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Political Science
Todd Alway

Political Science 1G06 2013 Lecture 7a The Politics of the Environment According to many commentators, the earth is currently experiencing multiple environmental crises: - Greenhouse Effect: - Ozone Depletion- thinning over the course of the past fifty year, cause is man made- CFC (chloroform carbons) - Species Depletion Human activity has been identified as a primary cause of these environmental crises: At the most basic level, consider Population growth: - Linear – constant amount being added year after year - Geometric (exponential) growth- constant proportion being added every year - Increasing 1.2%/year - By 2050 between 8 and 11B people in the world - This raises several questions with respect to the environment: - 1. How will all these new people be fed without overrunning the natural environment? - 2. What impact will 11 Billion consumers have on the environment? Environmental issues are political issues, not merely scientific issues: - Because human impact is the cause of the environmental problem, any solution is definitively a political issue 1. Why is Population growth a political issue? - Population growth is not even throughout the world - 86% of global population growth is concentrated in the underdeveloped world - Northern tendency to blame the South for over-procreating - By contrast, many developing country governments have noted a correlation between high birth rates and poverty - Lower poverty and you will lower birth rates 2. Environmental agreements are also political issues: - Who should pay the costs associated with environmental cleanup? - Some principles being advocated from the less-developed world: - 1. “Polluter pays principle” - 2. Principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities” - 3. Concern with avoiding redirection of existing developmental resources What to do? - How do we avoid destroying the environment, while respecting the reality of competing political goals? 1 - Mainstream (liberal) environmentalists conceptualize the problem as being one of “public goods” “Tragedy of
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