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This essay consist of 3 main parts Part 1: describe and analyze 3 different environmental paradigmsConquest mentality, preservation/conservation, modern environmentalism, environmental justice, Bruntland sustainability, corporate environmentalismContext: Who? What? When? Where? Why?- Note: These are different ways of understanding humanity’s relationship with nature, explain your stance – make an argument about which paradigm you think is most convincing“Convincing” as far as which underlying ideology can lead to solving climate and environmental issues – A single paradigm may not be perfect; feel free to combine elements of other paradigms to create your ideal paradigm (but make sure they don’t contradict)Part 2 : describe and analyze 2 different alternate worlds/proposals- Technological fixes, free market/ corporate environmentalism, social democratic, eco-socialismContext: Who? What? When? Where? Why? – Cite class material! § You must cite course reading and lectures Note: These are the practical solutions to climate change that have been proposed • make an argument about which solution(s) you think best align with your paradigmDemonstrate how a belief in the paradigm you described in Part 1 is intrinsic to or supportive of the proposed solution.Part 3offer a creative solution that creates an ideal world that could solve this crisis- Idea should be original but derived from the lessons of the class. Not simple regurgitation of information, but an application of what you havelearned to a new solution• Is your world different from today’s business-as-usual world? Don’t describe a system already in place (that will presumably lead to the “Collapse of Western Civilization”) but an idea for how the world can be improved.Please make sure you use quotation from the reading to support your claim including the page number and the author’s namePart I: 3.5-4 pagesPart II: 1.5-2 pagesPart II: 2-3 pagesTotal: 7.5-8.5 pagesThese links and the attached documents are required for this essay: https://nacla.org/news/2015/08/07/not-so-%E2%80%9Cpeacefully%E2%80%9D-greenhttps://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4764208/Child-miners-aged-four-living-hell-Earth.htmlhttps://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2017/aug/24/nickel-mining-hidden-environmental-cost-electric-cars-batterieshttps://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/09/rise-of-the-davos-class-sealed-americas-fatehttps://www.jacobinmag.com/2019/02/green-new-deal-climate-change-policy
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NYU Press
Chapter Title: An Ecological Revolution Is Not Just Possible—It’s Essential
Book Title: What Every Environmentalist Needs to Know About Capitalism
Book Author(s): Fred Magdoff and John Bellamy Foster
Published by: NYU Press, . (2011)
Stable URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt9qfm89.9
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Every Environmentalist Needs to Know About Capitalism
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6. An Ecological Revolution Is Not
Just Possible—It’s Essential
I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils,
namely through the establishment of a socialist economy. . . . A
planned economy which adjusts production to the needs of the
community, would distribute the work to be done among all those
able to work and would guarantee a livelihood to every man,
woman, and child. The education of the individual, in addition to
promoting his own innate abilities, would attempt to develop in
him a sense of responsibility for his fellow men in place of the glorification of power and success in our present society.
—ALBERT
EINSTEIN 1
The analysis in earlier chapters, if correct, points to the fact that
the ecological crisis cannot be solved within the logic of the present economic/political/social system. The various suggestions for
doing so have no hope of success. The system of world capitalism
is clearly unsustainable in: (1) its quest for never-ending accumulation of capital leading to production that must constantly
expand to provide profits; (2) its agriculture and food system that
pollutes the environment and still does not allow universal access
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W H A T E V E R Y E N V I R O N M E N TA L I S T N E E D S T O K N O W
to a sufficient quantity and quality of food; (3) its rampant
destruction of the environment; (4) its continual enhancing of the
inequality of income and wealth within and between countries;
(5) its search for technological magic bullets as a way of avoiding
the growing social and ecological problems arising from the system’s own functioning and operations; and (6) its promotion and
rewarding of personality characteristics that lead to loss of connection with fellow humans, with communities, and with nature.
What Can Be Done Now?
