusively on neopopulist solutions. Indeed the issue is not adequately treated in any of these volumes, and indeed it is generally avoided in the wider literature. But the facts are relatively straightforward. Whether through immigration or natural rate of increase, the areas that would reputedly benefit most from adopting neopopulist strategies of resource control are everywhere those that are experiencing rapid surges in their human populations. Under these circumstances it is simply a mistake in the long run, to represent strategies of ecosystem protection and resource conservation as a simple subset of human rights… It would be tragic if a debate about forest preservation ended up as a debate about how to destroy the forest more equitably.” (Weiskel, 1991 P. 52-54)
The Brownlash: Anti-Environmentalism
'If there's shouting, it means people have listened' Financial Express - February 22, 2001 from article on Amartya Sen
“Rogue's Gallery Fairness demands mention of the other side. Out of this world they might be but sadly their words command more attention than the authors listed above. It might pay to hear what they have to say and mastering their arguments. The ranks of corporate apologists, economic boomsters, snake oil sellers, technofreaks and cornucopian fantasists are numerous but past and present prominent figures include Herman Kahn, Julian Simons, Wilfred Beckerman, Matt Ridley, Martin Lewis, Dixie Lee Ray, and Rush Limbaugh. Not surprisingly there is the odd environmental turncoat making a good career out of denunciations of his former beliefs. Richard North is but one example while the writings of Michael Allaby illustrate how fast some people can cover their previous tracks. For a sample of truly off-the-wall technophilia, try Donna Haraway or Sadie Plant, plus the magazine Wired.” 
Many people in the 21st century are calling for a revision of “environmentalism” and decrying its lack of scientific credibility and virtual religiosity. Michael Crichton has taken the critique perhaps a little too far in his new thriller “State of Fear”, a book in which environmentalists themselves are the villains behind global climate change, but he tried to make a more reasonable case in his Caltech Michelin Lecture on January 17,2003 with the playful title Aliens Cause Global Warming . In this lecture he decries the use of “consensus science” to inform environmental policy. He starts with a critique of the science behind global warming and then blasts Paul Ehrlich for saying that while the science is uncertain, most experts believe that the cautionary principle should be invoked regarding the policies we implement to account for that uncertainty:
[Ehrlich says] “What we are doing here, however, is presenting a consensus of a very large group of scientists…” [the problem is] …as with nuclear winter, bad science is used to promote what most people would consider good policy… Consensus is invoked only in situations where the science is not solid enough. Nobody says the consensus of scientists agrees that E=mc2. Nobody says the consensus is that the sun is 93 million miles away. It would never occur to anyone to speak that way.
Crichton ends his lecture by praising Bjorn Lomborg’s “The Skeptical Environmentalist” for its courage in pointing out the“bad science” behind much environmental rhetoric, and he flips the usual anti-Lomborg rhetoric upside down by asking,
When did "skeptic" become a dirty word in science? When did a skeptic require quotation marks around it?
The brownlash isn’t wholly unfounded – when criticism is applied heuristically, to further inquiry and create a dialectical debate, it is good. Merril Eisenbud, a physician and public health administrator specializing in environmental health, published a study in 1978 called “Environment, Technology and Health: Human Ecology in Historical Perspective” in which he addressed the environmental impacts of preindustrial and industrial technologies and policies and then took up “contemporary environmental concerns such as cancer and the environment, organic chemicals, metals, sulfur oxides and fossil fuel combustion particulates, air pollution, and nuclear power… " (Stine and Tarr, 1998)
"He provided historical background for each of these concerns, arguing that the environmental movement itself had distorted history by neglecting technology’s role in improving, as well as damaging the conditions of human life. The societal problem, as he saw it, was whether the “deleterious effects” of technology could be held to an “acceptable level,” a goal he thought was achievable through the application of careful technology assessment.” (Stine and Tarr, 1998)
But while Eisenbud may be correct in suggesting that the movement neglected technologies role in improving the human condition, most members of the movement consider such omissions a “benign neglect” given that they are ALL the beneficiaries of those improvements. For the environmentalist the benefits of technology go without saying. The problem with the brownlash is that it assumes that environmentalists are some kind of non-human species who are not only unaware of but disdainful of the role of technology in their lives. But as the frontispiece to The Environmental Handbook pointed out at the beginning of the first wave of the modern environmental movement in 1970, the question has really been the following all along: “IS OUR ENVIRONMENT TO BE HANDED OVER TO CEASELESS, UNTHINKING DEVELOPMENT BY THOSE WHO THINK ONLY OF WHAT IT COULD YIELD TO THEM TODAY?”
This was also the essential question of Rachel Carson, credited with starting it all in 1962 with the publication of Silent Spring – which of our many technological options will we choose to employ, and who gets to decide? The environmental concerns that Eisenbud deals with were not inevitable consequences of industrialization – they were only the inevitable consequences of “ceaseless unthinking development by those who think only of what it could yield to them today”. As Braungart and McDonough point out time and time again in their work on industrial ecology there is no reason why there should be pollution at all. This idea was championed by Buckminster Fuller who wrote, "Nature has no 'pollution.' This is a word coined in human ignorance regarding the presence of the right chemicals being released in the wrong places by those who profit only through selfish preoccupation and nonconsideration of others…" (1981 p.221)
"Nature does not compromise" intoned Amory Lovins "a pelican is not a compromise between a crow and otter, it is just a pelican. Nature makes no compromises; any inefficient products are recalled to the manufacturer! 
One of the gravest misunderstandings in the environmental community, but now being corrected by authors such as Paul Hawken and Amory Lovins, and Braungart and McDonough, and Michael Rothschild, is that Capital Accumulation is the problem. While a philosophy of Capitalism, like most –isms, including Environmentalism, can become an irrational set of narrowly defined precepts and operate without regard for the rights of others, Capital itself is not the problem. In From Cradle to Cradle McDonough points out that a tree is a kind of capitalist entity – it accumulates carbon capital by an “industrial” process of capital accumulation, transforming nature’s raw materials (atmospheric carbon dioxide, geospheric water and elements) into wood, which it stores for decades. But the “waste products” it releases into its environment during that capital transformation – oxygen, transpired water vapor, dead leaves, twigs and branches, flower petals and seeds are all inputs for other mutually beneficial processes and so do not count as “pollutants”. Soil formation is also a process of capital accumulation, as is the creation of a reservoir of water. Indeed one could accuse beavers of being capitalists, storing water in their dams and modifying their environments, and Atta leaf cutter ants, as they endlessly toil to accumulate leaves for their fungal gardens, bees who accumulate pollen and store it in the bank of the hive as honey, squirrels who gather nuts and bury them for springtime feasting – all are acting as capitalists. The profound difference is that they are not compromising on the ability of future generations to enjoy the benefits of the system – they are unconsciously practicing the very essence of the Brundtland report’s definition of sustainable development. And in works such as Natural Capitalism, Cradle to Cradle, Bio-Logic: Environmental Protection by Design (Wann 1991), Small is Beautifu: Economics as if People Matteredl, The Ecology of Commerce: how business can save the planet (Hawken, 1993), and a whole host of treatises on industrial ecology we are convinced that a green form of capitalism was always available to us, but completely ignored by those careless captains of industry and government whose greed and reckless disregard for the welfare of others created a system of capital accumulation and depletion that endangers others.
The irony is that those same people so often point out today how “nature is more resilient than we thought” and can “bounce back” without accounting for the misery they caused during their transformations. It is all fine and good to say that you can turn a former coal mine into a wildlife park a generation later, or turn a toxic waste dump into a center for recreation and ecologically friendly living (as Bayer corporation has done in Westphalia in Germany). The question for Green Capitalists, if they are successful, will remain – why couldn’t you have done this during your earlier periods of capital accumulation? Why did anybody have to suffer or die? Why did any organism have to go extinct? Given the HUGE profits you were making, and the fact that you are now, under environmental regulations, doing things in a gentler way and still making HUGE profits – why couldn’t you have done so all along? Does it really take a transition from “mercantile capitalism” to “proprietary capitalism” to “managerial capitalism” to what Harvard Business School’s Shoshana Zuboff calls “distributed capitalism” to get to the point where beneficiaries of a given system start acting as though they care about others? Hasn’t this always been an ethical, not a market efficiency or market failure issue?
