I read the books below more than a year ago, in August and September 2016. All books concern the intersection of ecology, sustainability and politics. There are a lot of quotes from these books further below (about 125 in total!) and the quotes are represented by the number of asterisks right below. Here's the previous blog post about books I have read.
*************************** Andrew Dobson's Green Political Thought is a classic. The first edition came out in 1990 and I actually read it when I was an undergraduate student. I remember I thought it was great and felt the book merited a re-reading and then actually went out and bought the most recent, fourth edition of the book (2007). So I invested money in buying "the same" book one more time and my expectations were obviously very high. While the book was good, it wasn't as good as I expected it to be. Perhaps it was hard for the actual book to beat my memory of the book? Or perhaps the fourth edition wasn't as good as the first edition? That might actually be the case but it's not as if I have compared the different editions despite the fact that I sit with both these books in front of me as I write this.
Dobson's book treat ecologism as an ideology and analyses where it comes from, what it stands for and compares it to other political ideologies. From the back cover of the first edition, it says:
"Green political thought provides a clear and stimulating explanation of the ideas, aims and strategies of the Green movement. ... as more individuals and organizations have climbed aboard the Green bandwagon, the central ideas of green politics have become obscured. Andrew Dobson has remedied the situation with this highly accessible introduction. ... This book will be of interest to anyone either inside or outside the Green movement who is concerned to understand better the ideas behind Green politics."
On the back cover of the fourth edition (published 17 years later), it says:
"This highly acclaimed introduction to green political thought is now availaine in a new edition, having been fully revised and updated to take into account the areas which have grown in importance since the third edition was published. ... Green policitical thought remains the starting point for all students, academics and activists who want an introduction to green political theory."
As I belatedly look up info about the pamphlet, I find an interesting text by ex-Green party leader (spokesperson) Birger Schlaug from 2014 where he talks not about the pamphlet abut about the Green party's crisis back in 2002 that they solved by throwing important parts of the green ideology overboard.
******************************************** This book, "What Next Volume III: Climate, Development and Equity" was pressed into my hand at an event and I know exactly where that event was held but have a harder time remembering exactly what the event was. After having racked my brain, I have come to the conclusion that it was Naturskyddsföreningen's [The Swedish Society for Nature Conservation, SSNC] 2012 autumn conference. It's a little hard to know what it means but the book is "co-published" by Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation and the What Next Forum. It was published in 2012 and it is edited by Niclas Hällström (Director of What Next Forum). The book can anyway be downloaded online for free.
This book consists of 20+ chapters and while some really were very good, others did not attain the same quality. One thing that was interesting though was that it had quite a few chapters written by people from non-Western countries (China, India, South America and elsewhere). But some texts went a little too deep (required specialist knowledge to appreciate or even to understand). I'd say this is one of those books that isn't necessarily a great read, but it's a good book to have read. From the back cover:
"This What Next Volume presents voices from across the North and South, addressing the combined challenges of climate, development and equity. it highlights the urgency of taking action, but also shows why any attempt to tackle climate change must be grounded in equity. how will humanity fairly divide the rapidly diminishing global carbon budget, while allowing billions of people in the global South (and North) the means for economic, social and environmental well-being?"
***************** Paul Robbins' "Political ecology" was first published in 2004 and the second edition is from 2012. It's supposed to be a modern classic and I heard it being referred to repeatedly when I attended the "Undisciplined Environments" conference the better part of two years ago. I was intrigued enough to feel I should read up and this was the one book I bought.
This book is an introduction to "political ecology" - "a field that seeks to unravel the political forces at work in environmental access, management, and transformation". The sworn enemy is "apolitical ecology" - like "Limits to Growth" and "crude Malthusianism". I'm not sure how I feel about that and I furthermore find this quote (especially the part I made bold) patently absurd:
"Even if petroleum becomes scarce, the rising price per barrel will encourage the use of otherwise expensive alternatives like wind and solar power, or simply cause consumers to drive less, endlessly stretching the world's energy supply. While such optimistic prognoses are themselves fraught with problems, they do point to an important and increasingly well-accepted truism: resources are constructed rather than given."
But much else is indeed interesting even though it was a quite heavy read, it did broaden my views about the political dimensions of many environmental problems. Still, the conference was a bit weird. Some things which are problematic could not be brought up because the story didn't fit the preferred exceedingly politically informed (PC) narrative that was more or less mandated.
*********************************** While I had seen this book before, the decision to actually buy it came to me at the same conference that made me buy Robbins' book (above). I listened to a panel of sorts about the book and at least one of the editors, Giorgios Kallis, was there. As it so turns out, I will visit him hand his research group at the Autonomous University (UAB) in Barcelona this coming spring. The book "Degrowth: A vocabulary for a new era" (2015) is edited by Giacomo D'Alisa (research fellow at UAB), Federico Demaria (PhD candidate at UAB) and Giorgios Kallis (Professor at UAB).
