August 3, 2006

Perspectives and Essential Resources

The dangers of global warming, pollution, and resource depletion are real, they are happening now, and they suggest a moral imperative to act.

The National Association of Evangelicals’ call to action on climate change issued in February, the media success of Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, and the recent G8 talks on energy security, are examples of a broad agreement that significant changes in our relations to nature and natural resources are necessary.

The Carnegie Council has been focusing on environmental issues for over a decade, as part of its work on human rights and global social justice. We provide a forum to develop environmental solutions that meet the demands of human rights protection, justice, development, and sustainability.

Our most recent publication, Forging Environmentalism: Justice, Livelihood, and Contested Environments (Joanne Bauer, ed.), is an example of our efforts in this direction. Forging Environmentalism trains a spotlight on the big players in environmental politics—China, Japan, India, and the United States.  The book examines the social and cultural values that people bring to bear on environmental problems and how they mobilize those values to create and sustain programs and movements of environmental action in their communities and countries. Greeted with acclaim from noted environmentalists such as Gustave Speth, it was chosen as a Foreign Policy Association Summer 2006 Pick

To augment the book, the Council has posted an Online Companion, designed both for the general reader and as a study guide to educators. It offers additional resources, an online exclusive, discussion questions, and chapter synopses. Go to: Forging Environmentalism. You can also purchase your copy of the book online.

For more on the environment, we are pleased to offer you a selection of Carnegie Council resources.

Global Warming

Place-Based Environmentalism and Global Warming: Conceptual Contradictions of American Environmentalism
Daniel Somers Smith, Carnegie Council Fellow 2000-2001
Although American environmentalism has had considerable success in addressing threats to particular places and resources, this well-organized and enormously popular social movement has not resulted in effective action on the problem of global warming. A partial explanation lies in the internal contradictions of environmentalism itself. (Ethics & International Affairs 15.2, 2001)

The Global Warming Tragedy and the Dangerous Illusion of the Kyoto Protocol
Stephen Gardiner, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, University of Utah
Gardiner insists that the Kyoto agreement, far from being too demanding, does too little to protect future generations. (Ethics & International Affairs 18.1, 2004)

Global Crises, Global Solutions
Bjorn Lomborg, Founder, The Copenhagen Consensus
Asking how we can get “the best bang for the buck,” the controversial Lomborg argues that the $50 billion that will be spent on development assistance over the next four years ought to be spent on realistic goals such as ending malnutrition and communicable diseases—not on reducing global warming. (Public Affairs Program, 2005)

Fairness, Responsibility, and Climate Change
Paul G. Harris, Associate Professor of Politics, Lingnan University, Hong Kong
Harris says that while the precise pace and effects of climate change are uncertain, this does not justify inaction on the part of the world community. (Ethics & International Affairs 17.1, 2003)

Natural Resources Depletion

PLAN B: Rescuing a Planet under Stress and a Civilization in Trouble
Lester Brown, Founder, Worldwatch
Founder of Worldwatch in 1974, Lester Brown has been sounding the alarm about the state of the planet for decades. Warning that we now have a "bubble economy" based on over-consumption of the earth's capital, he urges that steps be taken immediately to raise water productivity, stabilize the world's population, and cut carbon emissions in half by 2015. (Public Affairs Program, 2003)

Resource Wars: The New Landscape of Global Conflict
Michael Klare, Five College Professor of Peace & World Security Studies
Unprecedented rates of consumption, population growth and globalization are setting the stage for violent conflict over natural resources in the future. To avert such conflicts we should adopt a cooperative approach including international collaboration in the development of new technologies, alternative sources, increased efficiency, and an equitable distribution of the world’s resources. (Public Affairs Program, 2001)

Blue Gold: The Fight to Stop the Corporate Theft of the World’s Water
Maude Barlow, National Volunteer Chairperson of the Council of Canadians
The amount of fresh water in the world is disappearing at an alarming rate. The answer to the impending crisis is good governance, and a new “water ethic,” where water is not seen as a tradable commodity, argues Maude Barlow. “The commodification of water is ethically, environmentally, and socially wrong. It would ensure that decisions regarding the allocation of water are based on commercial, not environmental or social-justice considerations.” (Public Affairs Program, 2002)

Environmental Policy

Red Sky at Morning: America and the Crisis of the Global Environment
James Gustave Speth, Dean, Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies
Speth's recommended steps for transitioning into sustainability range from creating a world environmental organization with the requisite power to make treaties with teeth, to encouraging innovative measures at the local level—what he calls "green jazz." (Public Affairs Program, 2004)

The Real Environment Crisis: Why Poverty, Not Affluence, Is the Environment's Number One Enemy
Dale Jamieson (reviewer), Professor of Environmental Studies, New York University
Dale Jamieson criticizes Jack Hollander’s assertion that affluence is the solution, rather than the cause, of environmental problems. (Ethics & International Affairs 18.1, 2004)

Johannesburg: Achievements and Challenges
Nitin Desai, Secretary-General of the Johannesburg Summit
Desai reports that a major achievement of the UN's Johannesburg summit was reaching consensus on the need to provide sustainable energy to the 2 billion people who fall outside the modern energy net.  (Public Affairs Program, 2002)

Human Rights Dialogue Magazine: "Environmental Rights"
Human rights activists from various countries discuss whether environmental rights deserve protection as a basic human right. Perspectives from Cambodia, former Czechoslovakia, Guatemala, India, Iraq, Papua, the U.S, Africa and Latin America. (Human Rights Dialogue 2 .11, 2004)

The Carnegie Council Recommends:

Infinite Nature
R. Bruce Hull*
In this engaging and informed book R. Bruce Hull argues convincingly that the success of environmentalism depends on its ability to avoid the trap of fundamentalism and polarized ideologies. Showing the numerous ways people relate to and experience nature—from the mechanical and functional to the esthetic, spiritual, and moral—the book pluralizes and expands the debate on the environment. In doing so, Infinite Nature represents an important step towards “pragmatic pluralism,” in which environmental action is based on civic discourse and the acceptance of differences.

* Bruce Hull was a participant in the 2003 Carnegie faculty development workshop “Ethics, Science, and Policy: Environmental Education for a Transnational World”