Pollution has always been about the efficiency of inefficiency. It is throwing your garbage over the fence into your neighbors yard so you don’t have to spend time or money dealing with it yourself. It is arrogance in material form. As a freshman at Harvard in 1980 I took a seminar called “Of Acceptable Risk” where we debated such notions as Eisenbud’s concern about the acceptable level. The question was – who determines what is acceptable? The environmental movement questions the assumption that any deleterious public health impact that has not been specifically agreed to by the public is wrong, and that any threat of extinction is wrong and that we can find creative alternatives to these problems. Where Eisenbud felt that holding the deleterious effects to “an acceptable level” was a goal “achievable through the application of careful technology assessment” (Eisenbud, 1978) most environmentalists believe that creating, improving and instituting technologies that have no disagreed to deleterious effects is achievable through the application of careful technology assessment (see the Precautionary Principle in the next section). As a critique of rampant selfish capitalist development, environmentalism turns the debate about “deleterious effects” on its head and asks us to implement technologies of human and environmental welfare and then consider the economic risks of those technologies. In other words, the “acceptable level” of damage they want debated is the level of damage to the pocket books of the rich and powerful, not to the health of human and non-human individuals and ecosystems.
No matter what system we are operating under, it seems that as long as there is something left to extract and a market existsfor it, extraction will go on unabated. This view is tendered by Bride and McManus (2000) when considering the failure of the environmental movement to affect forestry and mining industries.
“As visibly extractive industries reliant on the material and semiotic commodification of nature, forestry and mining have come to be popularly viewed as “environmental pariahs.” Yet forestry and mining continue to be successfully profitable enterprises despite a significant increase in environmental awareness and activism in the latter half of the twentieth century. To understand the relative stability and growth of these sectors in the face of overt contradictions arising from their use of the environment, this article revisits the work of regulation theorists who asked similar questions about the persistence and maintenance of capitalism in general.”
We must now question the ethics of how we go about extracting if we are not going to stop extraction itself. Capitalism has as dismal a track record as Socialism and Communism, but you don’t really hear that much about the number of people who have suffered and died as a consequence. This needs to be factored into the equation of every decision. We hear a lot of perspectives like Eisenbud’s that we should take the bad with the good, and that on balance Industrial Capitalism has overwhelmingly improved human welfare. The problem is that those who tend to write about such issues – for good or ill – are almost always the beneficiaries of the system. Even when they try to write on behalf of the losers – even when they act as proxies and advocates for suffering people who have been marginalized or non-human populations and systems that have no voice – they still, merely by virtue of coming from a class privileged enough to be literate and have access to production technology (media) and therefore have a voice – have vested interests to protect. There is no getting around it – the ecologist writing to save the whale cannot live like a whale, and even the anthropologist writing to save a rainforest tribe rarely if ever is welling to give up his/her position in western society to go and live as a hunter gather (the few exceptions to this are radical advocates such as Bruno Manser, the Swiss national who put his life on the line helping the Punan organize against the timber companies in Sarawak and has a bounty on his head from the Malaysian military, and Chico Mendes, the rubber tapper in Amazonia who lost his life organizing his fellow tappers around the concept of extractive reserves and thus provoked the ire of ranchers). The vast majority of advocates for our environment and the people who suffer the loss of its services – utilitarian or spiritual – benefit tremendously from the very practices, policies and technologies that are destroying it. And almost all are aware of this fact. So it is useless accuse such people of “neglecting technologies role” in making their lives better and calling this neglect a sin of omission. Rather we should be praising each person who becomes aware of the damage he or she is doing to others merely by satisfying his or her own needs, and celebrate each attempt of those individuals to do incrementally or categorically less damage by a change in their own lifestyles.
The question is, if environmental hysteria is as unfounded as space alien hysteria, why the huge backlash? How is it that a country that is terrified of terrorists and killer bees spends so much time telling its citizens not only that its fears of ecological collapse and species extinction are exaggerated or unfounded, but that the real threat is the environmentalists themselves?
This is a case of “methinks the lady doth protest too much” (to quote Shakespeare).
It is the fear of partygoers that the party will be spoiled.
It is also fueled by postmodern deconstructionism, says George Sessions in a "Response to William Cronon’s Uncommon Ground"; it is “a contemporary form of anthropocentric humanism which espouses cultural relativism, an antipathy to science, and a preference for cities”. Sessions explains,
“Most postmodernist theorists have a humanities or social science background which predisposes them to see reality exclusively through human social and cultural lenses. In order to gain an ecological perspective, the ecologist Aldo Leopold proposed in the 1940s that we learn to “think like a mountain.” But for most postmodernists, there is no standpoint beyond human cultures. Postmodern deconstructionists hold that Nature is a social construction (or “social category”); that there is no genetically-based “human nature”; that there is no objective truth—all theories and statements (even by scientists) reflect only the interests of power elites; and that if Nature is a human social construction, then humans can “reinvent Nature” (and “reinvent humans” for that matter) in any way which suits our immediate interests and desires. The top priority for anthropocentric postmodernists is promoting social justice and “multiculturalism.” In the process, they tend to downplay the magnitude of the ecological crisis and the importance of protecting the Earth’s ecological integrity. (For a more extended critique of extreme forms of postmodernism, see Sessions, “Postmodernism, Environmental Justice, and the Demise of the Ecology Movement?” in The Trumpeter, Summer 1995). (Sessions, 2001)
If Postmodernism is to blame, then it is only because everyone now has access to the analytical weapons of the intellectual elite and are wielding them in the service of their own worldview. This is an age when the traditional "Weapons of the Weak" (Scott, 1985) and the strong are being mixed up and replaced by "great equalizers" of a form Montesquieu would recognize as an updated version of "the pen is mightier than the sword."
In an era when resistance fighters or terrorists can appropriate fertilizer and box cutters and commercial airlines and turn them into weapons, ideologues can also turn the terms of their opponents discourse into counter attacks. For example, Environmentalists are now being accused of being the power mongers:
"The environmental movement is not what you think it is. It is not about the environment. It is about power."
—Prologue, Undue Influence by Ron Arnold
So what is the brownlash really? The Ehrlichs identify the "brownlash" as an effort to "minimize the seriousness of environmental problems." While this is true, there are other common themes that run through brownlash literature:
The Brownlash says:
1. Environmentalism is based on "junk science" or no science at all.
2. The majority of scientists do not support environmentalism
3. Environmentalism is wrong.
4. Environmentalism has nothing to do with protecting the environment. Instead, it is about promoting a social or political agenda.
5. Environmentalism is a religion.” 
Some of this is true, which is why the Environmental Movement is in such a bad state. The brownlash is something far more interesting than “us vs. them”, the “browns vs. the greens” – it is the wake up call for all humanity that we need to start being honest about what we are really interested in fighting for, and why, without relying on our movement affiliations to define us. Ultimately, socially constructed or not, the reality behind what we perceive as our "environment" is going to determine whether we make it or not.
IV. Reproduction – the home, labour, culture (skills and norms), laws and policies
How can a biocentric environmentalism reproduce itself when it is being discredited, when it is being commodified, when its proponents are being branded as eco-terrorists and when, for all its efforts, and all the supposed gains, we are entering the greatest extinction crisis the earth has ever undergone? What will environmentalism look like when the four riders of the apocalypse descend upon modern civilization? Then again, do we even need an environmentalism?
