Thursday, April 22nd, 2010
Riley Dunlap has an interesting article, At 40, Environmental Movement Endures, With Less Consensus, with new Gallup poll results that’s worth reading.
April 22 marks the 40th anniversary of the first Earth Day, an event widely considered to be the birth of the modern environmental movement. Few social movements survive 40 years, so in this sense alone, environmentalism might be considered successful. On the other hand, the movement has had limited success in policy arenas in recent years, leading to allegations of the “death of environmentalism.” In addition, this year’s Gallup Environment poll finds historically low levels of public worry about environmental problems (particularly global warming) and support for environmental protection. Are we witnessing the end of environmentalism as a significant social movement and, in the eyes of many, a major progressive force in the United States?
Read more to find out…
Friday, October 23rd, 2009
In the latest issue of Ecology and Society (open access), Colin Beier and colleagues provide an interesting case study of the Tongass National Forest (Alaska), examining the social-ecological dynamics of resource systems and why they often fail–in the long term–to deliver either improvements in public welfare or ecological sustainability. It’s important to note that they’re talking about a paradigm typical of 19-20th Century USA (i.e., post-colonial people of European descent in North America).
What I like about this case study is its generality to several kinds of natural resources and the lessons it offers when considering development in the modern world.
You’ll see at the end that they describe a solution similar to the growing Indigenous and Community Conserved Areas (ICCA) movement promoted by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). And you’ll see an example of the changing focus of The Nature Conservancy as they work to promote sustainable development alongside conservation.
Government efforts to stimulate the development of natural resources for public benefit often seek to implement a vision at grand scales that, over time, creates a cycle of dependency that undermines the original social purpose as well as the resource base that was intended to be sustained. In the United States, this has occurred with respect to agriculture, forestry, fisheries, water, and many other types of resource systems. Similar cycles of dependency have emerged through international aid programs to developing nations that were intended to create self-sufficiency through resource development. Although the goals of these programs are often socially admirable and provide an economic stimulus to initiate changes that would otherwise lack the resources to emerge —i.e., to escape from poverty traps —they often result in challenging social traps that can constrain options for future generations. Why have these governance efforts failed so consistently, and what lessons can be learned that would enlighten efforts to address new frontiers of resource governance and public welfare in a rapidly changing world?
What did they find?
Tuesday, October 13th, 2009
This piece1,2 by writer Jenny Price in Environmental History (subscription required) is an interesting take on the ongoing battle for the soul of environmentalism. I recommend getting access to and reading the entire article.
A few excerpts:
Environmentalism, in sum, has taken some very serious hits. Many of its most familiar and cherished icons have come under a veil of suspicion. Thoreau? Inspiring—but urged us to see nature as the antidote to the places we live. Yosemite? Spectacular, and essential for many reasons—and a site of violent conquest. And a white refuge from the troubles of cities. And culturally constructed to boot. Silent Spring? Indispensable to the ensuing 1960s and 1970s legislation—but apocalyptic, the reapers complain, with a millennial, paralyzing vision of nature as the pure true world that humans by definition violate. What would have happened with the civil rights movement, they ask, if Martin Luther King had given an “I have a nightmare” instead of an “I have a dream” speech? Ditto for the Cuyahoga River fire in Cleveland in 1969 and the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska in 1989. The earth from space? We may all live on one planet together, but environmental justice advocates have pointed out also that we are not entirely all in this together….