The book consists of no less than 51 super-short chapters that each centers on a specific term ("anti-utilitarianism", "societal metabolism", "conviviality", "emergy", "disobediance", "public money"). Each chapter is only two or three pages long and has a very limited number of references (three to five). Most chapters have single authors, only about 10 chapters are written by two or more authors. The book consists of four parts ("lines of thought", "the core", "the action", "alliances") and the entries within each part of the book is in fact organized alphatetically (e.g. "Conviviality" is published just before "Dematerialization"). So reading the book is a little like reading an encyclopedia - this is definitely not something you sit down with and read from beginning to the end. It is however something that works excellently as a starting point for various concepts and ideas that you might want to further explore.
One thing that is fun is that I have since physically met some of the authors of some of the book chapters; I met Sylvia Lorek at the workshop on Solutions for Economics, Environment and Democracy I attended in Germany back in October, I recently "met" Filka Sekulova over a special session proposal to the upcoming August 2018 Degrowth conference and recognize other names from distribution lists I now subscribe to and as authors of books I have read over the last 10 years (Tim Jackson, Chris Carlsson, Juliet Schor). A non-unsubstantial part of the chapter authors are in Barcelona and I expect to meet them face to face during the coming weeks and months. I will in fact probably bring this book with me when I go to Barcelona a few weeks from now. From the back cover:
"Degrowth is a rejection of the illusion of growth and a call to repoliticize the public debate colonized by the idiom of economism. It is a project advocating the democratically-led shrinking of production and consumption with the aim of achieving social justice and ecological sustainability.
This overview of degrowth offers a comprehensive coverage of the main topics and major challenges of degrowth in a succinct, simple and accessible manner. In addition, it offers a set of keywords useful forintervening in current political debates and for bringing about concrete degrowth-inspired proposals at different levels - local, national and global.
The result is the most comprehensive coverage of the topic of degrowth in English and serves as the definitive international reference."
On ecologism vs environmentalism:
"This is a book about 'ecologism' ... I shall be distinguishing between *ecologism* and its more visible cousin *environmentalism*. This book is about the former, not the latter and the the following may be taken as a rough-and-ready distinction between the two:
- *environmentalism* argues for a managerial approach to environmental problems secure in the belief that they can be solved without fundamental changes in present values or patterns of production and consumption;
- *ecologism* holds that a sustainable and fulfilling existence presupposes radical changes in our relationship with the non-human natural world, and in our mode of social and political life.
Dobson, A. (2007). Green political thought, p.2-3.
On ecologism as an ideology:
"I shall argue that environmentalist and ecologism need to be kept apart because they differ not only in degree but also in kind. ... crucially, environmentalism is not an ideology at all. ... ecologism will suggest that climate change is not simply a result of inappropriate technologies for energy production, but rather rather that it is symptomatic of a misreading of the possibilities (or more properly here, constraints) inherent in membership of an interrelated biotic and abiotic community. My point is that while ideologies will disagree over analysis and prescriptions, they will always couch them in terms of fundamental 'truths' about the human condition. On this score, ecologism counts a political ideology while environmentalism does not."
Dobson, A. (2007). Green political thought, p.3-4.
On what constitutes a green ideology:
"each ideology has key tenets, myths and so on that distinguish it from other ideologies, and part of my task will be to outline what these are for ecologism - tenets that distinguish it form other ideologies ... Real-life political ecolgists may not subscribe to the totality of the ideas that are describe and analysed here, but they will draw from the well of inspiration they provide."
Dobson, A. (2007). Green political thought, p.4.
On ecologism as a challenge to the Enlightenment attitude:
"the Enlightenment attitude was that the world had been made for human beings and that, in principle, nothing in it could be kept secret from them. ... The historical significance of radical green politics is that it constitutes a challenge to this project and to the norms and practices that sustain it. .. All this will be missed if we choose to restrict our understanding of green politics to its dominant guise; an environmentalism that seeks a cleaner service economy sustained by cleaner technology and producing cleaner conspicuous consumption."
Dobson, A. (2007). Green political thought, p.7.
On two reasons to care for the environment:
"ecologism's ... arguments may be summarized under two headings: those which suggest that human beings ought to care for the environment because it is in our interest to do so, and those which suggest that the environment has an intrinsic value in the sense that its value is not exhausted by its being a means to human ends - and even if it cannot be made a means to human ends it still has value."
Dobson, A. (2007). Green political thought, p.15.
On the green movement's use of gloomy prognostications:
"The radical green's consistent use of an apocalyptic tone is unique in the context of modern political ideologies, and it might be argued that the movement has relied too heavily on these sort of projections as a means of galvanizing people into action. The consequences of this has been twofold. First, there is the unfounded accusation by the movement's critics that it is informed by an overwhelming sense of pessimism as to the prospects of the planet and the human race along with it. In fact the movement's pessimism relates only to the likely life expectancy of current social and political practice. ... The second and perhaps more serious consequence of the movement's reliance on gloomy prognostications is that its theorists appear to have felt themselves absolved from serious thinking about realizing the change they propose. ... It is as though the movement's advocates have felt that the message was so obvious that it only needed to be given for it to be acted upon."
