Commodity Development and Global Environmental Zoning

Amanda Runnels: I am a senior majoring in Natural Resources Conservation and after graduation in May I will be going to UVA to get my Masters in Elementary Education. I plan to teach during the school year and work in Outdoor Recreation in the Summers. 

Ryan Groene: I am a senior Political Science major, and after graduation I hope to work in the public service sector.

Luke Chapter 7 “Marcuse and the Politics of Radical Ecology” (Ryan Groene)

In Luke, Chapter 7: “Marcuse and the Politics of Radical Ecology”, Luke discusses Marcuse, as Luke describes as a ‘radical ecologist’ whose work was overlooked for years. In most of his work, Marcuse claims that Nature serves as ‘man’s inorganic body’, and he often humanizes Nature to emphasize the importance of respecting the environment’s integrity and order. In Chapter 7, Luke analyzes Marcuse work through the means of society and discusses the negative impact that social institutions have had on Nature, “The radical transformation of nature becomes an integral part of the radical transformations of society.” Breaking down his work, we first see the perspective of “Subjectivity and Productivity” where Marcuse discusses freedoms and the relation to human needs. He states that human needs are preconditioned, and the freedoms that we have are a result from our needs. Humans have “True Needs” and “False Needs,” where “True Needs” are your basic food, shelter, clothing, etc. and “False Needs” are what stems from social interest that result in societal misery and injustice. We then take these ideas and can understand that societies “False Needs” is what truly exploits Nature and creates ecological disaster because of our material existence that allows for, what we see as, a ‘comfortable living’. “Everyday material existence can be quite tolerable, rewarding, and comfortable because it requires deep, long-run, ecological disaster to sustain its shallow, short-run institutional reproduction. False needs become that cause of and excuse for continuing such environmental destruction as everyday life merely vindicates “the freedom to choose”. 

Furthermore, Marcuse also discusses technology and science, and essentially sees these as instruments of society used in a way to create domination, power, and control over Nature and man. “Humanity’s increasing control over the environments of Nature through technological means necessarily results in a greatly increased ability to dominate human nature.” A “New Science”, or a new foundation of the instrument, and a “New Sensibility,” or understanding of these instruments, linked not to domination, but to liberation, can result in a ‘reconstruction of reality’ that would allow for humanity and Nature to become one.

After reading this chapter, it immediately made me think of these “False Needs” that Marcuse discusses. We live in a throw-away society that has a materialistic way of life, we pollute the air everyday when we drive to work, we use paper cups at the water fountain, plastic straws, all sorts of pointless things that simply make our lives ‘more comfortable’. Something that has stuck with me is this video of Oprah visiting a family in India:

We all live in homes (even apartments or dorms at school) ten times bigger than this. We use up so much land and space for comfort, not realizing the environmental impact that we have made. The need for comfort for many is increasing everyday, as our technology is constantly developing, making more people comfortable at the expense of someone else, as many feel they ‘need’ that new iPhone, ‘need’ that new iPad, etc. and it becomes a never ending cycle that will only dig the hole deeper. 

Stubberfield, Chapter 2: Building the Laboratory: Instrumentalizing the Greater Sage-grouse in Wyoming (Amanda/Ryan)

Dr. Stubberfield begins Chapter 2 by introducing the background for how institutions were used in the deterritorialization and reterritorialization of Wyoming in response to the Greater Sage-grouse problem. When the Greater Sage-grouse populations began to decline, it served as a threat to the economy of Wyoming. This chapter discusses the processes that occurred for so-called the protection of the Greater Sage-grouse through the Wyoming Core Area Protection strategy (CAP) which was ultimately a political move to look like a good thing. In 2010 it was suggested for the Greater Sage-grouse population to be added to the Endangered Species list because the population is only 56% of what it was before the expansion of the Western United States and Canada. Despite the population being heavily affected by habitat fragmentation and loss due to human activity, it remained a low priority for the Endangered Species List to the USFWS and was deemed a “candidate species.” 

Although the USFWS did not provide any regulatory control for helping the species, it started a conservation effort with management and regulatory plans to protect the habitat and research the species behavior and living conditions.The CAP rezoned Wyoming’s land according to the GRSG populations by deterritorialization and reterritorialization based on species specific areas. The CAP showed how social environments were used for biopolitics and ultimately how the Endangered Species Act was used by governments as a vessel for other purposes. 

The CAP created relationships within public and private industries with government and non-governmental parties working together. Following this, zones were split between private and public managerial authorities, and new zoning conditions were then placed. These zoning conditions depended on the biological needs of the populations within the area. This new form of managing and controlling created new loopholes to appear as though the species in these areas were being protected, when in fact far more disruptions to the natural habitats were happening within the zones. The instability that this created allowed for an unjust and dangerous expansion where guidelines and rules were taken advantage of for capitalistic purposes. 

Luke, Chapter 11:  “On the Road to Marrakesh: A Politics of Mitigation or Mystification for Global Climate Change?” (Amanda Runnels)

Luke, Chapter 11: “On the Road to Marrakesh: A Politics of Mitigation or Mystification for Global Climate Change?” starts off by discussing the overall opinion that the details of climate change negotiation often lack attention from the public because it is not as captivating as an inauguration in the United States or the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom. Many countries have made pledges to reduce carbon emissions and do their part to lower the world climate by 2050, however there are still many climate change doubters, “clean coal” advocates and industries that rely heavily on fossil fuels. All of these reasons show that the Paris Agreement will be highly contested and difficult to meet its goals. 

Climate change is not something that we can turn a blind eye to. It is important to ensure that all localities are educated and made aware of the problems and negative effects that climate change causes. It is difficult to ignore the melting of all the ice in the Arctic Ocean, the droughts that are occurring in areas that were once very wet regions, sea level rise happening in coastal areas, and the loss of biodiversity that is occurring in nearly every biome on Earth. The ability for countries to make plans to alter these negative impacts of humans on Earth is becoming more and more urgent and important to life on Earth. 

The UN-backed Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro was first held in April 1992 and was responsible for the creation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The negotiations that followed the Earth Summit began playing upon the idea of “common but differentiated responsibility” for countries trying to mitigate climate change. This meant that larger and richer countries were held to high standards of making large cuts to carbon emissions and greatly reducing their impact on climate change, but smaller, less developed countries demanded that they remain able to pollute as much as they desired to attain economic growth. The Kigali Agreement to limit HFC use exemplified this discrepancy between developed and developing countries by directing countries such as the United States, Japan and the European Union to start removing HFC use in 2019. 

Alternatively, it was expected that developing countries would wait to begin until 2024 and the negotiators reasoned that with the large countries acting first, the smaller countries would follow quickly in their footsteps. There are pros and cons to the differentiated policies among countries. Instead of using a one size fits all approach to mitigating climate change, different countries have the ability to develop plans that mesh well with their cultures and ways of life of their country. Oppositely, many of the larger regions are somewhat stuck in their energy-intensive growth such as China in order to achieve economic growth. With this, it is highly likely that their strategies will be slow, make less of an impact, and be mostly unmonitored. 

All of these factors have shown that the targets of the Paris Agreement for only a 2°C increase in temperature will be reached sooner than the original goal of 2100. Continuing business as usual, as many countries have shown that they will continue to do, can lead us to raise the climate temperature 4.5°C. Knowing that prediction, even countries that have put together weak plans for mitigation strategies are better prepared than countries without plans at all.