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     A potpourri of 'eco-la-la'

Vagueness, ambiguity and controversy
"We should avoid the temptation to divide the world neatly into an ecocentric camp of environmentalists and a technocentric camp of manipulative professionals and administrators. In real life the boundaries are much more blurred". 8

One problem is that too many ideas and philosophies, derived from a diverse range of philosophical and ideological sources, more or less ambiguous or vague at times, have been developed in the 20th century, relating to environmental issues and the human rights, as the problems have been
steadily multiplying on one hand, and the possibility to speak out has expanded on the other hand, and an environmental consciousness is increasing.

Environmental controversy
Conservationists claim that humans can improve the world, arcadians that man is part of nature, sacramentalists that capitalism is toxic to the planet, technocentrics that man is clever enough to finally control things, ecocentrists that human action must be constrained, deep ecologists set a philosophical basis of truly green practices then come the bioregionalists, the eco-anarchists, the eco-feminists, the eco-pacifists, the collectivists, the mutualists, etc and it all ends up to a potpourri of 'eco-la-la' that our grandchildren will have to memorise as 'century tendencies' like pragmatism, existentialism, leninism, dadaism and other -isms.

This multitude of sometimes controversial ideas is often criticised as a diffuse and incoherent set of unrelated notions (coming from 'all over the place'). R. Storm calls it 'a spiritual hotch-potch of theories and esoteric snipets', a vast umbrella movement embracing countless groups, gurus and individuals. Worse, some supporters are charged as na´ve, reactionary, idealistic, if not simple-minded. Indeed, a novice reader may get confused right from the start, at the definition level, e.g. there is even controversy among ecophilosophers as to what nature is (only wilderness is authentically natural, some say), so one may wonder: 'Is my little bio garden a part of nature or must I go live in the jungle'.

Now, given the deep ecologist reasoning that 'when enough individuals have elected to change, all of society will change', according to the 'global consciousness' approach featuring strongly in New Ageism (an extension of deep ecology), is this novice reader asked to wait another century for the change to come when it is supposed to have been achieved yesterday? The 'Do Little' philosophy defines the green movement, many conservationists believe, and 'less is more', some say, and it seems that there is a 'slow process of debate and convergence' within the new political theory of ecologism, but is our western society of greedy pleasuremongers, that are firstly responsible for the environmental degradation, ready to give up habits and material 'goods' on the way to sustainability?

"We sit at breakfast, we sit on the train on the way to work, we sit at work, we sit at lunch, we sit all afternoon, a hodgepodge of sagging livers, sinking gall bladders, drooping stomachs, compressed intestines, and squashed pelvic organs"                  (John Button, Jr)

Much of the industrial emissions of China and India are associated with the manufacture of stuff for rich countries. Who has a special responsibility to do something? That's an ethical question. But I find it hard to imagine any system of ethics that denies that the responsibility falls especially on the countries whose emissions are two, three, or four times the world average. Countries that are most able to pay. Countries like Britain and the USA, for example. 9

Commenting on the Copenhagen fiasco, Greenpeace International Executive Director, Kumi Naidoo, said: "Civil society, the bulk of which was locked out of the final days of this Climate Summit, now needs to redouble its efforts. Each and every one of us must hold our leaders to account. We must take the struggle to avert climate catastrophe into every level of politics, local, regional, national and international. We also need to take it into the board room and onto the high streets". 10

Tony Blair said that sustainable living will probably never become the central driver of a person's daily decision-making. Obviously there is not only difficulty in confronting the forces in society which resist change willingly or unwillingly, but primarily those of the state and institutionalised capitalism that are reluctant to take the necessary steps towards sustainability and sustainable development.

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8 T. O'Riordan, Environmentalism, 2nd revised edition, (Pion Books, London, 1981), p. 1
9 D. Mac Kay, Sustainable Energy - without the hot air. UIT Cambridge, 2009, p 14
10 Greenpeace Copenhagen Outcome Assessment. 19Dec09 (http://www.greenpeace.org/raw/content/international/press/reports/cop15-assessment.pdf)

       





















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