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01 19 Lecture Condensing - Environment.docx

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Geography 3312A/B
Haroon Akram Lodhi

Climate change, ecology and sustainable development: is it too late?  Ecological degradation is not new – it’s been happening regularly throughout history  There have been massive extinctions before – at one point, 97% of the planet was wiped out What’s new this time: o The rate and scale is paralleled & there is public awareness Why do people deny it 1. Incompetent scholarship 2. Biased research by people paid by energy industries  Being encouraged to drive cars & use air conditioners 3. A confusion between weather & climate  Weather: A variable, local and immediate phenomenon  Climate: Regular range of highs & lows of temperature & precipitation 4. Lack of agreement about the character of humanity’s relationship with nature a. Is nature capricious, driving global changes: fatalist b. Is nature robust, capable of withstanding human action: entrepreneurial expansionist c. Is nature robust, but within limits: hierarchist d. Is nature inherently fragile: communard  These 4 perspectives as to whether nature is fragile or robust produce conflicting perspectives o about the scale of ecological degradation o about the scope of ecological degradation o about how to develop coherent policies for the environment o about how to govern ecological policy-making  Meyer and Turner (1995) argue that these 4 perspectives are largely impossible to verify or refute – and so they describe them as myths  These 4 myths give different views to why ecological degradation & climate change is happening 1. a problem of population?  are there too many people for carrying capacity? 2. a problem of poverty?  does a lack of wealth and resources make it harder to invest in environmental protection? 3. a problem of growth and overconsumptiion?  global consumer society and the world system of accumulation is bad for the environment and fails to recognize that the economy is a (smaller) part of the (larger) environment  This is what we mean by “progress” and modernity – overcoming scarcity 4. a problem of the domination of nature?  overcoming scarcity through the domination of nature by human beings lies at the core of the idea of modernity, progress and development  There are elements of truth in all of these  They also give rise to different views as to what can be done about ecological degradation and climate change 1. there are those that deny there is a problem • it is part of the planet’s natural cycle, and renewal is part of the cycle 2. there are those that believe there is a problem, and the market can solve it • excessive government intervention gets in the way of markets solving the problem 3. there are those that believe in a technological solution • human ingenuity can overcome any obstacle 4. there are those that believe that environmental degradation requires a fundamental reordering of societies and economies • structural transformation of societies and economies are a precondition of achieving sustainability  Efforts to try and globally manage climate change is organized by the United Nations using Conferences of the Parties (COP) through the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), for wh
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