To call for an ecological revolution against capitalist society is of
course to open oneself to the criticism that such a solution would
simply take too long to effect even if it were possible, given the
sheer urgency of the global ecological crisis, which presents us
with tipping points a decade or two (or even less) away. Shouldn’t
we be thinking about what can be done now? Indeed, the urgency
of the situation cries out for immediate action. But any actions to
be taken today, if they are to be effective, must be framed in terms
of the larger goal of an ecological revolution. As Paul Sweezy
wrote in “Capitalism and the Environment” in 1989:
What has to be done to resolve the environmental crisis, hence
also to insure that humanity has a future, is to replace capitalism
with a social order based on an economy devoted not to maximizing private profit and accumulating ever more capital but
rather to meeting real human needs and restoring the environment to a sustainably healthy condition. This, in a nutshell, is
the meaning of revolutionary change today.2
But obviously this can’t happen all at once. Such an ecological
revolution must start from where we currently stand, recognizing
that we must try to address the immediate, most pressing dangers,
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AN ECOLOGICAL REVOLUTION IS . . . ESSENTIAL
125
while simultaneously working toward the longer goal of replacing
capitalism with a more humane and sustainable social order.
There are things that have been done and that can be done
even within capitalist society to lessen the system’s negative
effects on the environment and people. Much more can be
accomplished, however, if we focus on what needs to be done,
rather than on the limits the system imposes. We cannot, for
example, refuse to do what is absolutely necessary to protect the
earth, just because the profit system seemingly will not allow it.
We must push the capitalist system to its bottom line in terms of
sustainability criteria—and then cross that bottom line: putting
people and the environment before profits. History teaches that
although capitalism has at times responded to environmental
movements—without which the system might have by now completely destroyed the environment—at a certain point, at which
the system’s underlying accumulation drive is affected, its resistance to environmental demands stiffens. Those with vested interests move quickly to block or disable changes that threaten their
profits or the system as a whole, however necessary these are to
protect humanity and the earth. “Long before that point [at
which the existence of the system itself is threatened] is reached,”
Sweezy wrote, “the capitalist class, including the state which it
controls, mobilizes its defenses to repulse the environmental-protection measures perceived as dangerously extreme.”3
We must therefore recognize that even if everything that can
be done inside capitalism is done, it won’t solve the underlying
problem—an economic system that causes environmental and
social damage in the very way it functions. This means that for
meaningful and enduring solutions to our environmental problems, a very strong social-political movement is needed, both to
counter the weight of corporate interests and to change the system itself. Some people are making the choice to live more in concert with the environment, and this is a good thing, one to be
encouraged. However, mass movements and major restructuring
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W H A T E V E R Y E N V I R O N M E N TA L I S T N E E D S T O K N O W
of the economy and society are essential if we are to save the
planet. Such mass movements must struggle for measures to save
humanity and the planet in the present, while recognizing that
this ultimately points to the need for a revolution in our entire
way of life in the future.
People as individuals and, more effectively, as part of organizations and mass movements, can demand major changes. Some
organizations have come to the conclusion that direct action—for
example, blocking trains bringing coal to power plants—is necessary. They may well be right to have concluded that only those
actions that disrupt the system at environmentally strategic points
have any chance of bringing meaningful change. But even if you are
not ready to go to such lengths, there are many areas in which it is
important to struggle in the here and now to address urgent environmental problems, and at the same time create the basis in our movements and culture for the even bigger changes that must follow.
This is not an exhaustive list, and is arranged in no particular
order, but constitutes what we believe might reasonably be
thought of as a short-term agenda for environmental activists, prioritizing those issues that are most important:
• Institute a carbon tax of the kind proposed by James Hansen,
in which 100 percent of the dividends go back to the public.
This would encourage conservation, while placing the burden
on those with the largest carbon footprints and the most
wealth. If the tax is returned to the population with the same
amount going to each person, poor people and others using
less than the average amount of energy will get more back than
they paid in increased costs. In contrast, those using a lot
more energy than the average person will end up getting much
less back than the extra they paid because of the tax.
• Block new coal-fired plants (without sequestration of gaseous
carbon dioxide, which is not feasible at present) and close
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AN ECOLOGICAL REVOLUTION IS . . . ESSENTIAL
127
down old ones. Although some will regard this as extreme, it
is absolutely necessary in order to protect the planet from climate change.4
• Place a block on any attempt to use tar sands and oil/gas shale
production to replace diminishing crude oil supplies, since
these are even more dangerous from a climate change standpoint, emitting larger amounts of carbon dioxide. Exploiting
these sources does other environmental damage as well—to
land and ground and surface waters.