We started, in Chapter 1, with the notion that environmentalism was nothing new, that human beings have always been aware of and committed to improve their environment and that the issues have been contests over competing constructions of the environment and clashes between the needs of “my environment” versus “your environment” versus “the other’s environment”. Environmental Justice movements suggested that we don’t need a separate environmentalism because every group fighting for their own “rights” or representing the “rights” of others, human or non-human, individual or group, is concerned with the environment that best suits that group, and the issues inevitably overlap (Sarokin and Schulkin, 1994, Ford, 2003:127-128) . Feminism and movements for social justice all have the potential to maintain or create a healthy and sustainable environment (for their stakeholders) without an explicit environmentalism, it is argued. But others believe that we must have explicit laws and regulations that guide our approach to the environment – to the non-human world – and create normative principles so that we set the bar higher than our own self interest (Taylor,1981). This can only be done through a representative democracy that legitimizes a legal system that gives us (and enforces) the right to vote for what we think best when we are at our best. And the problem with the current triumph of the economic perspective, besides its neglect of the voiceless non-human, is that it turns every human, once emancipated and given equal rights and lifted out of poverty, into nothing more than a free consumer. As Mark Sagoff (1981) says, critiquing the market approach,
"Willingness to pay: what is wrong with that? The rub is this: not all of us think of ourselves simply as consumers. Many of us regard ourselves as citizens as well. We act as consumers to get what we want for ourselves. We act as citizens to achieve what we think is right or best for the community. The question arises, then, whether what we want for ourselves individually as consumers is consistent with the goals we would set for ourselves collectively as citizens. Would I vote for the sort of things I shop for?"
There are distinctions between consumer preferences and citizen preferences that are not easily resolved by theories of public finance. In fact, people are fairly schizophrenic in that regard.
"I love my car; I hate the bus. Yet I vote for candidates who promise to tax gasoline to pay for public transportation. And of course I applaud the Endangered Species Act, although I have no earthly use for the Colorado squawfish or the Indiana bat. I support almost any political cause that I think will defeat my consumer interests. This is because I have contempt for – although I act upon – those interests." (p. 290)
Good governance is supposed to be about achieving our higher goals.
Laws and Policies
In its enthusiasm for the ascendancy of the market, Environmental Present, as we have seen, eschews legislation as the solution to environmental woes. Richard Stroup argues that the most important function of legislation is simply to enforce the "3-D property rights" that enable markets to function properly.
"For markets to work in the environmental field, as in any other, rights to each important resource must be clearly defined, easily defended against invasion, and divestible (transferable) by owners on terms agreeable to buyer and seller..."
Beyond enforcing these rights, government has no role because
"[the] ability and incentive to engage in farsighted behavior is lacking in the political sector… The liability that holds private decision makers accountable is largely missing in the public sector." 
What is unclear is why Stroup believes that the ability to vote politicians, their parties and constituencies into and out of office doesn't give them the same long-term incentives and interests as shareholders in a company. Stroup argues that corporations have a vested interest in sustainability and good stewardship calling on Harvard financial economist Michael Jensen's idea that corporate officers are informed and judged by stock price changes. He says these rise and fall as information indicates future benefits or future problems and the desire to keep stock prices high encourages good behavior. Saying that an asset's current worth equals the present value of all future services, Stroup believes that despite their focus on short term goals even the most short sighted owner has an incentive to "act as if he cares about the future usefulness of the resource". He concludes,
In fact, on the day an appraiser or potential buyer first can see that there will be problems in the future, my wealth declines. The reverse also is true: any new way to produce more value—preserving scenic value as I log my land, for example, to attract paying recreationists—is capitalized into the asset's present value .
Nonetheless, as argued in “This common inheritance”, Britain's 1990 environmental strategy white paper, although there is a widespread and “widely proselytized belief that market instruments are more efficient and effective than law as a means of achieving environmental responsibility, such instruments cannot occur without government action and changes in law and its enforcement…”(Bebbington et. al, 2001 p.. 19)
“The essence of the approach lies in the recognition that markets are rarely (if ever) entirely anarchic institutions. They are governed by constraints and rules. The structures within which markets operate (for example, the rules of limited liability, audit, taxation, natural justice or stock market listing) are set, of course, by governments – surprisingly, often much to the chagrin of the very organizations who benefit most from the rules, who, in fact expend most to have them minimized. The most obvious way in which less unsustainable behaviour can be encouraged is by changing the structure of the economic environment in which business operates. In Milton Friedman’s terms, changing the ‘rules of the game’ within which private enterprise plays.” (Ibid, p. 20)
“The Rules”, of course, as any child inventing a game can tell you, means some kind of enforceable law, and that means legislation. When the rule of law is questioned, it is often because of some legitimacy crisis in the enforcing institution (see Sirianni and Friedland, 1995, for a discussion of the rise of Civic Environmentalism and Participatory Democracy as responses to the limits of top down regulation perceived in the 1980s, also see Scott, 1998 for a discussion of State legitimacy) Today the legitimacy of many governments as representatives of the people’s will is readily questioned by both individuals and collectives such as communities and business corporations. Laws are generally designed to protect people from threats that are beyond their personal capacity to counter. They are supposed to use a form of agreed upon collective action to protect the weak from the strong. Then again, as the cynical restatement of “The Golden Rule” (“He who has the Gold, rules!”) implies, many laws are actually created to serve the interests of the powerful. Since there are so many competing interest groups in society with no uniform understanding of or agreement about which environments and environmental services to protect and since the gains of environmentalism past did translate into government enforceable legislation and into the emergence of financially powerful NGOs and environmental lobbies, many people are looking to the “invisible hand” to re-level the playing field (or return it to its previous skewed topography!) , hoping that market clearance through proper pricing will more accurately the reflect public will than voting (but see Sagoff, quoted above). Ultimately, however, some meaningful judicial review will be necessary to determine which system of administrative power is legitimate and legally valid so that decisions – even market decisions - can be enforced. (Jaffe, 1965, in Marchant, 2003, p. 1802).
We talked earlier about “the precautionary principle” as a normative guiding idea from the environmental movement that could be universally agreed upon and translated into legally enforceable policy. At its simplest the precautionary principle insists on adequate protection for the overall capacity of environmental systems to act as a buffer for human well-being: “any error in risk calculation should be to the advantage of the environment” (Bodansky, 1991, 5). There is an “inherent ambiguity” in the precautionary policy that leaves it just anthropocentric enough and service-oriented to please far-sighted business leaders, citizen’s groups and “weak sustainability” proponents as well as deep ecologists and proponents of “strong sustainability” (Marchant, 1998) as long as everybody plays by the same rules so nobody gains unfair competitive advantage. But its very vagueness may limit the PP to being a general policy objective rather than a legal decision-making instrument (Ibid.)
The European experience, particularly the “Vorsorgeprinzip” of West Germany (reviewed by Jordan and O’Riordan, 1998) has been somewhat different than that of the U.S. , possibly because it emerged during a time of social democratic planning in the 1970s, was implemented successfully in the 1980’s as part of the larger set of ideas the Europeans labeled “ecological modernization’, spurred the development of green industries that benefited from a new green consumer demand, reduced waste (improving competitiveness) and created a clean technology sector that has turned into one of Germany’s chief exports and employs over 320,000 people. (OECD, 1992, in Jordan and O’Riordan).
"the precautionary principle therefore helped to lay the conceptual and legal basis for a proactive environmental policy, which, once spread into Europe, was also directed at ensuring "burden sharing" in order that German industry would not lose its competitive edge, but rather gain new markets for its environment-friendly technology and products." Boehmer-Christiansen (1994: 30) quoted in Jordan and O’Riordan, 1998)
Clearly laws and policy instruments (subsidies, investments, trade agreements) that hold back potentially dirty industries and favor clean ones will enhance the standing of countries that have the lead on high tech production industries, most of which, by reducing waste and taking advantage of new materials and processes, are environmentally friendly. The post war experiences of Japan and Europe have helped position them to be leaders in this regard.
