The Green Governmentality of Technology

What is Green Governance:?

Green governance is a statist practice existing since the 18th century (Darier, 121). State power becomes dangerous when it is so heavily involved because of the position of control it has over the environment. Geo-economics is highly critiqued under Green Governance due to the government manipulation that it complements. Geo-economics is essentially the economic concerns within national security, but according to former Vice President Al Gore, it produces a “dysfunctional civilization” and predatorial and nationalistic means of achieving national goals. And the very core of geo-economics is the State support for major corporations instead of regulated government policy that is beneficial to all (Darier, 124).

In addition to geo-economics, there is also eco-knowledge. Eco-knowledge describes that nature and humanity are inseparable (Darier, 137). This means that there isn’t a nature without humanity, and humanity couldn’t survive without nature. This knowledge introduces a different perspective on what many people think of when they think of the term ‘sustainability’. Instead of thinking about the environment first, governments should prioritize human basic needs. To become sustainable, we must become economically developed in order to avoid ecological disasters (Darier, 137). Thus, focusing on the societal and economic dimensions of sustainability will improve the environmental dimension, as well.

Another facet of green governance is enviro-discipline. Enviro-discipline proposes that unsustainable environments need to be disassembled then recombined by expert managers to reap mass benefits from multiple aspects (Darier, 142). This would allow for a better stance on sustainability in the form of better management of ecosystem services. Ecosystem services include natural resources, products, and functions derived from nature that are valuable to humans (Darier, 146). Green governmentality is utilized to protect ecosystem services through actions of monitoring and management (Darier, 147).

What is the relationship between governmentality and technology?

Certain technologies can propose power in a nation (Death, 272). We see this with developed nations that have advanced scientific findings and capabilities. There is always a possibility that the world can end via nuclear bombing because many countries now have the knowledge and technology to produce this kind of destruction. This example leads to the point that technology is used at the government’s discretion. “Who defines, controls, owns and creates technology, in turn, directs what is produced and consumed in economies and societies (Death, 273).” This concept could also be applied in modern pandemic times. If there is a reliable vaccination or medical breakthrough for COVID-19, governments can determine how to utilize this technology to benefit their economies or societies.

What is the relationship between technology and the environment?

Technology and the environment are usually looked at as polar opposites, one is society and the other is nature. When recognizing how broad the definition of environment truly is, you start to realize how technology is becoming its own environment and how they can even at times be interchangeable (Luke, 270). This concept of technology as an environment was the result of human civilization creating and engineering their lives, and we merged the two together (Luke, 270). It is not simple to draw a line between trees and machines anymore, there is overlap in all things. Now, environments can be portrayed through technology and technology can help navigate and manage the environment. The environment and technology can be beneficial to one another, but also are frequently working against each other. Technology represents a modern society and economy, and there is a constant battle between whether the economy or environment should hold more value.

How is our environmentality being compromised through the power plays of politics and economics?

Anthropogenic changes such as extracting resources and creating waste are fueled by economics and capitalism. These anthropogenic changes confuse technology (or man-made items) with what is truly natural (Death, 270). Economic growth causes environmental friction, this can be seen with ‘failed states’ such as Rwanda, Somalia, and Angola (Darier, 122). The economy pivots the priorities of humanity towards technology and material benefits rather than nature.

Natural resources are seen as a power in the global market. A country could be more powerful if it has access to resources in which it can sell and commodify in the market (Darier, 125). The fallacy with that, however, is that countries and nations with access to resources must know how to utilize and market these resources with strategy and policy. For instance, in America, we protect natural resources in the form of departments, agencies, and organizations to avoid exploitation and degradation of the environment. These protections are carried out through environmental policies and laws, thus why America is looked to for reliable leadership (Darier, 127). In developing countries, there is often a lack of reliable leadership, which can deplete and exploit the environment.

While developed nations are often looked to for reliable leadership, these same nations are also responsible for mass consumption. Due to living in a society with materialistic values, overconsumption can be seen frequently in developed countries. From the Al Gore perspective, we are losing connections with our everyday world which creates loneliness, and this is what causes us to rely on consuming material goods. This overconsumptive way of living is degrading the environment, Luke discusses green governmentality through the lens of food production. Industrial agriculture systems are centered around “mining” not “minding” the earth’s resources (Luke, 191). This “mining” method provides mass provision but is harmful to the earth’s ecology because it is so exploitive. A potential solution in regards to industrial agriculture systems is a community garden similar to the Virginia Cooperative Extension; these gardens help consumers save money while saving and renewing their environment (Luke, 186). Not only do these gardens provide healthy food for its visitors it also provides a sense of community, allowing people to feel less lonely and rely less on material goods (Luke, 193).

Bios:

Kourtney Phillips

            Kourtney Phillips is a junior studying International Public Policy & National Security and Foreign Affairs with double minors in Spanish and Arabic. She is from Leesburg, VA, and has a passion for human rights and civil justice issues in which she is hoping to turn those interests into a career as an immigration lawyer in the future.

Lexi Schnell

            Lexi Schnell is a junior studying Environmental Resource Management with a double minor in Ecological Cities and Forestry. She was born and raised in New Jersey but decided to go to Virginia for college. She enjoys photography, live music, hiking, and cooking.

Susan Schulz

            Susan Schulz is a senior studying Environmental Conservation & Society. Raised in the rural landscape of Southwest Virginia, she has an interest in sustainable agriculture and farming practices. She enjoys hiking, kayaking, and gardening.

Hannah Siebert

            Hannah Siebert is a junior studying Natural Resources Conservation. She has lived in Fairfax, VA for her entire life, exploring the life found in its suburban forests. Her passions lie in outreach and education.

Dr. Stubberfield recaps the course discussion and provides further context for the intersection of technology and green governmentality.