The United States of America continues to be a global leader in many economic and social areas. However, America has given the environmental movement has been given a lukewarm response. Far from being a global leader, the United States lags behind in the implementation of green building technology, efficient automobile use, and renewable energy technology. It is a tragedy that is slowly being addressed but one that is often an issue divided along political lines. American conservatives, whether calling themselves Republicans, Libertarians, or Independents, often lament the progressive underpinnings of the green movement and fail to give full support to green initiatives. In the opinion of a conservative who is an advocate of sustainable practices and environmental stewardship, the environmental narrative needs to start at an earlier time for conservative Americans to understand the significance of the green movement. This piece is an analysis of the seminal works of Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean Jacques Rousseau, in order to find the causal connection between their influence on America’s Founding Fathers and environmental stewardship. Such thinkers were the revered voices of what is now considered a type of fresh and classic conservatism in Americas. To mine their work for sustainability concepts is a necessary step towards convincing conservative elements in the United States to see environmental stewardship as a part of our political heritage. In the end, a workable philosophical and policy narrative exists.
Colin W. Maguire
In The Natural Contract Michel Serres proposes that the bonds, liens and attachments between the human and nonhuman world could form the basis of a contract between humans and their habitat, similar to Rousseau’s enlightenment concept of the social contract. Using the example of Friends of the Earth Middle East Good Water Neighbours Project in the Wadi Fukin Valley in the Israeli Occupied West Bank, this paper employs The Natural Contract to examine the intentions and capacity of Environmental Peacebuilding (EPand its focus on mutual environmental issues in contested or conflict-ridden regions. Combining Serres’s bonds and attachments with Bennett’s theory of ‘vital materiality’ in Vibrant Matter, I argue that EP needs to recognise the active participation of nonhuman forces in conflict zones, and the agency of ‘matter’ as a partner in coalition-building towards a natural contract to be used for the purposes of human-centred peacebuilding. A ‘hearing’ of the nonhuman world includes an engagement with the possibility that matter has vitality and, in coalition with humans, possesses capacity and agency. An ontological shift away from anthropocentrism must occur. This may widen the focus on the environment, not solely as a site of scarcity, but as a field of relational and political possibilities. A basic premise of EP, that the environment ignores political boundaries, then can no longer be sustained. In Wadi Fukin the fragile hydrological system reacts to changing political boundaries, which manifest in ‘matter’ – e.g.,. pollution. Using vital materiality to further the possibility of a natural contract, the ‘hearing’ of habitat requires acknowledging that the nonhuman world is responsive to the point of being both active participant and possible weapon in human political boundaries or power relations. This view suggests future strategies that work against ecological degradation, towards sustainable justice and the possibilities of peaceful coexistence in ‘habitat.’
Hossain Seraj and Philip R. Walsh
It is widely accepted that air transport requires, and will continue to require, liquid fuels into the near future. In this regard biofuels, consisting of a wide range of naturally derived products, most notably bioethanol and biodiesel, provide vital options for pursuing a sustainable road to powering the global air transportation network. IEA in its 2050 biofuel roadmap stipulates the expansion of biofuels from 2% to 27% of global transportation fuels by 2050 could potentially displace enough petroleum to reduce emissions equivalent to 2.1 gigatonnes of CO2 – about as much as the net CO2 absorbed by the ocean. But life cycle studies of corn-based bioethanol have reported minimal or greater greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions when compared to petrol equivalents. Favourable government policies, environmental legislations and emission standards are seen to be good indicators of biofuel development in the years to come. The massive proliferation of first generation biofuels has not come without significant social costs and controversy. The rush to develop biofuels has diverted substantial amounts of agricultural resources from food production towards bio-refineries. The profitability of energy crops have prompted many farmers to shift from growing food crops to cultivating fuel crops causing a ripple effect whereby compensatory food production was extended to forested areas and non-conventional agricultural lands. In tropical countries like Malaysia and Indonesia, favourable policies have allowed for largescale deforestation to accommodate palm oil production. This chapter serves to provide a comparison of the economic, social and environmental impacts and benefits of algae biofuel for air transport with first generation biofuels and conventional fossil fuels using a life cycle assessment (LCA) approach. The findings suggest that while algae biofuel production compares favourably with alternatives in terms of its social and environmental impact there remains a need for further technical innovation in order to make it economically sustainable.
Ingrid M. Hoofd
This chapter argues that the anthropogenic climate change model and its activisms are outgrows of the acceleration of the humanist aporia, and are as such the hypermodern enactments of traditional environmentalism. It claims that climate science and activism illustrate the contradiction internal to humanism, because their assumption is that certain human activity is responsible for our ecological crisis, while simultaneously calling upon similar human action and debate to avert this crisis. This paradox shows that our era of technological acceleration still affirms an arrogant image of the human in its very attempt at critiquing human mastery of ‘nature.’ The chapter in turn argues that this aporetic logic generates a simulation of climate change in the media. This simulation is certainly ‘real,’ but is also a prime metaphor for our era of acceleration and its economic instability. Since much environmental activism and debate fails to sufficiently deepen its critique vis-à-vis the raised stakes under acceleration, this chapter claims that the division into ‘for’ or ‘against’ the reality of climate change serves to silence more intricate analyses of the fundamental problems facing humanity today.
