Feb 14 12 ENV222 lecture format.doc.docx

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School of Environment
Kenneth Mac Donald

ENV222 Feb. 14, 2012 Power Lecture format Subject: the connection between power (domination in Merchant`s terminology) of humans over humans (H-H power) and power of humans over the nonhuman (H-NH power) world or nature (“nonhuman” and “nature” are synonymous here). Questions to be explored: is there a connection, does domination of human by human lead to domination of nature by humans? if so, how does that connection work, why and how does H-H power lead to H=NH power? That is, how is H-H power a cause of the environmental problem? 1. Merchant reading This text is not the most accessible in the course reader, so do not feel you need to fully master all details. What follows is my understanding of the ways in which the different schools of thought discussed view the relationship between H-H and H-NH power. Frankfurt School and critical theory: as humans developed a sense of self (self-consciousness) they also developed a sense of separation from others and from nature (alienation); control of self (reader p. 204 “Odysseus … control his animal instincts”) allows control of other humans and of nature; alienation (separation from nature) is furthered by development of the empirical method (science – Francis Bacon, 1561-1626) which rests upon objectivity and the separation of the observer (the human scientist) and the observed (nature) and through prediction increases control over nature (in large part through development of technology); Globalization: Merchant uses the term as roughly synonymous with capitalism and never-ending economic growth and focuses upon domination of the South (developing countries, third world) by the North (industrialized countries),which also involves environmental degradation; population growth is part of the problem; pricing ecosystem services (p. 207); the argument from ecological economics that if we put a price on such things as water purification done by nature we would have more incentive to preserve nature – the price could be nominal (calculate value even though no price is paid) or actual (the state charges for use of ecosystem services, as is done in cap-and-trade air pollution regulation (Feb. 7 lecture); an example of market as solution, instead of problem Deep ecology: as discussed Feb. 9 lecture, argues we need to end domination of nature by abandoning our view we are distinct from nature and have a moral right to dominate it; Social ecology: Bookchin says human civilization, as a form of social evolution, is as "natural" as ecological evolution; thus for him, civilization per se is not the problem, but instead the current form of civilization, which consists of alienation and human-human domination; Bookchin says non-human world depends upon co-operation, not coercive power and argues humans should implement same principles; 1 Bookchin argues H-H power is what led to H-NH power; p. 207; “This social domination led to the domination of people over nature.” This is the argument made in this lecture, below. Ecofeminism: it is not humanity which exercises power over nature but instead only men, who dominate both women and nature; p. 209 “various forms of oppression” are connected, which explains why H-H power in the form of patriarchy also generates H-NH power. I make this argument below as well. Environmental justice: humans not only dominate and degrade nature but also, while doing so, impose pollution and other forms of environmental damage on the poor and the non-white, both locally, in the inner city and globally, upon the south; thus increased H-H equity is linked to H- NH equity; Spiritual ecology: various efforts to show religion is not trapped in anthropocentrism, but can be the basis for a more equitable H-NH relationship; Postmodern science: the argument empiricism is moving away from prediction toward acceptance of surprise, and so less control. 2) NH and H-H power NH power: in nature, power consists of ability of one creature to influence behaviour of another and of physical power (energy; ability to do work) . the power of nature over humanity consists of the threat posed by animals (Grizzly bear) or microbes (bird flu) and physical power (eg, earthquake, Tsunami) H-H power: human power consists of power exercised by humans over other humans; the ability of human A to influence the behaviour of human B; plus, the ability to exercise physical power, beyond that of humans and animals, through technology and physical (eg, fossil fuel) energy .we need to think of human power as relative not absolute; A and B each hold some power and we need to understand their relative power . the sources of human power are resources; organization; degree of motivation 3) The basic dynamic The subject of the course is the two-way interaction between humans and nature. So in the case of power, we are attempting to understand a model in which H-H power is in a reciprocal relationship (influencing and being influenced by) with NH power. . increase in H-H power, eg through technology, organization generates increase in H-NH power . NH-H power is influenced by H-H power; eg, a community’s vulnerability and resilience to climate change impacts is related to its economic capacity, which is a function of its power in the human world 2 Thus the distribution of relative power in the human world influences the power of humanity over nature, and of nature over humanity
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