Dobson, A. (2007). Green political thought, p.16-17.
On industrialism's achilles heel:
"Ecologists argue that discussion about the respective merits of communism and capitalism is rather like rearranging the deckchairs on the *Titanic*: they point out that industrialism suffers from the contradiction of undermining the very context in which it is possible, by unsustainably consuming a finite stock of resources in a world that does not have a limitless capacity to absorb the waste produced by the industrial process."
Dobson, A. (2007). Green political thought, p.19.
On capitalism 'and' or 'versus' sustainability?
"Porritt has recently shifted his position away from a thoroughgoing critique of capitalism to a cautious endorsement of it. It is, he says, 'the only economic game in town', so if there is no hope for a sustainable capitalism, then there is no hope for sustainability, period. Greens of a more leftist persuasion ... will continue to argue that capitalism is part of the problem rather than part of the solution, principally because the drive for capital accumulation occurs without reference too or respect for the limits imposed by a finit planet"
Dobson, A. (2007). Green political thought, p.22.
On ecologists' heroes and villains:
"if twentieth-century physicists Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg are popular figures in the green pantheon, then Francis Bacon, René Descartes and Isaac Newton are their complementary opposites. These three, according to the analysis of most green theorists, produced a world-view at variance in virtually all respects with that demanded by ecological survival in the twentieth century. Briefly, Bacon developed methods and goals for science that involved ... the domination and control of nature; Descartes insisted that even the organic world (plants, animals and so on) was merely an extension of the general mechanical nature of the universe; and Newton held that the workings of this machine universe could be understood by reducing it to a collection of 'solid, massy, hard, impenetrable, movable particles'"
Dobson, A. (2007). Green political thought, p.30.
On challenges for green ethics:
"Anyone who has drowned slugs in a cup of beer to stop them eating the lettuces may be congratulated on a certain ecological sensibility (by not using chemical pesticide), but was the action environmentally ethical? ... 'The guidelines as regards day-to-day living and action for a follower of deep ecology remains unduly and unfortunately obscure' ... At the root of all of this is the search for a way of investing value in beings other than in human beings such that we cannot legitimately treat them only as means to our ends"
Dobson, A. (2007). Green political thought, p.35-36.
On potentially misanthoropic ecologists:
"One danger with the whole anti-anthropocentrism stance is that it may be interpreted as a form of misanthropism (hatred of humankind). This danger has become clear in the theoretical stances and political activities of the North American group Earth First! ... One article in an Earth First! journal (engagingly signed Miss Ann Thropy) stated that:
If radical environmentalists were to invent a disease to bring human population back to sanity, it would probably be something like AIDS ... the possible benefits of this to the environment are staggering ... just as the Plague contributed to the demise of feudalism, AIDS has the potential to end industrialism."
Dobson, A. (2007). Green political thought, p.46.
On three green take-home lessons from the limits to growth thesis:
"There are three principal aspects of the limits to growth thesis that have come to be of prime importance to the radical green position They are, first, that technological solutions (broadly understood; i.e. solutions formulated within the bounds of present economic, social and political practices) will not in themselves bring about a sustainable society; second, that the rapid rates of growth aimed for (and often achieved) by industrialized and industrializing societies have an exponential character, which means that dangers stored up over a relatively long period of time can very suddenly have a catastrophic effect and third, that the *interaction* of problems caused by growth means that such problems cannot be dealt with in isolation - i.e. solving one problem does not solve the rest, and may even exacerbate then."
Dobson, A. (2007). Green political thought, p.53-54.
On the alternative to technological wizardry:
"So, if the sustainable society is not, on the face of it, (only) going to be full of environment-friendly technological wizardry, what *will* it be like? Pat of the answer is provided by Garrett Hardin's definition of a 'technological solution': 'one that requires only a change in the techniques of the natural sciences, demanding little or nothing in the way of change in human values or ideas or morality. It follows that if the green movement believes that technology on its own cannot solve the limits to growth problem, then it will have to argue for more profound changes in social thought and practice - changes in human values, ideas of morality an associated practices."
Dobson, A. (2007). Green political thought, p.57.
On the green position having science on its side:
"this 'scientific' element in the green position pushes it well beyond a merely romantic respons to the trials and tribulation of industrial society. Greens propose a sustainable society not merely because the think, in terms of some bucolic fantasy, that it would be more pleasant to live in. They believe that science is on their side. This has given rise to a radical green economics that was presaged at the beginning of the century by the so-called 'energy economists' ... The most influential contemporary champion ... based upon this kind of observation is American economist Herman Daly. Green economics are rooted in our ecological circumstance in a very fundamental way: '[O]ur dependence on the natural world takes two forms - that of a source of low-entropy inputs and that of a sink for high-entropy waste outputs'."