America, with so many sectors burdened by legacy issues from a dirty industrial past, is finding it hard to compete (we saw this happen in the US auto industry after the Arab Oil Embargo-assisted-hysteria of Environmentalism Past). Thus, in an effort to continue business as usual, lawyers and academics antagonistic to the idea of business exercising caution and precaution are confusing the public with the same sort of rhetoric they used to give corporations legal status as individuals who can then be “harmed” by the very regulatory actions designed to protect individuals. In his paper “Debating the Precautionary Principle: ‘Guilty until Proven Innocent’ or ‘Innocent until Proven Guilty’?” van de Belt (2003) invokes the time honored distinction between “Continental (Napoleanic, Civil) Law systems” found in most of the world (the most common modern form of law/judiciary) and |”Adversary (Common) Law systems” found only in the UK, the US and their former colonies (the English Speaking World). Since the Precautionary Principle is primarily being opposed in the U.S. (particularly by the Chemical Industry, where Jack Mongoven of the public relations firm MBD in Washington D.C. advised them to “mobilize science against the precautionary principle”; Montague, 1998 ) van de Belt’s twisting of the logic of criminal law systems is intended to raise the ire of people trained to think of corporations as having rights and who have a strong emotional attachment to “assumed innocence”. Using the emotional appeal of his syllogism, Van de Belt takes pains to then invert the perceived dangers of Type I and Type II errors to the advantage of industry. His argument suggests that the type I error is akin to “guilty until proven innocent” so that our Common Law instincts bias us in favor of committing type II errors. But chemicals are not people and deserve no protection! A type I error (rejecting the null hypothesis of a substance having ‘no effect’ when it is in fact true) would be of benefit to the public though it might cost industry some money (“too bad, we banned the chemical until we could prove it was safe and you lost a few years profit; at least nobody died”). A type II error on the other hand (failing to reject the null hypothesis that the chemical has no effect when in fact it is false and the chemical is deadly) would make the industry tremendous money for a time yet people would suffer disproportionately (the Thalidomide controversy is a good example of this). Should we be protecting companies by erring on the side of committing type II errors? Of course the type II error will eventually harm the company too if class action suits can be won against it (as is happening to the Cigarette Industry). Prudence would suggest that industries apply the precautionary principle themselves. It is the public’s right to a healthy life that should be “innocent until proven guilty” (recognizing that people in corporations are also part of the public!) Interestingly, many countries in the rest of the world don’t find the idea of a chemical or even a chemical industry being “guilty” until proven innocent so unpalatable.
There is a way out of this for all of us though. Wingspread participant Robert Costanza developed an “assurance bond” concept dubbed the 4P approach: The “Precautionary Polluter Pays Principle” bond approach. The idea comes out of a practice well accepted and extant in the construction industry where a firm will post a bond in order to assure that a job is completed on time. If it is, the bond is returned; if not, money is taken from the bond to cover the cost of delays. In the environmental policy world Costanza has suggested the a potentially polluting firm post a bond equal to the maximum amount of damage costs that can be estimated from the possibly harmful activity, technology or substance they are hoping to benefit from. If the activity is shown to be harmless then part or all of the bond can be returned, with interest if necessary! (Montague, 1998) Precaution thus becomes an investment, a possible carrot rather than a stick!
Certainly nobody wants big brother to meddle in their lives with command and control regulations, and everybody would prefer the carrot to the stick. May (1996) talks about the sobering realization over the past 25 years that our “naïve faith” in the power of government intervention to improve environmental standards was ill founded, and that compliance is about a lot more than setting standards and penalties. But it is still unclear who can be the legitimate advocate for the long term interests of ecosystems, non-market organisms and marginalized humans (see Douglas, 1972; Sagoff, 1981, Bullard, 1990, respectively). Says May,
“There is a growing recognition of the failures of current environmental policy mandates and of the importance for environmental sustainability of local government decisions about land use and development. Many argue that future directions for environmental policy include less emphasis on regulatory prescriptions and greater reliance on local governments as partners in pursuing paths to sustainable futures.” (May et. al., 1996)
But this reliance on the local is problematic. In Third Space, Soja (1996) expresses his dissatisfaction with what he feels is a misreading of de Certeau and an overemphasis ("overprivileging") of the local. He sees "local place" as being less important than the "complex and movement-riddled tangle of complicity that is "space" (Soja 20). The now in vogue obsession with "reliance on local governments" and "regional planning" as a solution to environmental problems ignores this tangle of complicity (see Bartlett, 1998). It does not always follow that local government will act in the best interest of general environmental outcomes. Local government may be captured more readily by special interests or could work as the fraternal arm of a overarching national government plan. For example, in a Special Report on the Everglades in the wake of the Hurricane Katrina disaster, The Economist (October 8th, 2005) writes that the popular CERP plan (Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan) which “passed by 85-1 in the Senate and … won the support of nearly everyone: greens and property developers, Republicans and Democrats, sugar farmers and fishermen” is now failing. It was one of the last of the Clinton era bipartisan planning projects and “demanded a new sort of partnership between state and federal governments, with each side paying half”. Now, in the Bush era, “not a single CERP project has been built” and according to The Economist one of the chief reasons is precisely the greater reliance on local government: “The real answer [as to why CERP is in such trouble] is that the partnership between Florida and the federal government has tilted toward the state.” They cite the fact that the sole objector to the CERP project in the Senate (James Inhofe) was made the chairman of the committee that governs CERP, and Congress failed to authorize money for the projects. Meanwhile, Florida governor Jeb Bush put $1.5 billion of his state's money into CERP, but “on his own terms and in ways that threaten the original plan.” Without the federal government mandates the entire focus of the project has shifted: “The federal government – as steward of the national park – focuses on the environment; the state’s main concern is to provide water to the cities and farms of southern Florida.”
This is one of the dangers of assuming that local governance can improve environmental policy in the absence of a more disinterested party or larger constitutional goal. Local priorities can often be subject to the whims of vested interests. May talks about the difference between coercive intergovernmental mandates and cooperative intergovernmental mandates, the former being “highly paternalistic”, with a tacitly insulting logic that “mandating governments know the appropriate actions to be taken by local governments”, the latter being much less paternalistic and thus likely to “enhance local government interest in and ability to work toward achieving higher-level policy goals” (page 3). But in the Everglades situation one might say that the Federal Bush Administrations’ desires to devolve responsibility to the Local Bush Administration shows a curious form of “fraternalism” that confuses the typical assumptions of the Environmental Management prescription to “strengthen the capacity [of local government] to undertake needed actions (p.2). Instead of making simplistic policy decisions that privilege on place over another, we would be better to approach the totality of space and the actors in it and figure out who wants what. One wonders what May et. al. will have to say about management by Dynastic governments when they revise their chapter “Coercion and prescription: Growth management in Florida”…
The situation in the EU conforms much better to May’s position. Parkin, 1999 has suggested a way for the member nations to “stimulate vital engagement in the huge local action plan agreed to at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, known as Local Agenda 21, using the Environment as a positive mediator in human affairs – the common ground upon which all diplomacy is forged:
I would like to add a final word about monitoring progress towards any targets or verifying compliance with agreements relating to the environment. I have long felt that this should be done at the local level, with national, European or global aggregations done from time to time through a random sampling of localities. This way, the national incentive to do well is not reduced. The localities to be sampled would not be the same each time and need not be known in advance. The localities themselves would feel that their activities were connected to a global effort, with people motivated by seeing global results from individual contributions. Best practice from like localities would be more easily identified and shared. This would stimulate vital engagement in the huge local action plan agreed to at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit (Local Agenda 21). And, importantly, as it would be far less threatening for verification to be carried out in localities, this is a much better way to build confidence and partnership between Eastern and Western Europe and between rich and poor countries. P. 47
But one still needs the guidance of a larger, more universal entity to play the normative role, keeping the local stakeholders focused on the larger issues. In the EU one such mechanism is the Maastricht Treaty which sets out the CFSP’s (Common Foreign Security Policy) primary objective to “safeguard the common values, fundamental interests and independence of the Union”. The treaty ends by saying that environmental sustainability is one of the EU’s common values and that environmental security is one of its “fundamental interests”. (Parkin, 1999, p. 47)
Treaties are a good means for bringing local interests into alignment with larger governance agendas. Professor Steven Hackett, who teaches Environmental Economics at Humboldt University, gives his students several reasons for optimism on his website "Internet Resources for Economists", among them The Clean Air Act and its Amendments, The Toxic Release Inventory Program and the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act of 1986, The EPA’s Acid Rain program, policies that rewarded Good Governance, promoted technology transfer and forestalled the Club of Rome predictions; optimism can also be found in the numerous treaties that exist to control illegal global commerce: the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, the Convention on Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, the Montreal Protocol and the Basel Convention to name a few” There have also been increasing attempts at global cooperation through international governance agreements.
