Peter Dauvergne on environmentalism as a social movement


in Books and literature, Canada, Economics, Language, PhD thesis, Politics, The environment, Writing

Saying mainstream environmentalism now reflects the interests and concerns of the rich is like coming upon a river of spawning salmon and noting the colour red. There are naturally many shades of difference. Not all of the mainstream, everywhere, has to the same extent come to embrace markets, corporations, and technologies as solutions. Nor does everyone have equal faith in the value of economic growth, CSR, and eco-consumerism as ways to move toward global sustainability. And nor is everyone equally pragmatic, calling for “evolution not revolution.” Environmentalism will always be a “movement of movements,” with a great diversity of values and visions surfacing out of a turbulent sea of informal groupings and formal organizations. Environmentalists share a commitment to try to protect the environment, yet sharp differences even exist in the understanding of the word “environment,” from those who mean nature (wildlife and ecosystems) to those who really mean living spaces for humans (cities, towns, parks, and beaches).7 (p. 6-7)

7. The phrase “movement of movements” is more often used to describe the global resistance to capitalism and globalization than to characterize global environmentalism. I use the phrase, however, to emphasize the diversity of environmentalism, which itself overlaps with movements against capitalism and globalization (and for global justice). For a discussion of this phrase in relation to anti-globalization activism and alter-globalization campaigns (offering social justice alternatives to globalization), see Tom Mertes, ed. A Movement of Movements: Is Another World Really Possible (Verso, 2004). For a sense of the great diversity of environmentalism, see Further Readings, “Environmental Activism (“insider” critiques of),” “Environmental Discourses and Movements (varieties of),” “Environmental Justice Movements,” “Environmental NGOs and Transnational Networks,” “Environmentalism (developing countries),” “Environmentalism (overviews) and “Voluntary Simplicity, Localization, and Eco-Villages.” (p. 154-5)

Dauvergne, Peter. Environmentalism of the Rich. MIT Press; Cambridge. 2016.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Oleh February 19, 2017 at 3:24 am

An interesting quote. Obviously difficult to try to describe a term or movement as wide as environmentalism.

I follow how environmentalism as a general movement can be against capitalism. But I wonder about being against globalization. It is only with global awareness so we understand the global impact of climate change.

alena February 19, 2017 at 11:06 am

I think that globalization is largely about neo-liberal economic policies and hence it is most detrimental to the health of the planet. It is about greater profits, cheaper labor and extraction. The positive connotations of globalization seem to be fewer each day in my mind.

anon February 19, 2017 at 3:49 pm

We can distinguish between economic and political globalization, as well as between neoliberal and a potential social-democratic globalization. Klein’s critique of extractivism highlights how globalization driven by corporate interests and focused on economic development regardless of the consequences for labour and the environment has been a harmful process, which has spawned a growing backlash since at least the anti-WTO movement in 1999.

anon February 19, 2017 at 3:50 pm

Re: environmentalism (or anti-globalization) as a “movement of movements”

This may explain a lot about the weakness of both in changing the policy agenda. If participants are oftentimes working as much against each other as they are for a cohesive policy agenda, that makes it easy for corporate actors and their supporters to influence or even control policy-makers.

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