Dobson, A. (2007). Green political thought, p.61-62.
On the primacy of ecological sustainability:
"If we can't secure our own biophysical survival, then it is game over for every other noble aspiration or venal self-interest that we may entertain. With great respect to those who assert the so-called 'primacy' of key social and economic goals (such as the elimination of poverty or the attainment of universal human rights), it must be said loud and clear that these are *secondary* goals: all else is conditional upon learning to live sustainably within the Earth's systems and limits not only is the pursuit of biophysical sustainability non-negotiable; it's preconditional."
quote from Porrit (2005) in Dobson, A. (2007). Green political thought, p.65.
On four reasons why GNP is inappropriate measure of the economy:
"Paul Ekins point to four reasons why greens (and not a few others) consider GNP to be an inadequate measure of the health of an economy. First, it ignores the production that takes place in the non-monetarized part of the economy ... Second, GNP calculations give us no idea of the distribution of production or its fruits. Third, they give no indication, either, of the sustainability of the economic practices that contribute to production ... Finally ... GNP ignores the costs of production - particularly the environmental costs."
Dobson, A. (2007). Green political thought, p.68-69.
A summary of green population control proposals:
"greens usually suggest that population control and reduction, although considered absolutely necessary, are a matter for negotiation rather than imposition. ... The kinds of tactic that have therefore been suggested within the green movement are summed up by Irvine and Ponton:
"There could be payments for periods of non-prgnancy and non-birth (a kind of no claims bonus); tax benefits for families with fewer than two children; sterilization bonuses; withdrawal of maternity and similar benefits after a second child; larger pensions for people with fewer than two children; free, easily available family planning; more funds for research into means of contraception, especially for men; an end to fertility research and treatment; a more realistic approach to abortion; the banning of surrogate mother hood and similar practices; and the promotion of equal opportunities for women in all areas of life."
Dobson, A. (2007). Green political thought, p.77.
On recycling as necessary but not sufficient:
"The fiction of combining present levels of consumption with 'limitless recycling' is more characteristic of the technocratic vision that of an ecological one. Recycling itself uses resources, expends energy, creates thermal pollution; on the bottom line, it's just an industrial activity like all the others. Recycling is both useful and necessary - but it is an illusion to imagine that it provides any basic answers."
Dobson, A. (2007). Green political thought, p.79.
On information alone as inadequate:
"among the more optimistic observers there has been a tendency ... to believe that the delivery of the message of impending catastrophe would be enough to generate social change. After all, how could a humanity aware of the threat to its existence fail to act in its own best interests? This certainly seems to have been the line taken in the original *Limits to Growth* report ... Contrary to its authors' expectations, however, the publication of their report has not of itself produced the changes for which they argue. Indeed, there is a growing consensus that the provision of information, on its own, is not enough to induce behaviour change, either in individuals or collectives."
Dobson, A. (2007). Green political thought, p.103-104.
On extending democratic representation to those affected by environmental degradation:
"Environmental problems have brought 'new constituencies' on to the political agenda, constituencies whose interests are affected by environmental change, but which are not easily represented through traditional democratic structures and their boundaries. Such constituencies include 'away country' nationals (e.g. Scandinavians affected by British acid rain), future generations and parts of the non-human natural world. The question is: Assuming that the interests of these constituencies should be represented democratically ... how might institutions be appropriately redesigned? This is a question raised, but not answered, by those who see the future of green politics as being about extending democracy into nature."
Dobson, A. (2007). Green political thought, p.113-114.On monkeywrenching:
"Earth First! received adverse publicity during its campaign to spike trees with long nails to prevent them from being cut down, because of the possibility of injury to loggers from their own saws. The *Field Guide* [to monkeywrenching] consequently carefully explains that nails should be driven in high enough up the tree to prevent loggers' access. The intention is to damage industrial saws in the mill rather than injure the loggers themselves. The political intentions of Earth First! sabotage are to increase the operating costs of environmentally destructive business, to raise public awareness regarding environmentally despoliation, and (interestingly) to increase the respectability of more mainstream environmentalism."
Dobson, A. (2007). Green political thought, p.130.
On green political change stakeholders:
"*Who* is best places to bring about social change? A central characteristic of green political theory is that it has never consistently asked that question, principally because the answer is held to be obvious: everyone. The general political-ecological position that the environmental crisis will eventually be suffered by everybody on the planet, and that therefore the ideology's appeal is universal, has been perceived as a source of strength for the green movement. ... this may be the movement's basic strategic political error because the universalist appeal is, properly speaking, Utopian. It is simply untrue to say that ... it is in everybody's interest to bring about a sustainable and egalitarian society. A significant and influential proportion of society, for example, has a material interest in prolonging the environmental crisis because there is money to be made from managing it."
