Politics and Ecological Sustainability Article

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Politics & Ecological Sustainability

The relationship between politics and ecological sustainability has involved an inverse power struggle between political leaders whom seek to enable corporate success and the ecologists whom fear the poisoning of the earth and other forms of ecological damage. Ostensibly, this relationship is facilitated and watched within the auspices of Greening Environmental Policy, (Litfin, 1996). According to Litfin (1996), "Greening Environmental Policy grapples with sustainability beyond narrow economist and technical parameters to which it is often confined, thus the term greening, which entails participatory politics as much as ecological sustainability." (Litfin, 1996)

Greening Environmental Policy describes the link between participatory political debates to that of ecological sustainability. Certainly, however, such policy is destined to be a misleading representation of the true effect of political leanings and their contribution to ecological instability rather sustainability.

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For example, according to Livesey (2002), "Greenpeace's opposition to Shell's British government approved plan to dumb the Brent Spar, a huge decommissioned oil buoy in the North Atlantic (Lawrence, 1999b; Livesey, 2001; Mirvis, 2000). Then, just months after the Spar controversy, Shell was criticized for its failure to intervene forcefully and publicly when the Nigerian military regime of Sani Abacha executed eight environmental activists from the Ogoni tribe. The Ogoni had vociferously opposed Shell, arguing that the tribe had been economically exploited and politically repressed and that the ecological and social effects of oil exploration and production had devastated the Niger Delta (Lawrence, 1999a). (Livesey, 2002)

Article on Politics and Ecological Sustainability Assignment

The implication is politics is an enemy to ecological sustainability. However, this is not entirely true. Recent developments in corporate management of fortune 500 corporations has enabled the movement toward sustainable practices that include greater emphasis on ecological stewardship. Such a movement is due to the overwhelming pressure of environmental lawyers, economists, and environmental lobbyists that have demanded politicians to take drastic action to conduce and lawmakers to produce legislation that will prevent further degradation of ecologic conditions.

The collective effort of these individuals and organizations has yielded ecological improvement and assisted to pave a path to sustainability. According to Karliner (1999), "Certainly, it is important to recognize that various initiatives have in fact resolved, reduced or displaced a number of ecological problems. The air is cleaner in some places than it was 30 years ago; some water is more drinkable." (Karliner, 1999)

Such effort ostensibly facilitated improvement to ecological conditions, there is further evidence that egregious environmental problems are occurring throughout the world and is essentially anti-sustainability in its outcomes. According to Karliner (1999), "Overwhelming evidence points to a multitude of serious, corporate-generated environmental problems that continue to expand throughout the world in tandem with economic globalization, threatening the sustainability of both local and global ecosystems, and therefore the well-being of human populations -- especially the poor." (Karliner, 1999)

The threats to ecological sustainability from corporate activity are not unbeknownst to the political leadership. Indeed, political leaders are aware of ecological degradation as evidenced through scientific study of soil and water pollution levels and a correlation with the business activity in the area and the waste of that material used by corporate entities leaked into the soil and water table.

According to Karliner (1999), "Already corporate expansion move into farmlands, deserts, oceans and river-systems they previously ignored. Already poor, but largely self-sufficient, many communities across the Earth are being cast into deeper social and ecological poverty, as well as cultural dislocation, as their resources are appropriated for the seemingly insatiable demands of the world's ever-growing consumer societies." (Karliner, 1999)

To go further, environmental stewardship is symbiotic with the notion of sustainability practices. According to Ageyman & Warner (2002), "We suggest that environmental justice be seen as mutually inclusive with the principles of sustainability, a discourse which, despite its popularization by the World Commission of Environmental (WCED, 1987), the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED, 1992), the President's Council on Sustainable Development (PCSD, 1996) and the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD, 2002), has much greater currency outside of the United States." (Ageyman, Warner, 2002)