Jorge M. Valadez
In this chapter I defend an ecological conception of justice obligations that is expansive and synoptic in its normative scope. This ecological conception systematically integrates our justice obligations in the social and natural domains by relying on an overarching view of justice, according to which obligations to entities with moral status are understood in terms of safeguarding their capacity for adaptation to social and/or natural environments conducive to their flourishing. An innovative feature of my theory is that it incorporates major social justice developments in political philosophy into a unified moral framework that can also deal adequately with justice obligations to the natural world. On the one hand, while recognising that we have cosmopolitan obligations to all human beings, I maintain that institutional environments such as political communities are essential for identifying the special obligations we have to fellow members of our communities. Adopting a social ecology approach, entitlements and protections of central importance to theories of social justice are justified in terms of their role in creating sustainable social and natural environments conducive to collective adaptation. On the other hand, recognising that moral consciousness developed from evolutionary processes that contributed to the adaptation of humans to their natural environment, I argue that a proper extension and understanding of morality and justice involve protecting the capacity of all beings with moral status, and not only humans, to flourish through successful adaptation. In short, principles of justice are understood as normative prescriptions promoting mutual survival and flourishing within a coevolutionary perspective. Finally, acknowledging that conflicting obligations are inevitable when implementing the conception of justice I propose, I employ the notion of degrees of intrinsic value to indicate how to prioritise our obligations to entities with moral status.
Thomas Matyók and Cathryne L. Schmitz
Environmental issues are complex and multifaceted. Human systems (social, economic, and political) as currently operating within the biophysical environment contribute to increasing degradation. The road to an environmentally just future requires an integrated response engaging multiple and disparate disciplines from social and natural sciences. Productive remediation of environmental degradation necessitates multi-faceted, multi-layered development at local community levels, and within a global context. Disciplinary silos embedded in academic institutions, however, fail to educate graduates for the complex and multi-faceted responses required for success in the field. A model is provided for the creation of a learning context that centres interdisciplinary creative team building.
This chapter deals with Chilean indigenous law and its evolution experimented after the ratification of the ILO Convention 169. One of the most important changes is that indigenous communities and individuals have been recognised as right-holders of international rights. That idea has triggered a legal revolution: natives have used international provisions in criminal and environmental trials. Because in those cases indigenous custom is crucial, a multidisciplinary approach is essential in order to adjudicate with fairness. With the purpose of achieving that, the presence of anthropologists or ethnographers as expert witnesses has been fundamental.
Charismatic organisms are a keystone of global conservation for which flora and fauna have been the focus. Meanwhile, another kingdom of organisms has been almost entirely neglected. The kingdom Fungi provides the connective fibre between all kingdoms through mutually beneficial symbioses, underpinning almost every terrestrial ecosystem on the planet. How can we be serious about environmental justice when we disregard an entire kingdom? Leading mycologists consider that ecosystem approaches to conservation that exclude fungi are so compromised as to be critically invalid. Failure to recognise the role of fungi in soil health in industrialised farming is directly reflected in the global explosion of human health issues. Rethinking current agricultural approaches to incorporate fungi in the nutrient dynamics of soils could reverse this trend. Innovative approaches to forging human connections with fungi are vital to their recognition and inclusion in conservation and agriculture. Fungi represent not only a critical part of our biodiversity, but are also deeply entwined in our cultural heritage. Civilisations have been enriched and extended by fungal remedies and wild edible fungi are harvested in over 80 countries providing vital subsistence nutrition. This chapter will include an examination of cultural connections with fungi and the challenges of ensuring their protection, focussing on Australia and Europe. It will also examine the use of fungi in English speaking cultures as a means to reconnecting people with ‘natural’ environments. Much of the dynamism of the natural world occurs in transition zones or ‘interface’ environments. This is also the domain of fungi. Likewise, the best possibilities for conserving both ‘natural’ environments and agricultural systems through inclusion of fungi are likely to emerge at the intersections of disciplinary thought.
George N. Politis
It is very common to link the uncontrolled growth of capitalism with the environmental crisis. The argument continues that socialism, as the major alternative to capitalism, could help communities and humanity as a whole to follow a different value system, one that is compatible with sustainable development and environmental needs. My chapter argues that there is a serious discrepancy in this approach. The philosophical analysis of liberal capitalism and marxist socialism exposes that they both share the same foundation. This foundation lies in the starting point of the modern system of thought as suggested by Descartes, according to which the scope of human existence on earth is to dominate nature. It is precisely this common starting point that makes both systems believe that they exclusively express reason. Therefore, the environmental crisis is not the unavoidable result of capitalism, which socialism could solve but the unavoidable result of the social imaginary, which capitalism and socialism both share. If this is true, then the possible solution of the environmental crisis has to be the development of a different value system, which could form an accordingly different social imaginary. My chapter concludes that the moral framework of liberal philosophy is compatible with this approach.