Dobson, A. (2007). Green political thought, p.135-136.
On green politics as a conspiracy against the poor:
"Nothing could be more damaging to the Green cause than the perception that it is supported by privileged people who have enough for their own needs, and are now eager to limit the access of the poor to those benefits of industrial society which they themselves enjoy."
Dobson, A. (2007). Green political thought, p.144-145.
On the tension between ecologism and liberalism:
"environmentalism and liberalism are compatible, but ecologism and liberalism are not. ... there is no doubt that ecologism's stress on 'limits' of all sorts amounts to the potential curtailment of certain taken-for-granted freedoms, particularly in the realms of production, consumption and mobility. ... liberals do not typically welcome suggestions that people do not know what is in their own best interest. ... far from regarding people's preferences as sacrosanct, political ecologists seek to influence them all the time"
Dobson, A. (2007). Green political thought, p.150-151.
On ecofeminism, childbirth and population:
"One problem ecofeminism needs to confront in the context of the wider aims of the green movement is the reconciliation of the demand for positive evaluation of the activity of childbirth and the need to reduce population levels. Of course, there is no need for such an evaluation to imply a large number of actual births, but a culture that held childbirth in high esteem may find it hard to legitimize population control policies."
Dobson, A. (2007). Green political thought, p.185.
On ecologism and the post-industrial society:
"Ecologism envisages a post-industrial future quite distinct from that with which we are most generally acquainted. ... ecologism's post-industrial society questions growth and technology, and suggests that the Good Life will involve more work and fewer material objects. Fundamentally, ecologism takes seriously the universal condition of the finitude of the planet and asks what kinds of political, economic and social practices are (1) possible and (2) desirable within that framework. Environmentalism, typically, does no such thing. ... Environmentalism will usually be concerned about 'nature' only so far as it might affect human beings; ecologists will argue that the strong anthropocentrism this betrays is more a part of our current problems than a solution to them."
Dobson, A. (2007). Green political thought, p.189.
On cornucopians then and now:
"The 'first-wave' attack on the limits to growth view came from resource cornucopians such as Herman Kahn and Julian Simon who simply argued (and still do) that there is more than enough to go round, more of less for ever ... These arguments ... have been buttressed (or in some cases supplanted) but a much more sophisticated 'second-wave' response to the limits to growth position which goes by the name of 'ecological modernization'."
Dobson, A. (2007). Green political thought, p.195.
The UN negotiations as important but incomprehensible:
"In many people's views the UN climate negotiations are becoming less and less relevant. The lack of concrete results and concerted action stemming from the climate summits over the years feeds disillusion and cynicism. The complicated, mystifying, alienating policy language of incomprehensible abbreviations and acronyms - LULUCF, QELROS, REDD, GCF, MRV, AWG-LCA - distance the majority from the small group of technocrats, negotiators and lobbyists immersed in the details, tirelessly taking seemingly minuscule steps back and forth. ... Nonetheless, the UN negotiations do matter."
Hällström, Niclas (ed.) (2012). What Next Volume III: Climate, Development and Equity, p.8.
The climate crisis; competition vs. cooperation:
"The alternative to a free-for-all, winner-takes-all scenario must sensibly include some kind of multilateral, 'global governance' approach. And the UN is what we have. Yet, within this framework there is now a lack of momentum, a shift towards weak voluntary commitments and a downgrading of equity principles. Meanwhile the planet continues to heat up and global inequalities are growing. How did this happen? What are the trajectories ahead? ... To conveniently trust that 'business as usual' in the hands of the most powerful vested and commercial interests will simply 'fix' the problem through new technologies and 'cost-effective' market solutions, is, in light of these articles [in this book], a recipe for disaster."
Hällström, Niclas (ed.) (2012). What Next Volume III: Climate, Development and Equity, p.9.
Where does societal change come from?:
"many achievements and much 'progress' in human history have come about when people have organised and taken action from below. The end of slavery, women's equal rights, the civil rights movement, the welfare state, nuclear disarmament, the end of apartheid and many actions against environmental injustices would not have been possible without strong action by different constellations of civil society and social movements. Parliaments, government, business, academia and media are all crucially important, but are by themselves not likely to create enough momentum for the far-reaching change that is needed."
Hällström, Niclas (ed.) (2012). What Next Volume III: Climate, Development and Equity, p.10.
On wishful thinking and whistling in the dark:
"Only if we strip away the rhetoric and naive technological optimism surrounding the climate policy can we have some hope of responding appropriately to the scale of the challenges we face. If we are not honest about the situation we will continue to do nothing substantive. Instead we will carry on with the same ineffective policies we have pursued for the past two decades - what I refer to as 'cognitive dissonance' (an academic disguise for hypocrisy - sticking our head in the sand and, despite the science and data, convincing ourselves everything is going to be all right). The evidence however, is that we have been heading in the wrong direction for years and, more disturbingly, the situation is worsening rather then improving."