Yet the ability for sustainability practices to meet the level of anticipation regarding the benefits received from ecological stewardship is still restricted somewhat by political and ecologic trade-offs. According to Ageyman & Warner (2002), "Despite the rapid rise of environmental justice and sustainability as public policy concerns, there are large gaps between the principles of both, and their implementation in practice. Even as policy makers, scholars, advocates and activists work to specifically define and evaluate environmental justice practice, it is also important to appreciate the true scope of how public policy distributes environmental costs and benefits along racial, economic and social cleavages." (Ageyman, Warner, 2002)

The politics of today must trek beyond the conventional partisan politics that yields corporate indifference to pollution and facilitation of en ecological sustainable illusion. Ecological stewardship must thus become engrained into the fabric of the societal belief system where the operations inherent to the Earth supersede profits and investor relations demands of the company. According to Ageyman & Warner (2002), "Leading environmental justice scholar and activist, Bullard (1996: p. 493) has argued that environmental justice must go "beyond the toxics" to include "the principle that all people and communities are entitled to equal protection of environmental and public health regulations." (Ageyman, Warner, 2002)

The notion that policy must address human nature as the motivating factor toward facilitating sustainability, rather than a blank policy that ostensibly restricts activity and the use of metals or chemicals that will promote ecological instability. In other parts of the world, there is tension to address environmental sustainability principles. According to Pepper (1999), "In peripheral parts of Europe such as the West of Ireland, where environment-development tensions may be particularly sensitive, environmental sustainability principles need to be integrated into all policy and program areas, as the Fifth Environmental Action program requires." (Pepper, 1999)

Europe has set on a progressive political path toward establishing a more centric approach to addressing their sustainability issue. The approach is not apolitical in nature however, it does not focus on political policy as the means to the ends. The framework is the sociological decision-making of the corporate executives that make the decision to dump chemicals that affect the ecology or conduct other business in a manner that has a negative impact on the overall ecological health.

According to Roo (2000), "To attain a sustainable society, the editors argue that the changing European institutional context must accept and internalize the principles of sustainability. Social equity and civic action are popular issues in the UK and the U.S., far more than in continental Europe. In mainland Europe centralized policy structures are at least as important in understanding the processes that support environmental protection and sustainability." (Roo, 2000)

The argument is that policy structures are to be considered as having at least the same importance as the underlying comprehension of what drives one to protect the environment and to sustain its health for generations. Mainland Europe is more progressive with internal reasoning and its ability to generate a holistic view at sustainability rather than to rely on social activism or grassroots politics from concerned groups that have a vested interest to maintain the ecological health of their region. Such individuals are not driven by corporate profits, which seek to undermine the overall ecological health due to cost prohibitive ecological protection measures.

Additionally, a report entitled the Brundtland Report (Keong, 2005) sought to define what sustainable development is in terms that are compatible with real change and a notion to facilitate ecological stewardship and sustainability. According to Keong, (2005), "The notion of sustainable development is defined by the World Commission on Environment and Development (the Brundtland Report) as "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their own needs." (1987, 43). It also asserts the need to observe the ethical principle of intergenerational justice in terms of efficient allocation of natural resources so that the welfare of future generations will not be worse off than the present generation." (Keong, 2005)

The island nation of Malta is especially prone to ecological issues given its relatively small land mass. According to Camilleri (2004), "This suggests that knowledge, politics and agency are intricately bound together in environmental issues in Malta, as elsewhere (Flyvbjerg, 1998; MacNaughten and Urry 1998). I have noted the apparent contradiction between lack of environmental initiatives displayed by Maltese citizens and their high levels of awareness of problems and solutions." (Camilleri, 2004)

These aforementioned implications regarding politics and ecological sustainability are important for Malta's future. According to Camilleri (2004), "The issues here, the research suggests, are twofold -- first, respondents also often asked me what difference their voices would make when the cause of one of the main environmental problems of Malta, perceived to be building development, is actively promoted by government (Malta Independent, 1999)." (Camilleri, 2004)

The lack of a voice may be a function of Western thought. According to Patterson (2003), "Claims are commonly made that Western thought either… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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