And there is reason for hope – imagine the world without the Clean Air Act, without the Clean Water Act etc. Indeed it is because of the great success of these pieces of legislation in the U.S. and other "first world" countries that the illusion has been created that things are improving everywhere. While we will very likely lose a minimum of 30% of the species that exist on the earth and possibly many more, and while millions of people will doubtless live in misery, suffer and die from calamities and catastrophes, life will continue to reproduce and, as the cornucopians are fond of pointing out, human beings, being the most ingenious of the lot, will likely muddle through and find a way to reproduce. According to some optimists, particularly those who believe in natural law theory and legal positivism, natural selection will ultimately favor good governance, and laws and practices that enhance our survival will persist while those that detract will die out (the early works of Hobbes and Locke debate all this, for recent views see Sober and Wilson 1998, and particularly O’Manique 2003 The Origins of Justice: The Evolution of Morality, Human Rights, and Law but also see Alfred Russel Wallace, 1873 for an early gloomy outlook on how selection is likely to treat human civilization and its tendencies and G.C. Williams, 1966, for a classic debunking of this type of "group selection"!)
Acts as agreements to spend public money and ways of influencing private expenditures by the public
Perhaps the most effective legislation in the market era is not about prohibiting actions or fining perpetrators but deciding where to put tax money. For the non-vocal among us on the planet earth (at least those who merely pant-hoot and shriek toexpress their desires, needs and wants) legislation offers some hope when it comes to allocating public money. For example the "Chimpanzee Health Improvement, Maintenance and Protection (or CHIMP) Act, passed in the final days of the Clinton Administration created a place called "Chimp Haven" in the US. The bill allotted up to $30 million, pending matching funds from private donations, for the construction of the facility, which, with future expansions, could house as many as 900 chimps and serve as a template for the nationwide “system of sanctuaries” mandated by Congress to accommodate the country’s growing number of "surplus" chimpanzees.” This could inspire other attempts to preserve wildlife (Siebert, Charles, 2005 – it is, of course, hard to think of a "surplus" of an endangered species, another one of the paradoxes of Environmentalism Present!)
With greater civil society participation and new private/public alliances between the NGO sector and industry there are ways to bypass government control while supporting government policies (Arafa, 2004). Still, the brownlash has created impediments to even this hopeful alliance. Called SLAPPS - ‘Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation’ they effectively block civil society from speaking out to help enforce even existing legislation. So the trend now is for citizen (consumers) help industry (producers) to find ways to make environmental compliance profitable (Arif, 2003) In order to inspire behavior and set trends environmental sustainability advocates are finding that Acts don’t have to be passed by Congress, particularly in a world where corporations and private businesses eschew government interference. Part of the new paradigm is businesses taking on their own role in environmental stewardship and “Acting”. All it needs is leadership and others tend to jump on the bandwagon.
With free PR from celebrities, many businesses find a greener image a smart marketing strategy. For example film actress Rene Russo, who has starred in two films dealing with environmental issues (Freejack, 1992, Outbreak, 1995 ) has recently become the highest profile advocate of native plants and “wants Californians to rip up their lawns” according to a two-page color illustrated article in the New York Times (Thursday, July 7, 2005) . Accordingly, “Access to natives took a leap forward last year when the largest independent nursery chain in the state, Armstrong Garden Centers, introduced its own line of 130 native plants it called the “Spirit of California.” The line draws only a small minority of Armstrong’s customers, “but it is a growing part of our business,” said Gary Jones, the director for marketing.” (Navarro, 2005). This “Act” by a huge business and an Actress, could do more than any water-use penalty the government might use to tax profligate lawn waterers. Glamorous celebrities can be helpful in changing perceptions of the status legacy of English manor houses, democratic commons, and tropical Edens that got us into the mess in the first place. “We’ve become spoiled and want a green oasis at home” says landscaper Joe Barron, claiming that Southern Californians “want to see green year-round and lean toward tropical plants.” “People don’t like to change, especially if it is pretty. People would rather up their association fees than give up their green.”(Ibid.) But not everybody feels this way, particularly since many environmentally destructive activities are purely the result of uninformed perceptions of relative status. Perhaps it really is merely a luxury pursuit to destroy our global environment to make artificially pleasing personal environments (Hayles, 1996).
For the average consumer, though, it isn’t just star pressure and modeling that change perceptions – although the love affair with the American lawn is absolutely related to a social construction of status and the aesthetics of power (see Redesigning the American Lawn: A Search for Environmental Harmony, Bormann, et. al. 1993). It is cost. There is a practical economic side that always haunts environmentally destructive practices and gives the lie to the idea that environmentalism and economy are at odds. As Navarro points out, “For some homeowners, water bills and maintenance have been the deciding factors in converting”. Garry George, a board member of the Audubon Society who promotes natives says that besides the image problem and the personal and cultural value of manicured turf, some people “worry about whether their gardeners will be able to deal with them. I tell them to get rid of the gardener.”
Economic "Acts" such as these, championed not by politicians but by professional "Actors" and local actors following Ghandi's advice to "be the change in the world that you want to see" and the tenets of civil environmentalism may have more impact than legislation and command and control regulations and may go further in reproducing environmentally sustainable practices and ideas than anything else by affecting what King et. al. call "the reputation commons" (King et. al., 2001).
But cost saving on behalf of the consumer – and the absolute value of economic savings that almost all personal environmental decisions favor (doing “more with less” and reducing consumption always saves money!) -- does affect a wider economy and is expected to be vigorously fought. One can expect that the gardeners association will vigorously oppose any measure to introduce low-maintenance plants that “get rid of the gardener” just as they fought noise ordinances and clean air measures in California that were to restrict or eliminate leaf blowers. In both cases not only were “jobs” put against “the environment” but a paradoxical class issue emerged – low wage immigrant workers (mostly from the Mexican community) with local expertise in drought tolerant gardening (many of whom didn’t keep lawns on their own small plots of land in the ghetto, preferring to grow corn, tomatoes, nopale cactus, cherimoya and other utilitarian plants and eschewing water consumptive or gasoline consumptive activities in their gardens to save every penny or their ridiculously low wages) were fighting to keep wealthy suburbanites addicted to the reverse practices so they could keep their jobs. It is indeed a vicious cycle.
V. Conclusion: On toward The third wave of environmentalism
“To be an environmentalist today, must mean understanding and exposing attempts to stifle environmentalism. A new wave of environmentalism is now called for. One that will engage in the task of exposing corporate myths and methods of manipulation.” (Beder, 1997)
In Global Spin, Sharon Beder tries to help us to discover the Third Wave of Environmentalism by describing how to successfully engage with, and expose deceptions knowingly designed to forestall "the threat of mass public concern". But given where we are in history one wonders whether part of the problem isn't the contentious idea of "-ISMS" in the first place. With the lies exposed, will people really simply change their attitudes and start thinking in larger circles than their immediate self-interest and that of their friends and families? Will they develop the ethics of respect for nature (Taylor, 1981) once they have figured out how much it costs, financially and psychologically, to say nothing of physically, to do without it? Or will evolving minds on an evolving, living planet always compete for survival in ways that inevitably lead to their own demise? Perhaps this is for natural selection to decide…
Is there a need for Environmental Economics?