Hällström, Niclas (ed.) (2012). What Next Volume III: Climate, Development and Equity, p.16.
On the void between (climate) talk and action:
"A prerequisite of responding to the climate challenge is exposing the void between the rhetoric and the reality around efforts to reduce emissions (mitigation). There is certainly plenty of discussion of mitigation, but seldom does it focus on the actual gap between the claims we make as individuals, companies, nations and a global community and what is actually happening in terms of absolute emissions. Buying a slightly more efficient car or improving the performance of supermarket refrigerators has nothing to do with solutions to climate change if we subsequently drive further or chill more of our food."
Hällström, Niclas (ed.) (2012). What Next Volume III: Climate, Development and Equity, p.17.
On the void between (climate) talk and action - part II:
"Understanding the probability of staying below (or of exceeding) 2°C is pivotal to any informed discussion of mitigation ... As it is, policy-makers (along with many academics and climate specialists) repeatedly make statements, emphasising the importance of staying below 2°C whilst at the same time proposing policies that imply a very hight chance of exceeding 2°C. It is from here that much of the void between climate rhetoric and actual mitigation policies emerges."
Hällström, Niclas (ed.) (2012). What Next Volume III: Climate, Development and Equity, p.18.
On setting goals for how much the earth can heat up:
"The impacts of 2°C are more serious than previously thought, and consequently the 2°C guard-rail lies in far more dangerous territory. ... If one accepts the rationale of safeguarding against dangerous climate change it is difficult to argue against a 1°C goal from a scientific point of view. However, from a practical political point of view, it is almost impossible to imagine us now stabilising at 1°C , given what we have emitted into the atmosphere already. Even if all emissions were immediately stopped, 1°C would likely be exceeded. In other words, 2°C, perhaps 1.5°C, poses a limit of what we could plausibly aim for. At the same time, we should bear in mind that we have consistently and abjectly failed to set a course that would ensure remaining below even 2°C."
Hällström, Niclas (ed.) (2012). What Next Volume III: Climate, Development and Equity, p.19-20.
On the convenience of setting 2050 emission goals:
"the UK has committed to reductions of 80 per cent CO2 equivalent by 2050. The EU has adopted a similar goal, while the 2007 UN climate negotiations in Bali concluded that cuts of 50 per cent in global emissions by 2050 are necessary. The problem with 2050 targets is that they conveniently give the illusion that we can carry on with what we are doing and pass the problem on to future generations. A 2050 goal is convenient for policy-makers, companies and the public alike - it does not interfere with decision-making, immediate business issues or how we live our lives. Indeed, the lure of long-term targets is considerable. Unfortunately, there is no basis in science for banking on the problem being solved thorugh technology, by someone else, in the future; disturbingly, many scientists have used this inappropriate shorthand and continue to do so."
Hällström, Niclas (ed.) (2012). What Next Volume III: Climate, Development and Equity, p.20.
On cumulative, accumulating emissions:
"Every day we turn the lights on, every time we drive a car we add to the accumulating stock of atmospheric CO2. Our cumulative emissions - and our *carbon budget* - are pivotal to understanding temperature and climate change. This insight is fundamentally important; it exposes how inadequate it is to aim for long-term, gradual reductions to be delivered by future technology while highlighting the need for urgent and radical reductions that we need to bring about now. That is obviously much less attractive. Hence we shy away from addressing cumulative emissions. We much prefer to stick to long-term targets. They may prove meaningless with respect to global warming but they are tailored to cater for our cognitive dissonance."
Hällström, Niclas (ed.) (2012). What Next Volume III: Climate, Development and Equity, p.21.
On our short-sightedness as a species:
"If any other species exhibited this same exponential pattern, we would know it was headed down a genetic cul-de-sac and faced a sticky end. The belief that it is possible to endlessly pursue such growth of everything and that the human species is somehow clever enough to defy the laws of science and physics betrays a certain arrogance in our collective imagination. Over the last 100 years, CO2 emissions have grown by about 2.7 per cent a year. Despite considerable discussions about climate change ... emissions have gone up rather than down, as one might have expected. In fact, even the *rate* of increase has gone up."
Hällström, Niclas (ed.) (2012). What Next Volume III: Climate, Development and Equity, p.21.
On the clash between climate change challenges and market economics solutions:
"Conventional market economics is premised on understanding and making small (marginal) changes. But with climate change, we are not talking about small changes; we are dealing with a world of very large changes, outside the realm of standard market theory. ... neoclassical (market) economists continue to propose marginal-based theories of small changes, regardless of the scale of the problem; this is not only academically disingenuous but also dangerously misleading. With global warming, we are dealing with non-marginal, major changes occurring very rapidly; a type of problem that market economics is ill-equipped to address."
Hällström, Niclas (ed.) (2012). What Next Volume III: Climate, Development and Equity, p.27-28.
