Political Science 1G06 2013 Lecture 7a The Politics of the Environment
According to many commentators, the earth is currently experiencing multiple environmental
- Greenhouse Effect:
- Ozone Depletion- thinning over the course of the past fifty year, cause is man made- CFC
- Species Depletion
Human activity has been identified as a primary cause of these environmental crises:
At the most basic level, consider
- 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
1 - Mainstream (liberal) environmentalists conceptualize the problem as being one of “public