"Natural science will in time subsume under itself the science of man, just as the science of man will subsume under itself natural science: there will be one science." Karl Marx, 1844 (quoted in Smocovitis, 1999)
In the first Chapter, "Environmentalism Past" I looked at the argument that there may have been no need for a rights based Environmental-ISM per se if instead we had recognized that everybody is concerned about "their environment" anyway. I argued that the split between nature and man was a false dichotomy to begin with, and that creating a movement about a socially constructed space called "the environment" may have helped to further "other" non-human natures and, rather than help us seek common ground and raise awareness, permitted a conflictual relationship and tension to develop between other justice seekers (minorities, laborers, non-humans) and polarized or diffused the power of what should have been a universal movement for rights and welfare.
In this chapter I conclude with a recap of the argument that we may not need a market-based environmentalism, because any serious study of the economy would necessarily include the environment within which it operates (Herman Daly, 1980; Gretchen C. Daily, 1997). Recently there WERE NO “Environmental Economists” per se. But this does not mean that the field is new. Some authors have called the field "redundant" and asked "what point is there to a concept that embodies motivations and behavior already present in the population?" (Pearce and Atkinson, 1998). Beckerman (1995), has argued that conventional economic optimality already covers the notions embraced by weak sustainability and thus nothing is added that wasn't there before.
Pearce and Barbier spend a fair amount of time and effort arguing that "ecological economics does not represent a new scientific paradigm, but a new category of analysis or synthesis of approaches for tackling problems that are not suited to a single-discipline approach". They go on to say that ecological economics may change the emphasis we give to certain issues in economics, but it does not represent a paradigm shift. Pearce and Barbier do acknowledge that interdisciplinary analysis requiring the collaboration of economists, ecologists and other scientists benefits economics, but suggest that this erasure of the artificial boundary lines between areas of inquiry is as inevitable as it is an unfortunate waste of time. Instead of getting lost in arguments over field definitions and classifications, we should simply get to work solving the very problems and crises economics and all other disciplines were invented to solve (for an eloquent exposition on this viewpoint, see the introduction to the late 19th century German economist Hertzka's eutopian fiction "Freeland").
"It is a part of human nature to search for new paradigms. Science would not progress but for this curiosity of human beings. But there is a risk that as fast as we discover solutions we reject them because they are no longer new. Huge energies are devoted to rethinking the problem rather than solving it. We do think we know how to solve environmental problems as far as anyone can against the backdrop of vast population change yet to come. The real challenge is perhaps the one most people find the least exciting. We know what to do. We need to get on and do it". (Pearce and Barbier, 2000: p. 250)
An environmental economist may be said to be merely a label for somebody who attempts full cost accounting (Bebbington et. al., 2001). It is the name we give to somebody who engages in “analysis of residuals management”, applies Harold Hotelling’s ideas about “exhaustible resource extraction” (Hotelling, 1931), expands the Walras-Cassel general equilibrium model with Leontief production technology assumed throughout, explores policy tools such as Pigouvian taxes, looks at the role of bargaining for resolving efficiency losses while using the Coase theorem, considering the role of property rights and transaction costs, and seeking solutions which could return the economy to Pareto optimality.
Environmental Economics is the label we give to a methodology that amounts to a kind of “economic stochiometry” whose full cost accounting and application of the conservation of mass principle contradicts the three major assumptions inherent in previous general equilibrium models: “that technology is fixed, that resources can be costlessly extracted from nature, and that residuals can be costlessly disposed of.” (Weinberg and Newbold, 2002) But, as Daly pointed out time and again, these assumptions, used in Macroeconomics, never derived from the assumptions of microeconomics to begin with, and constituted more of a religion than a science.
In other words, an environmental economist is a economist who generalizes upward from the proven axioms of microeconomics. She is an economist with a better, more complete model of inputs and outputs. It follows that anybody who calls themselves an Economist and who seeks to more faithfully model the real world is going to be doing environmental economics. Is it only politics, greed or ignorance that separates people into groups who include the living world that surrounds them in their analysis and those who leave it out?
The dark side of human nature necessitates that we take pains to keep everything in the open and expose all hidden costs and agendas. Without making the environmental focus explicit it is feared that macroeconomics, driven more by profit than clear thinking (Wallerstein's "dirty secret of capitalism") will continue to ignore, for example “the social costs of disposal to an open access resource” which depends in part “on the extent of emissions relative to the assimilative capacity of that resource.” (Ibid, p. 4) Without putting the word “environmental” up front in the agenda we may not consider which residuals are “pollutants”, i.e., residuals that cause environmental damage, and which are residuals that can be transformed at a given price into new inputs for Leontief analysis. Without this explicit focus, most economic policy may well miss what Dr. Sherif Arif of the World Bank calls “the gateway for profitable environmental compliance." Without explicitly speaking of the hidden costs of industrialization, countries like his native Egypt, it is feared, will succumb to hypergrowthmania and will not be able to see and therefore create policies that explore the real values of recycling and re-use and the hidden benefits of industrial ecology and Clean Production (El Haggar, op. cit). Putting the word "environmental" or "ecological" into the picture can help unlock the potential of hidden assets. As Weinberg and Newbold argue, ““main-stream” economists, and economics journals, routinely ignore environmental implications of economic activity.”(p. 6).
There are also, of course, differences between the various fields now embraced by environmental economics. For example Jeroen C.J.M. van den Bergh (2000) explores the ways that ecological economics and environmental economics differ in their outlooks – the one more informed by natural science and political ecology, the other by resource based political economy. Still he concludes that “a simple, one-dimensional opposition between Ecological Economics and Environmental Resource Economics is impossible.” Of course they grow out of two different pedigree stocks – the moniker “ecological” suggests a more pluralist approach with “intense co-operation between natural and social scientists… in line with Wilson’s notion of ‘consilience’” while ERE apparently strives for “generality and precision” reflecting its neoclassical origins. (p. 17)
But this is splitting hairs. To solve the problem of survival on Spaceship earth one perspective should simply inform the other and enrich the toolkit. In the U.S. and Europe now there is already a lot of work in constructing linked economic, physical and biological process models that explore all memetic pedigrees (p. 19). It is assumed that the researchers seeking to move beyond standard economic production functions, like Cobb-Douglas or CES (or the Solow-Stiglitz models of growth that include capital labor and natural resources into the Cobb Douglas model, often attacked by Georgescu-Roegen, see Petith, 1999), and who want to appropriately estimate (shadow) prices of residuals, will join ranks with Economists such as Boulding, Daly, Schumacher, and Ecologists such as Daily, Ehrlich, Wilson, Postel, and Vitousek, as well as with other faculties and specialties, and take advantage of agglomeration economies and the benefits of untradeable interdependencies in universities and business centers and link the various models across disciplines and professions to create a more balanced and powerful approach to the issue of survival. Ultimately, full cost accounting will have to account for ethics and morality too, for these are integral parts of the world we inhabit, these are faculties evolved from our non-human ancestors, inhabit the cognitive maps of some our non-human relatives, and will doubtless be part of the way their and our descendants view their brave new world.