On 4°C being much much worse than 2°C warming of the earth:
"the linear understanding of the problems held by many - for example, the idea that 4°C means a doubling of the impact of 2°C, and that if we do not act now, it is ok because we can do so in the future - is scientifically unfounded. This does not work with a complex, dynamic system such as the climate system."
Hällström, Niclas (ed.) (2012). What Next Volume III: Climate, Development and Equity, p.34.
On different degrees of "impossible!":"In summary ... science tells us that for an outside chance of 2°C [warming OECD] countries need to reach emissions reductions of the order of about 40 per cent by 2015, 70 per cent by 2020, and over 90 per cent by 2030 ... These numbers are strikingly different from the sort of numbers we traditionally see. The typical respons is: 'That is impossible'. In response, we need to ask: Is living with a 4°C global temperature rise by 2050 or 2070 less impossible? Many people believe that we cannot reduce emissions at these rates, but it is crucial to stress the fact that we almost certainly are unable to adapt to the temperature increases that are likely if we do not cut our emissions drastically. There is no easy way out of this predicament, and we should not pretend that we are awash with win-win or green growth opportunities. Ours is now a world of very difficult futures, and the sooner we acknowledge this, the sooner we can seriously address the challenges we face."
Hällström, Niclas (ed.) (2012). What Next Volume III: Climate, Development and Equity, p.35.
On exactly *who* needs to change their behaviours:
"We know who the main emitters, the 'few per cent', are. Large proportions of those residing in OECD countries. Anyone who gets on a plane once a year. Most academics. In the UK anyone earning towards £30,000 pounds, or perhaps less than that, would be within the 'few per cent'. ... since we now who needs to change, policies must be aimed specifically at these people. This requires vast political mobilisation, but it also offers hope. There need to be policies tailored to reduce the emissions of the 1 per cent, 2 per cent - or even 10 per cent - who are emitting significantly and disproportionately, rather than universal approaches that impact all 7 billion of the population - 80 to 90 per cent of whom are already very low mitters."
Hällström, Niclas (ed.) (2012). What Next Volume III: Climate, Development and Equity, p.36.
On rich countries' appropriation of the remaining atmospheric space:
"With less than 20 per cent of the population, developed countries have produced more than 70 per cent of historical emissions since 1850 ... Developed countries representing a minority of people have appropriated the major part of a shared global resource for their own use - a resource that belongs to all and should be fairly shared with the majority of people. By basing their future 'assigned amounts' on their past excessive emissions levels ... Their proposals, if adopted, would lock developing countries into low and rapidly decreasing per capital shares, denying them the atmospheric space and finance needed to build the houses, schools, roads, and infrastructure the developed world already has.
Hällström, Niclas (ed.) (2012). What Next Volume III: Climate, Development and Equity, p.43.
On the hard connection between energy and economic development:
"The brutal bottom line here is that the only proven routes to 'development' - to water and food security, improved health care and education, secure livelihoods - involve expanding access to energy services, and, consequently, a seemingly inevitable increase in fossil fuel use and thus carbon emissions. Indeed, in the absence of climate constraints, the Souths's citizens would quite naturally seek to increase the use of conventional energy resources to fuel the expansion of their infrastructure and the improvement of the material well-being of their citizens. As numerous studies and reports underscore over and over again access to energy services is fundamental to the fulfilment of any development goals."
Hällström, Niclas (ed.) (2012). What Next Volume III: Climate, Development and Equity, p.49.
On the south opting out of climate change mitigation:
"Unless the global climate dead explicitly preservers viable development paths for the countries that were left behind during the great fossil expansion, they may quite justifiably conclude that they have more to lose than to gain from any truly robust engagement with a global climate regime that, after all, must significantly curtail access to the energy sources and technologies that historically enabled those in the industrialised world to realise their development."
Hällström, Niclas (ed.) (2012). What Next Volume III: Climate, Development and Equity, p.51.
On the 70% below the "development threshold":
"People below [”the development threshold”] are taken as having development as their proper priority. … (the approximately 70 per cent of the population that lives below the development threshold is responsible for only about 15 per cent of all cumulative emissions) and [they have] little capacity to invest in solving it. People above the threshold, on the other hand, are taken as having realised their right to development and as bearing the responsibility to preserve that right for others. They must, as their incomes rise, gradually assume a greater faction of the costs of curbing the emissions associated with their own consumption, as well as the costs of ensuring that, as those below the threshold rise towards and then above it, they are able to do so along sustainable, low-emission paths."
Hällström, Niclas (ed.) (2012). What Next Volume III: Climate, Development and Equity, p.56.