• Make the United States participate with the other nations of
the world to draft a world agreement for a drastic reduction in
carbon emissions. This should follow the Peoples’ Agreement
of the World Peoples’ Conference on Climate Change and the
Rights of Mother Earth (see Appendix). The 2013 to 2017
period demands at least 50 percent reduction in domestic
emissions of the developed countries based on 1990s levels,
excluding carbon markets and offset mechanisms.
Agreements must be binding on all parties. A fund needs to be
provided to help developing countries pay for the costs associated with adapting to climate change.
• Push for the wealthy countries, especially the United States, to
back contraction and convergence in carbon emissions at the
world level, moving to uniform world per capita emissions,
with cutbacks far deeper in the rich countries with large per
capita carbon footprints.5
• End the extraction of natural resources that are prone to
excessive environmental damage. Safer drilling in the deep
waters of the Gulf of Mexico is preferable to unsafe practices.
And a stronger regulatory agency that oversees this drilling is
preferable to one that sees industry’s interests as more imporThis content downloaded from 169.228.118.179 on Wed, 06 Mar 2019 22:46:33 UTC
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tant than those of the public’s interests. But the exploitation of
difficult-to-get resources in fragile areas, such as deep-sea oil,
should not be allowed at all.
• Make more efficient use of energy, together with reducing
energy use. More efficient cars do not necessarily lead to less
energy use. However, if people are encouraged to use their
more energy-efficient cars/lighting/gadgets less, it might help
the environment. We should encourage use of the tremendous quantity of waste heat from industry, especially powergenerating plants, to heat (and/or cool) homes and offices.
Waste heat can also be used to keep greenhouses productive
in cold seasons.
• Provide for all of the world’s energy needs with wind, water,
and sunlight (WWS), eliminating fossil fuel use—without
resorting to biofuels or nuclear power. This means relying on
wind, wave, geothermal, small hydroelectric, tidal, solar photovoltaic (PV), and concentrated solar power (CSP) systems.
Transportation technologies consistent with WWS systems
must rely primarily on battery-electric vehicles, hydrogen fuel
cells and hybrid hydrogen fuels, and in the case of aircraft, liquefied hydrogen. There needs to be a massive, planned shift of
energy systems worldwide to WWS technologies.6
• Promote mass transit, including high-speed trains for intercity
travel and light rail and dedicated bus lanes in cities, to reduce
car dependency. The huge subsidies presently directed at private car use should be shifted to more efficient and environmentally sound forms of public transport.
• Make the U.S. EPA enhance its efforts to ensure that environmental justice concerns are integral to its decision-making
process. Poor neighborhoods, villages, and countries should
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AN ECOLOGICAL REVOLUTION IS . . . ESSENTIAL
129
not be used as dumping grounds for toxic garbage, incinerators, or for locating especially polluting industries.
• Encourage a more sustainable agriculture that eliminates wherever possible ecologically destructive industrial agricultural
practices. The inhumane raising of farm animals under crowded
and unhealthy factory-like conditions, which necessitate routine
antibiotic use that promotes new resistant bacteria to develop,
must be stopped—for social, humanitarian, and ecological reasons. People in many developed countries have the possibility to
purchase food directly from producers at farmers’ markets and
through community-supported agriculture (CSA) farms.7
• Combat the extreme rifts between city and country, in which
out-of-control urban development and sprawl eradicate rural
areas, and at the same time place more demands on rural
areas. Huge city slums must be eliminated. The ownership of
vast agricultural estates by a small part of the population in
most countries must be transcended through equitable land
reform and redistribution, allowing for a more rational agriculture and settlement of people.