Oh Brave New World: On to Environmentalism Future
Life as we know it certainly will not go on, but evolution has always been about change and adaptation. A recent Scientific American article (Gibbs, May, 2004) talks about the emerging field of "synthetic life" stating that scientists are "designing and building living systems that behave in predictable ways, that use interchangeable parts, and in some cases that operate with an expanded genetic code, which allows them to do things that no natural organism can" (p. 75); some claim this is a good thing – for example the Synlifers have already engineered new strains of E. coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa to precipitate uranium and plutonium on their cell walls; once these novel bacteria have accumulated the toxic heavy metals they settle out of solution. Thus they can be used to clean wastewater – a definite benefit to our environment. On the other hand they can also be used to collect concentrated plutonium from diffuse sources like waste water. It doesn't take the mind of Osama bin Laden to see more nefarious potentials for this technology. Meanwhile transgenic bio engineering, stem cell research and cloning suggest possibilities for the production of completely new forms of self-replicating life and the possibility of other forms of self-aware, vocal and justice seeking intelligent life. The same means of production that have led to a mass consumption culture (yet created crises of under-consumption) through the immense reproductive capacity of Fordist, Taylorized industrial technology, now coupled with the self-reproductive capacity of living organisms, has the potential to create an entirely new ecology. The industrialists and progressives and the eschatologists and the environmental doomsayers may all turn out to be right in their own way: all human activity seems to be rushing toward a "singularity" (John von Neumann in Ulam, 1958; Margulis and Sagan, 1986, Vinge, 2003 ): life as we know it is about to end, and the human race as we know it will likely go extinct along with it. But it will be surely be replaced by something else, possibly some post-modern, cybernetic chimeric, transhuman hybrid of human, non-human and machine . According to our ecosystem model that something may not be any better or any worse. But it will be different. And the organisms that make up that brave new race will doubtless have its own plurivocal "environmentalism", competing to preserve what it values and destroy or marginalize what it doesn't.
Environmentalism Future is as yet unwritten. It may not need to be, if our cyborg descendants embrace the ecosystem model and decide that there is no environment "out there" to be either discounted or accounted for and simply work on sustainable ways to comfortably survive. In the next chapter we will explore what has been written about the shape of things to come, and how the inhabitants of those spaces are imagined to feel about their "environments", and by doing so, gain better insights into where we've been, whether we are tending and how to go about it.
 see http://www.gmwatch.org/profile1.asp?PrId=248&page=C for the history of Wise Use and the political connections of Ron Arnold and Alan Gottlieb and their connection to the Reverend Moon's Unification Church and see http://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/200409/wiseuse.asp and html
 Wendell Bell's work in the field of "Astrosociology" can be found at http://www.astrosociology.com/vlibrary.html; He writes "Images of the future are often powerful drivers of social change, becoming the focus of critical discourse and decision making, sometimes a topic of intense ideological conflict, and often a basis for both individual or collective social action".
 (NATO speech http://www.nato.int/docu/speech/2005/s050222k.htm)
 (Arab Times, October, 2005, Al-Ahram, December 2005, Teen Stuff Magazine, January 2005)
 http://www.gre.ac.uk/~bj61/talessi/tlr42.html provides a nice TLR or the NIMBY phenomenon,
also see Lober and Green (1994). http://www.newamerica.net/index.cfm?pg=article&DocID=860 has a nice piece on opposition to the "new NIABY movement",
 for a nice summary of De Certeau's ideas, particularly his investigation of ways in which users operate, see http://www.eng.fju.edu.tw/Literary_Criticism/cultural_studies/decerteau.htm#a
 http://www.gein.de/html/calendar/en/calPublications.html is a nice German portal to German environmental history and the work of Gruhl
 http://www.herbert-gruhl.de/english/english.html, Edward Goldsmith founded "The Ecologist" in 1969 and is an outspoken critic of industrialism; see http://www.rightlivelihood.org/recip/goldsmith.htm
 Orton, 2000, describes the harassing, attacking and injuring of environmental activists as fascist activities organized by Wise Use proponents. Helvarg (http://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/200409/wiseuse.asp) quotes Interior secretary James Watt, after being forced to resign, telling a group of ranchers that "if the troubles from environmentalists cannot be solved in the jury box or at the ballot box, perhaps the cartridge box should be used.")
 see "Wise Use in the White House: Yesterday's Fringe, Today's
Cabinet Official" by David Helvarg on the Sierra Club web site: http://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/200409/wiseuse.asp;
 " This survey assesses evidence on the linkage between environmental regulation and competitiveness, and finds little support for the conventional wisdom that environmental regulations have large adverse effects on competitiveness. Studies examining the effects of environmental regulations on net exports, overall trade flows, and plant-location decisions have produced estimates that are small, statistically insignificant, or not robust. We also find no systematic evidence supporting the revisionist hypothesis that environmental regulations stimulate innovation and improved competitiveness. Overall, the evidence suggests that the truth regarding the relationship between environmental protection and international competitiveness lies in between the extremes of the current debate." http://www.aeaweb.org/journal/contents/mar1995.html#AN0351936
 http://www.holon.se/folke/worries/oildepl/energy.shtml " In a report prepared for Carrying Capacity Network in September 1994, Mario Giampetro maintains: ". . the 3,500 kcal of food energy consumed per U.S. citizen cost the U.S. food system about 35,000 kcal per capita of commercial (exosomatic) energy. " These figures are per day, but the ratio is 1:10.
 ( http://dieoff.org/page110.htm)
 http://www.gein.de/html/calendar/en/calDisasters.html lists recent environmental disasters, for example, the Seal Distemper epidemic of May-October 2002 that wiped out more than 21,000 seals of the species Phoca vitulina.
 (See http://www.sandiegozoo.org/animalbytes/a-status.html)
 (http://www.populationaction.org/resources/publications/naturesplace/np_apes2.shtml )
 James Ackerman, PhD, of the University of Puerto Rico gave a presentation, "Plants in the Greenhouse - Species Salvation or the Living Dead?" that dealt with “the uncomfortable subject of whether we are kidding ourselves by promoting ex situ (out-of-habitat) conservation. One of the most daunting issues facing conservationists is the simple fact that all aspects of any given habitat - pollinators, all of the aspects of pollinator habitat, mycorhizal fungi, among others - must be preserved, or what you have in essence is a museum full of living fossils. Ackerman’s assertion is that most attempts at ex situ conservation amount to just this. Unless specific measures are taken from the outset to ensure that the ultimate reintroduction of the particular species into its native habitat is the goal, we end up with just some pretty plants.” http://www.sdorchids.com/aug99.htm
 “The island of Singapore is haunted by the living dead. They aren't dead yet, but they will be
soon. The living dead is the term that ecologists are using for a number of species in
Southeast Asia which have such low populations that they are doomed for extinction. The
cause is habitat destruction. Over the last 200 years, over 95% of Singapore's forest cover and
freshwater habitats have disappeared due to urbanization, agriculture and logging, and
ecologists estimate that 28% of its species diversity has already been lost. Based on the
situation in Singapore, ecologists fear that 20% of the Earth's plant and animal species may
disappear within the next hundred years” http://www.mcc.org/7days/pdfs/day5we1.pdf
 available on-line at http://dieoff.org/page88.htm
 http://www.preventcancer.com/losing/nci/blame_victim.htm “A 1979 confidential report by consultants to the chemical industry trade association (the American Industrial Health Council) admitted that exposures to occupational carcinogens were responsible for at least 20% of all cancer, and that they posed a "public health catastrophe"” see also http://www.sptimes.com/2004/02/22/Perspective/Blaming_the_victim.shtml
 cited on http://www.acsa2000.net/HealthAlert/lungcancer.html
 cited on http://medicolegal.tripod.com/toxicchemicals.htm).
 go to http://www.radonseal.com/radon-facts.htm
 UNPRECEDENTED CHALLENGES TO HUMAN PROSPERITY AND SURVIVAL
IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY Anthony D. Cortese, ScD
 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development. Available at: http://
www.igc.org/habitat/agenda21/rio-dec.html. Accessed June 18, 2001.
