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Geography of Mutual Aid, Part 2

This is a response to the article written by Shellenberger and Nordhaus entitled “The Death of Environmentalism.” The focus of their work is that environmental community’s narrow definition of its self-interest leads to a kind of policy literalism that undermines its power to create substantial changes on how we relate to the environment in terms of production, industrialization and urbanization.

Shellenberger and Nordhaus presented several cases (from energy efficient light bulbs, to hybrid cars, etc) about how current environmentalists seek to institute policies affecting specific aspects of the environment in accordance with their interest, as oppose to seeing the environment as a collection of processes and substances that work together to create and sustain life. On this note, they concluded their study on the conceptualization that the current thoughts as what is constituted to be “environmental” has been narrowed down to definition of specific aspects in the environment, in this case, a “thing” or “substance” of “interest rather than a connection of processes and things in the Universe” (Shellenberger and Nordhaus, 2004).

They also asserted that in scope of the current trends in the environmental movement as pointed out earlier, which is solely base on political interests and their need to exploit the environment for a particular resource(s), that modern environmentalism is no longer capable of dealing with the world’s most serious ecological crisis, because as their study found, over the last 15 years environmental foundations and organizations have invested hundreds of millions of dollars into combating global warming and climate change. "We have strikingly little to show for it” (Shellenberger and Nordhaus, 2004). This is an overstatement of the fact because considering our economic system and how we live our lives in this country; people are trying their best to rethink how they use resources from the environment or how they conserve energy. Their statement underscores lots of community-based approaches, actions and statewide programs that seek to reduce our impacts on the environment. Considering our current economic development and lifestyle, it will be totally unworthy to degenerate our lifestyles into the lifestyles of prehistoric times. What I think should be done and is partly in progress is to redefine how we use resources from the environment in a sustainable manner. On this note, the invention of hybrid cars and energy efficient light bulbs and other equipments are necessary if we want to have a significant positive impact on the environment and thus reduce the release of greenhouse gases (GHG) into the Earth’s atmosphere. A change in our political system that will promote and enhance environmental protection and sustainability is a hallmark of what I think is necessary. We need people from the local, state and national levels in various offices both in the private and public sectors that will institute “good environmental policies” not on the basis of their political or personal interests, but for the interest of humanity and nature at large. This will be conditioned on excellent programs that will educate the general public (without bias) about issues concerning the environment and how life on Earth is dependent on how we use, manage, protect and sustain nature’s resources. This change is not the sole responsibility of some few individuals who call themselves environmentalists, but all of humanity. This rest on each and everybody and it is our collective and individual responsibilities to make sure that the environment is protected and sustained.

“In the face of perhaps the greatest calamity in modern history, environmental leaders are sanguine that selling technical solutions like florescent light bulbs, more efficient appliances, and hybrid cars will be sufficient to muster the necessary political strength to overcome the alliance of neoconservative ideologues and industry interests in Washington, D.C” (Shellenberger and Nordhaus, 2004). I think this statement is not realistic and seems to be an understatement about the efforts made so far to help reduce the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and through this mean conserve energy. Are they suggesting that we should do away with electricity? How can we be able to address the energy crisis, if we are limited by creativity in developing equipments that efficiently conserve energy? One means is through the development of energy efficient devices that will conserve energy as oppose to wasting energy.

This is a summary of what I understood from the article written by Stephen Healy (now a Professor at Worcester State College) and Julie Graham entitled “Building Community Economics: A Post-capitalist Project of Sustainable Development.” This article suggests that the economy is considered to be powerful, it is not the only source of power within a country or state. “The economy can be thought of as a global system or container that determines the fate of all localities irrespective of their localities, demographic characteristics, nations, regions within nations, or municipalities” (Healy and Graham, 2008). Localities are a subset of the global economy. Based upon the assumption that “export generates economic development, which brings money to the local area from other regions. This can subsequently lead to more available job opportunities for local community members involved in the input and output processes. The authors used the conception of “castration” to demonstrate the idea of the relationship between the global economy and the local economic development in which “firms function or act as the father when they decide on one community or against the other in an effort to get the biggest incentives package” (Healy and Graham, 2008). It is expedient for individual communities to demonstrate that they are ready to accomplish their demands in order to be permitted some modicum of the development package. This will also evidently involved for communities to sacrifice some rights, which may likely involved substantial impacts on the environment and adverse health impact by the activities and process of their economic development programs.


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