Geography discuss the themes developed in both lectures ie science knowledge inequality and environmental pollution

Lecture 1 Notes

” Environmental policy is a set of principles & intentions used to guide decision-making about human management of environmental capital and environmental services (Jane Roberts)
” Environmental politics  the struggle to negotiate between competing interests in determining environmental conditions & existence (Croall & Rankin)

Functions of the environment
” Environment as dwelling place / living space / aesthetic / spiritual realm
” Environment as supply depot: resources less a substance than a function. The principle of substitution. Evolution of energy fuels: wood, coal, oil, gas, hydrogen fuel cell, renewable energy resources.
” Environment as sink: repository for wastes; local Ä global consequences

Growing inequality
” 1960: richest 20% countries controlled 70% of world income
” 2000: richest 20% of countries control 85% of world income
” The estimated worth of the 11 richest individuals (c. $217bn) > combined GDP of the 49 least developed countries
” Resource consumption implications

See also
Figure 1: Here & Now, Later & Elsewhere

Sharon Beder Economy and Environment: Competitors or Partners? (attached)

Economy and Environment:
Competitors or Partners?
Sharon Beder


Sharon Beder,  Economy and environment: competitors or partners? , Pacific Ecologist 3, Spring 2002, pp. 50-56.
This is a final version submitted for publication. Minor editorial changes may have subsequently been made.


SHARON BEDER argues that the market cannot resolve environmental problems and that there is a need to find a solution that embraces the ethical dimension of environmental protection in the sustainable development debate.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, a powerful social movement emerged in affluent countries arguing that economic growth caused environmental decline and could not be sustained forever. One of the most famous of the thousands of studies written on this issue was the book, The Limits to Growth, published in 1972 by Meadows and a team of scientists, environmentalists, economists and industrialists at the USAs Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It used a computer model of the world economy to show that the existing population and economic activity growth rates could not continue indefinitely on a planet that had limited resources and limited ability to deal with pollution.
But critics argued that even if notional limits were identifiable they could be extended through scientific and technological innovation and that economic growth was necessary to finance and motivate such innovation. The focus of early limits to growth writings on the depletion of resources such as oil and minerals, left them particularly open to this criticism and the lack of global shortages in subsequent years served more than anything else to discredit their arguments.
However, the limits to growth advocates also neglected to consider the social implications of no-growth policies and the social imperatives behind economic growth. Economic growth provided increasing living standards for many people in affluent countries and it was seen to be necessary to provide similar benefits for the remaining poor in those countries and for the populations of developing nations. Those who argued for limits to growth were accused of being elitist and of emphasising the environment at the expense of the quality of human life. Many did not differentiate between economic growth in affluent countries and economic growth in developing countries. Nor did they recognise that population growth in affluent countries could be far more environmentally damaging than population growth in poorer countries where resource use per person was low.
Sustainable development seeks to make the competing goals of economic growth and environmental protection compatible. Is this possible? And does it represent an eclipse of the ethical and political dimensions of environmental problems by economic interests and priorities?
Sustainability in the 1980s: Partners?
The renewed interest in sustainability in the 1980s moved away from the original conception that economic growth cannot be sustainable to a new formulation which seeks to find ways of making it so. The limits-to-growth model has been replaced with the sustainable development model, and the gloom and doom scenario has been replaced with win-win solutions.
The changed use of the term sustainability in itself indicates the differences between this wave of environmentalism and the earlier one. Earlier environmentalists had used the term to refer to systems in equilibrium: They argued that exponential growth was not sustainable, in the sense that it could not be continued forever because the planet was finite and there were limits to growth. In contrast, sustainable development seeks ways to make economic growth sustainable, mainly through technological change.
In 1982, the British Government began using the term sustainability to refer to sustainable economic expansion rather than the sustainable use of resources. In the mid-1980s the World Commission on Environment and Development popularised the term sustainable development in its Brundtland Report (1990). The Commission defined sustainable development as: Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. In October 1987, the goal of sustainable development was largely accepted by the governments of 100 nations and approved by the UN General Assembly.
Sustainable development recognises that economic growth can harm the environment but argues that it does not need to. This new formulation of the term sustainability still offends more radical environmentalists, such as Mohamed Idris :
The term sustainable from the ecological point of view means the maintenance of the integrity of the ecology. It means a harmonious relation between humanity and nature, that is, harmony in the interaction between individual human beings and in their interaction with natural resources.
The term sustainable from the point of view of non-ecological elites means how to continue to sustain the supply of raw materials when the existing sources of raw materials run out. (1990, p. 16)
However, for more conservative environmentalists and for economists, politicians, business people and others, the concept of sustainable development offers the opportunity to overcome previous differences and conflicts, and to work together towards achieving common goals rather than confronting each other over whether economic growth should be encouraged or discouraged.
The Supposed Ethics of Economic Growth
One of the most pressing arguments for continued economic growth, is that it is necessary to meet the needs of poor people. Jim MacNeill, the secretary-general to the Brundtland Commission, argues that:
The most urgent imperative of the next few decades is further rapid growth. A fivefold to tenfold increase in economic activity would be required over the next 50 years in order to meet the needs and aspirations of a burgeoning world population, as well as to begin to reduce mass poverty. If such poverty is not reduced significantly and soon, there really is no way to stop the accelerating decline in the planets stocks of basic capital: its forests, soils, species, fisheries, waters and atmosphere. (1989, p. 106)
The Brundtland Report also argued that economic growth was necessary for poorer nations to meet their needs but used this argument to support economic growth in all nations. This argument is based on the idea that if the whole pie were bigger then each persons share would be larger and even the smallest portions would be adequate to meet a persons needs. The need for a growing pie av