• Reverse the privatization of the world’s freshwater and make
freshwater a right of all people, under public control and managed in the public interest. Both water conservation and the
cleanup of water resources should be top priorities. The rapid
drawing down of groundwater resources must cease.8
• Push for binding international agreements that limit fishing by
factory-size ships; stop the catch of endangered species such
as the bluefin tuna; and drastically reduce the catch of species
that are in decline. We should only promote the farming of fish
species that can be fed non-fish aquatic diets (many farmed
fish are fed other, smaller fish, which depletes the lower parts
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of the ocean’s food chain and endangers wild species) and
grown in ways that do not allow diseases or parasites to enter
the wild population.
• Protect habitats of threatened and endangered species around
the world to ensure the biological diversity in the face of what
is now called “the sixth extinction.”9
• Develop a better social safety-net system, one with universal
health care, expanded social security, better protection against
unemployment, living wages, and access to an adequate quantity and quality of food.
• Create new jobs for workers displaced from manufacturing
plants, through a massive effort to develop and implement
greener technologies and industries and to increase reliance
on small-scale farming. We need to struggle—in the words of
President Franklin D. Roosevelt in his 1944 State of the
Union address to Congress, in which he outlined the need for
an Economic Bill of Rights—for “the right to a useful and
remunerative job . . . the right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation . . . the right of every
family to a decent home . . . the right to adequate medical care
and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health . . . the
right to a good education.”10
• Achieve a more equitable distribution of resources, using
every means at our disposal, including taxation, public works,
building affordable housing for the poor—whatever will do
the job—to create a more equal distribution of resources.
• Stop the “revolving door,” through which elements of the
power elite rotate between business/lobbying and working for
government agencies or being members of Congress.
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AN ECOLOGICAL REVOLUTION IS . . . ESSENTIAL
131
• Bring an end to the imposition of increased environmental
risks on people due to race, class, gender, and nationality.
Environmental justice is a key to any genuine environmental
movement in the present and future. The environmental
movement must be built from the ground up on the basis of
environmental justice and sustainability. As Angela Park eloquently argued in her report, Everybody’s Movement:
Environmental Justice and Climate Change (2009), the movement against global warming can only be everybody’s movement if it places environmental justice issues at the center of its
understanding of the necessary change.11
• Cut military spending massively across-the-board and all
forms of imperial expenditures. Close down foreign military
bases. Shift this spending to social needs and the defense of
the environment.
• Perhaps the most important thing that people can do—while
participating with groups in struggles to improve the environment—is to talk about the larger issue of how the economic system itself promotes environmental destruction and
to join with others who have this understanding in working
for change.
Emerging Radical Movements
All over the world radical struggles and experiments are occurring in the interstices of capitalist society aimed at creating a more
just and sustainable society. If history tells us anything, it is that
progressive change occurs in response to people organizing and
fighting for it. So something that can be done now is to join
organizations committed to the creation of a new society—ones
that are willing to work in coalitions with other groups and
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W H A T E V E R Y E N V I R O N M E N TA L I S T N E E D S T O K N O W
understand that the broad struggle for a better world has goals of
social and economic justice as well as a healthy environment.
Indigenous peoples today, given new impetus by the ongoing
revolutionary struggle in Bolivia, are reinforcing a new ethic of
responsibility to the earth. La Vía Campesina, a global peasantfarmer organization, is promoting new forms of ecological agriculture, as is Brazil’s MST (Movimento dos Trabalhadores
Rurais Sem Terra), as well as Cuba and Venezuela. Venezuelan
president Hugo Chávez has raised the social and environmental
reasons to work to get rid of the oil-rentier economic model—
remarkable, given that Venezuela is a major oil exporter.12 The
climate justice movement is demanding egalitarian and anticapitalist solutions to the climate crisis. The World Peoples’
Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth,
held in April 2010 in Bolivia, drew tens of thousands of people
from around the world. One of the principal messages of the conference was that the capitalist economic system was the main culprit in causing harm to the environment.
Everywhere, radical, essentially anticapitalist strategies are
emerging, based on other ethics and forms of organization, rather
than the profit motive: eco-villages such as Gaviotas in Colombia;
the new urban transportation systems pioneered in Curitiba in
Brazil and elsewhere; experiments in permaculture; communitysupported agriculture (CSA farms, mentioned above, where people purchase shares in the food that t …
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