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Trump’s Mexican Border Wall Would Be an Ecological Disaster

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Trump’s Mexican Border Wall Would Be an Ecological Disaster

US-Mexico Border Wall in San Diego. Image: Bruno Sanchez-Andrade/Flickr

What we build on the border impacts more than just humans.

President Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday pushing ahead one of his signature campaign stumps—the construction of a massive $14-20 billion wall along the 2,000-mile-long border with Mexico, designed to deter illegal immigrants and drugs from entering the United States.

The wall has faced fierce criticisms from human rights groups for the possible humanitarian disaster it could cause (ask Berlin about this). But if built, the wall could pose another threat altogether: ecological disaster.

A barrier would sever animal populations living in the fragile desert ecosystems of the US-Mexico border from food resources, mates, and important migration routes. Such a disruption would deal an irreparable blow to countless species, including extraordinarily rare ones like the Sonoran jaguar and Mexican gray wolf.

Man-made barriers like roads and fences are some of the most devastating types of development to wildlife.

Last Updated on Thursday, 04 May 2017 17:31

What Is Political Ecology?

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What Is Political Ecology?

From Practice to Theory and Strategy

Tatiana Romanova is Associate Professor at the European Studies Department, Saint-Petersburg State University; and Head of Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence, Russia.

Resume: Political ecology is an extremely interesting and promising area of research – both theoretical and applied. However, further probes are required, that would make it possible to move on from the accumulation of empirical data to the required level of theorizing, and also to devise a comprehensive strategy for the state to follow in practice. Delays in this field would keep Russia in a second-rate position in the world for decades to come.

Tags: global climate changes, global economy, ecology

A monograph by Sergei Yakutseni and Andrei Burovsky, entitled Political Ecology (Russ. Ed.), came out of print recently. The book has many weaknesses: too much empiricism, too few theoretical generalizations, the propaganda-like style of presentation lacking sufficient argument, and eclecticism. Yet the authors have identified a new guideline of interdisciplinary research and practice which will increasingly manifest itself in the coming years. This is a link between politics and environmental protection. Burovsky and Yakutseni define political ecology as “part of the history of humankind inherent in the nature of people,” because environmental decisions “have always had their immediate and long-term political consequences.”

Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 December 2016 08:57

China turns to ecology in search of ‘civilisation’

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China turns to ecology in search of ‘civilisation’

BY James Oswald
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From obscure origins, China’s ecological civilisation model has grown into an international movement

In 2007, then Premier Hu Jintao announced that China would become an ‘ecological civilisation’, eschewing the previous development model that had seen economic growth take priority over environmental health.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has a history of using the concept of civilisation, or wenming, as part of its moralistic methods of governance: material civilisation, spiritual civilisation, and political civilisation have all been invoked.

In the Deng era, material civilisation set an ideal material standard of living and spiritual civilisation guided the moral decisions of these Chinese nouveau riche. Later, Jiang Zemin introduced political civilisation that focused on regulation, law, governance and institution-building.  This Chinese notion of civilisation is best understood as a process, of ‘becoming civilised,’ rather than the Western conception of civilisation that has its roots in the notion of the city.

Though these civilising discourses are a response to real or perceived problems arising from China’s development and incorporation into the global market economy, they differ from ecological civilisation in an important way. The previous civilisations are inward-looking attempts by the CCP to address issues arising from its development and modernisation. Ecological civilisation, in contrast, has international implications— after all, the present environmental crisis, while it may see a particularly severe expression in mainland China, is international in nature and its causes and manifestations are global.

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‘Promote ecological civilisation, build a beautiful China’. From the Central Propaganda Department’s magazine, Current Affairs

Ecological civilisation is distinct from its predecessors in another important way—it arose from an already existing academic debate, with Chinese academics developing the idea after reading about it in a Russian article from 1984.

The original publication describes ecological civilisation as a system that synthesises concepts from social science (in the Marxist-Leninist tradition) with ecological studies, so as to mitigate the negative effects that development has on the environment, and to advocate the frugal use of resources to promote ‘harmonious development.’  A summary of this original publication appeared in the Guangming Daily in 1985. The idea caught the attention of Liu Zongchao, then a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and inspired him to begin writing on the topic.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 30 November 2016 23:11

A Marxist Ecological Vision

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A Marxist Ecological Vision

— Nicholas Davenport

[The following article is adapted from a presentation at the Solidarity summer school in August 2012. Nicholas Davenport is a member of the newly formed Ecosocialism Working Group of Solidarity. The editors of Against the Current view this contribution as part of an urgently needed discussion.

The questions facing environmental activists, and socialists in particular, range from the sheer scale of the environmental disasters already underway to the problems of beginning a transition from a system organized around massive consumption of fossil fuels, vast megacities and global agribusiness.

In the process of doing so, how will an ecosocialist movement and society address the crisis of global inequality and the need to “develop the productive forces” without pushing the planet and human civilization over the environmental cliff? We look forward to explorations of these questions from a variety of angles and viewpoints. — David Finkel, for the ATC editors]

THE ECOLOGICAL CRISIS presents the starkest possible example of both the necessity of and opportunity for revolutionary change. Nothing but a radical transformation of basic social relations can prevent the worst possible outcomes of the crisis. In spite of its overwhelming and frightening magnitude, the ecological crisis presents a moment to revitalize the world revolutionary movement.

Last Updated on Monday, 28 November 2016 22:58

Climate and Democracy

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Peter Burnell

Climate and democracyThe science of climate change and human responsibility, the economics of addressing the problem, the justice dimension and, even, implications for North-South relations have all received substantial exposure in public debate and specialized technical, policy, and academic literatures. We also hear about the imperative to “climate-proof” society, the poor, and even the state. Occasionally we are told the “right political framework” is needed, usually meaning an improvement on the Kyoto Protocol and national legislation for regulating energy use.

A surprising omission is a balanced inquiry into what climate change and its effects mean for democratization, and what democratization could mean for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and climate adaptation. Democratization here means movement toward something like actually existing liberal democracy, present in many countries, not theoretical models of deliberative democracy, radical participatory democracy, or “eco-democracy”. Just as global warming has become headline news, so another but more celebrated phenomenon of recent times has been a wave of democratization, starting in southern Europe in the 1970s, subsequently embracing Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe, and sizeable parts of Africa and Asia, too. Hardly less eye-catching, however, is the wave’s recent slowing to a halt and, by some accounts, partial retreat.

Last Updated on Sunday, 16 October 2011 19:09
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