IN RELAT TION TO T THE ENVIRONMEN NTAL DISC COURSES, S TO WHA EXTEN IS IT FA TO CONSIDER THAT GROWTH IS AT NT AIR R CONSTR RAINED B LIMITS? BY S
MSC ENVIRONME AND SUS ENT STAINABLE DEVELOPMENT BENVGE ES1 – THE POLITICAL EC COLOGY OF ENVIRONME NTAL CHANG GE SOFÍA MU USI ST TUDENT N UM MBER: 8413 08
NOVEM MBER 17, 2008 NUMBEROF W WORDS: 1,8 04
November 17, 2008. First, it is worth contextualizing the subject of this essay. In analysing the issues of to what extent is it fair to consider that growth is constrained by limits, the questions of “Which limits?” and “The growth of what?” arise. The answers to these vary in relation to each environmental discourse. In some cases the limits are only physical but somediscourses consider social and ethical limits as well. Most of the discourses talk about economic growth but some also discuss population and consumption growth among others. It is also important to state what will be considered by growth and fair in this document. Growth, as defined by Herman E. Daly, means “to increase naturally in size by the addition of material through assimilation or accretion”(1993, p. 268). Fair, as defined by the Oxford dictionary, means just or appropriate to the circumstances. Thus this essay will attempt to determine to what extent the relationship of limits and growth (that implies the assimilation of new resources) as seen by four representative environmental discourses is just or appropriate to the present circumstances, in other words, to what extent thatrelationship is real in terms of the actual facts. This document addresses four environmental discourses that have different views of the limits to growth. The election of these was made based on Dryzek’s classification explained in The Politics of the Earth: Environmental Discourses. In it, he defines a very useful categorization of environmental discourses according to their posture towards theeconomic growth and towards the question of whether or not the solution can be found in the present industrial political economy structures. In this sense, Dryzek defines four main categories: problem solving, survivalism, sustainability and green radicalism (Dryzek, 1997). Problem solving includes the environmental discourses that require the politicaleconomical status to adjust to the presentenvironmental problems in order to sustain the economic growth. On the other hand, sustainability requires a complete change in the political-economical structures but does not question the tendency of economic growth. Survivalism argues that economic and population growth will eventually deplete the Earth of resources but looks for a solution in the present political and economical conditions. Finally,green radical environmental discourses question both, economic growth and the politic-economic structures (Dryzek, 1997). Although Dryzek’s classification is a good starting point, some environmental discourses cannot be enclosed in only one category. Instead, those categories can be ranked in terms of their recognition of the existence of limits and their perception or questioning of growth. Thefollowing graph shows this ranking and the specific discourses that will be addressed in this essay.
P ro b le m s o lv in g Th e R e so u r c e fu l E a r th J u lia n S im o n a n d H e r m a n K a h n F ro m O n e E a r th to O n e W o r ld W o r ld c o m m i ss io n o n E n vi r o n m e n t a n d D e ve l o p m e n t
S u sta i n a b il ity
S u r viv a li sm
Lim i ts to G ro w t h C lu b o f R o m e
G r e e n R a d ica lis m
S u s ta in a b le G r o w th : A n Im p o s si b ili ty Th e o re m H e r m a n E . D a ly
Julian L. Simon and Herman Kahn in The Resourceful Earth severely critiqued the Global 2000 Report to the President arguing that it was “dead wrong” based on statistical projections that indicated that, contrary to...