 “PERSPECTIVES ON MARINE ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY TODAY”, 1998 Year of the Ocean http://www.yoto98.noaa.gov/yoto/meeting/mar_env_316.html
 see Alt-eblogspot.com/2004_09_01_alt-e_archive.html)
 Simon is dead, but if there is an eternal afterlife for him to continue infinitely growing in, then we must assume he still believes himself to be right, and finally with good reason!
 see “Accidental Invention Points to End of Light Bulbs” in
http://www.livescience.com/technology/051021_nano_light.html and http://exploration.vanderbilt.edu/news/news_quantumdot_led.htm, also http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/10/051021123902.htm
 “ The renewable energy sector earned a record $30 billion and provided 4 percent of global electricity last year, according to a report to be issued Monday at an international energy conference in Beijing. Technologies such as wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, and small hydro projects now provide 160 gigawatts of electricity generating capacity, about 4 percent of the world total," the US-based Worldwatch Institute said Sunday in a press release on its report, published on behalf of the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century.” http://www.newkerala.com/news.php?action=fullnews&id=48752
 “almost every year for 150 years, the oil industry has produced more than it did the year before” Today, the industry is producing about 83m barrels a day, with big new fields in Azerbaijan, Angola, Algeria, the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico and elsewhere soon expected on stream. http://www.guardian.co.uk/life/feature/story/0,13026,1464050,00.html
 see alsohttp://www.hydrogennow.org/Facts/FAQs.htm)
 Harvard Business School professor Shoshana Zuboff and James Maxim discuss this in their new book, The Support Economy: why corporations are failing individuals and the next episode of capitalism (2002 New York: Penguin Books), saying Managerial Capitalism is “hanging on by its fingertips”. In an interview for HBS “Working Knowledge” they say “Capitalism's capacity to evolve and its incredible versatility have proven to be the single most important source of its robustness and success. In fact, capitalism has avoided devastating crises not because it is fixed, but because it changes. Each historical episode of capitalism has a limited range of adaptation, however. As markets and technologies undergo historic change, so too must the current model of capitalism” http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item.jhtml?id=3528&t=leadership
 Daniel Ben-Ami, author of Cowardly Capitalism: The Myth of the Global Financial Casino”, John Wiley and Sons, 2001, used in the Harvard Business School curriculum. Ben Ami, who the Center for Media and Democracy keeps tabs on in SourceWatch because his work negatively shapes the public agenda, writes anti-environmentalist tirades with titles such as “The Dismal Quackery of Eco-Economics” on the British LM website http://www.spiked-online.com/, a site whose sponsors and partners have also included the IBM, the Royal Institution of Great Britain, the Institute of Psychiatry and conservative groups like the International Policy Network.
 Online at http://www.constitution.org/bacon/nov_org.htm
 Of the 250,000 species of plants, 70,000 or so are known to have edible parts, according to E.O. Wilson, 1989. Humans civilizations have exploited only 7,000 of these on any significant scale over the course of recorded history and only about 150 have ever been put into large scale cultivation. Of these, only 82 species constitute 90% of national per-capita food plant supplies and a much smaller number are responsible for the bulk of human caloric consumption (Prescott-Allen and Prescott-Allen, 1990) see citations in Daily et. al., 1997, p. 7
 Daily et. al., 1997 write: "Generally, the flow of ecosystem goods and services in a region is determined by the type, spatial layout, extent and proximity of the ecosystems supplying them. Because of this, the preservation of only one minimum viable population of each non-human species on Earth in zoos, botanical gardens, and the world's legally protected areas would not sustain life as we know it. Indeed, such a strategy, taken to extreme, would lead to collapse of the biosphere, along with its life services." (p. 2)
 full text is available from Stanford U here: http://stephenschneider.stanford.edu/Publications/PDF_Papers/Crichton2003.pdf
 quoted in "Sense and Sustainability" by Dave Hampton, FCIOB Chair of the UK CIC's Sustainable Development Committee http://www.constructfocus.com/issue4/management.php
 “At first I thought I was fighting to save rubber trees, then I thought I was fighting to save the Amazon rainforest. Now I realize I am fighting for humanity” - Chico Mendes, Rubber tappers' leader. file:///G:/Quotes/quotes2env.htm
 Source: http://info-pollution.com/betrayal.htm
 http://www.arachna.co.nz/thesis/Chapters.asp?Chapt=4&PageNo=3 is a great site for grassroots environmentalism issues
 Zuboff and Maxmin, authors of “The Support Economy” say “Now, after decades of being forced to put up with the consequences of corporate indifference, individual end consumers are striking out on their own to blaze new trails in a new approach that we call the individuation of consumption. They want to be treated as individuals, not as anonymous transactions in the ledgers of mass consumption. They want to be heard and they want to matter. They no longer want to be the objects of commerce.” http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item.jhtml?id=3528&t=leadership
 From the International Monetary Fund: “ In September 2000, at the United Nations Millennium Summit, world leaders agreed to eight specific and measurable development goals—now called the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)—to be achieved by 2015. The first seven goals focus on eradicating extreme poverty and hunger; achieving universal primary education; promoting gender equality and empowering women; reducing child mortality; improving maternal health; combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; and ensuring environmental sustainability. The eighth goal calls for the creation of a global partnership for development, with targets for aid, trade, and debt relief. A significant step toward meeting the MDGs was taken in Monterrey, Mexico, in March 2002, when the international community adopted a two pillar strategy, whereby sustained pursuit of sound policies and good governance by the low-income countries is to be matched by larger and more effective international support”. http://www.imf.org/external/np/exr/facts/mdg.htm
 "Nor does the government sector have the long-range view that property rights provide, which leads to protection of resources for the future. As long as the third D, divestibility, is present, property rights provide long-term incentives for maximizing the value of property." http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/EnvironmentalismFreeMarket.html
 "If I mine my land and impair its future productivity or its groundwater, the reduction in the land's value reduces my current wealth. That is because land's current worth equals the present value of all future services (see Present Value). Fewer services or greater costs in the future mean lower value now. In fact, on the day an appraiser or potential buyer first can see that there will be problems in the future, my wealth declines. The reverse also is true: any new way to produce more value—preserving scenic value as I log my land, for example, to attract paying recreationists—is capitalized into the asset's present value. "
 Law as Instrument to Serve the Ends of Powerful Elites in Control of the State: Legal Positivism
 See http://home.earthlink.net/~futurecon/corporations.htm for a brief history of the idea of “corporate personhood”.
 "Space Settlements and New Forms of Governance," Limes: Rivista Italiana di Geopolitica, N. SP2/04, October 2004 Jim Dator http://www.futures.hawaii.edu/dator/space/spacesettlements.html
 Governance Achievements
United Nations – 1945
Food and Agricultural Organization
Economic and Social Council of United Nations
International Union for the Protection of nature (IUPN), later IUCN (1948)
World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) 1961, fund raising arm for IUCN then separated
NGO’s Friends of Earth (1971), Greenpeace (1971)
UN Conference on Human Environment (1972)
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Nairobi
United Nations Development Program
World Commission on Environment and Development (Brundtland Commission) “Our common Future” 1987. Sustainable Development
Earth Summit, 1992 Rio
Five multilateral agreements signed: Convention on Biological Diversity (Binding)
Framework Convention on Climate Change (Binding)
Rio Declaration Setting 27 Principles to guide international action (nonbinding)
Agenda 21 (nonbinding)
Statement on Forest Principles (nonbinding 15 principles)
After Earthsummit: 4 additional multilateral environmental agreements adopted as Rio outcomes: Convention to Combat Desertification, Rotterdam convention on Prior informed consent procedure for certain hazardous chemicals and pesticides in international trade, Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, Straddling and Migratory Fish Stocks Agreement.
Millenium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) June 2001. Focuses on Ecosystem Services! Ecosystem Assessment process modeled on the MA repeated every 5-10 years if useful.
World Summit for Sustainable Development, Johannesburg Summit: two main documents: Plan of Implementation (framework to implement commitments agreed to at UNCED; 11 chapters, more than 30 targets (many from Millenium Development Goals, significant reduction in rate of biodiversity loss) and Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable Development.
Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
 “Modern Applications of the Doctrine of Natural Selection” at http://www.wku.edu/~smithch/wallace/S221.htm and “Free-Trade Principles and the Coal Question” at http://www.wku.edu/~smithch/wallace/S231.htm
see http://www.slapps.org/, for general information and links see http://www.casp.net/mengen.html
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/07/garden/07russo.html?ei=5090&en=95f40923f010efd9&ex=1278388800&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss&pagewanted=all See also http://magazine.audubon.org/audubonathome/audubonathome0507.html