Beyond national averages:
"A nation’s aggregate capacity [to counter climate change], then, is defined as the sum of all individual income, excluding income below the threshold. Responsibility, by which we mean contribution to the climate problem, is similarly defined as cumulative emissions … excluding emissions that correspond to consumption below the development threshold. … Thus, both capacity and responsibility are defined in individual terms, and in a manner that takes explicit account of the unequal distribution of income within countries. This is a critical and long-overdue move, because the usual practice of relying on national per-capita averages fails to capture either the true depth of a country’s developmental need or the actual extent of its wealth. If one looks only as far as a national average, then the richer, higher-emitting minority lies hidden behind the poorer, lower-emitting majority. Paradoxically, that same ’hidden’ richer minority itself obscures the plight of the poor"
Hällström, Niclas (ed.) (2012). What Next Volume III: Climate, Development and Equity, p.58-59.
On breaking the silence:
"Diplomacy is traditionally a game of alliances and compromise. Yet, in the early hours of Saturday 11 December 2010, Bolivia found itself alone against the world: the only nation to oppose the outcome of the United Nations climate change summit in Cancun. We were accused of being obstructionist, obstinate and unrealistic. But in truth we did not feel alone, nor were we offended by the attacks. Instead we saw an immense obligation to set aside diplomacy and tell the truth. … Many commentators have called the Cancun accord a ’step in the right direction’. We disagree. It is a giant step that replaces binding mechanisms for reducing greenhouse gas emissions with voluntary pledges that are wholly insufficient. … Bolivia may have been the only country to speak out agains these failures, but several negotiators told us privately that they supported us."
Solón, P. (2012). Why Bolivia stood alone in opposing the Cancun climate agreement. In Hällström, Niclas (ed.), What Next Volume III: Climate, Development and Equity, p.106.
On using climate negotiations to cement the world order:
"I already started to sense the damage in Copenhagen’s Bella Center while the negotiations were still ongoing, when more than one young Chinese activist expressed their confusion to me. They had campaigned for years to push China to go low-carbon and make more ambitious efforts, yet COP-15 was their first time of witnessing international negotiations at play and it shattered their conviction. They seemed to now see some truth in the claims that the West is trying to use climate change to constrain the growth of China and other developing countries, as argued by some Chinese climate skeptics whom they used to disregard."
Wen, D. (2012). China and climate change – Spin, facts and Realpolitik. In Hällström, Niclas (ed.), What Next Volume III: Climate, Development and Equity, p.126.
On unfair masquerading as fair:
"At Copenhagen, developed countries proposed a global emission-reduction goal of 50 per cent – and 80 per cent for themselves – by 2050 compared to 1990. China’s reported big sin for sinking Copenhagen was to refuse this seemingly generous proposal. Why? Because the offer is not so pretty when you do the numbers. … even if we ignore cumulative, historical emissions, which is important in relation to equity, this seemingly generous offer by the developed countries actually locks in their already unfairly large share of the remaining atmospheric space. … this is the sad reality of the climate negotiations: developed countries try to escape their historical responsibility and continue to occupy a disproportionally large share of what remains, while developing countries including China are being blamed for resisting such an unfair deal."
Wen, D. (2012). China and climate change – Spin, facts and Realpolitik. In Hällström, Niclas (ed.), What Next Volume III: Climate, Development and Equity, p.128.
On the road to hell being paved by international trade laws:
"The massive growth of wind power installations [in China] is partly due to proper policies which have led to huge cost reductions, making wind energy much more affordable. … a new bidding process was introduced in 2006: turbines with domestic content above 70 per cent can apply for a subsidy of 600 Yuan per kW. It was designed to help producers overcome the entry barrier, but was not intended as a permanent subsidy: for each producer, only a maximum of 50 sets could enjoy this subsidy. Between 2006 and 2010, wind turbine cost per kW installation decreased from around 8000 Yuan to 3000 Yuan (US$1 = 6.5 Yuan). Unfortunately, this apparently rather effective policy was scrapped in July 2011 under US pressure, as the US filed a WTO case against China, claiming the policies were incompatible with WTO rules. Not limited to wind … On 9 September 2010, the biggest union in the United States, United Steelworkers, filed a 5,800-page petition under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, alleging that the Chinese government had violated international trade laws by providing hundreds of billions of dollars in illegal subsidies to its green-technology producers and exporters. On 15 October 2010, Barack Obama’s administration announced the launch of a probe into the complaints, and WTO complaints were consequently filed against China."
Wen, D. (2012). China and climate change – Spin, facts and Realpolitik. In Hällström, Niclas (ed.), What Next Volume III: Climate, Development and Equity, p.132-133.
On buying cars to keep the wheels turning:
"China’s chief negotiator between 2000 and 2005 recounted a telling story: ’Years ago a now-retired senior German official became agitated when I remarked that if the Chinese wanted to combat climate change, his country’s car manufacturers could go home and the Chinese could return to their bicycles. This would not do, he said, the Chinese should keep buying cars, but only drive them once a week’. Indeed, China’s middle-class is buying cars in great numbers … Yet, attaining the Western consumerist lifestyle for the Chinese population at large is simply physically impossible. … we would need 1.12 Earths if every Chinese were to achieve the present American lifestyle with the current level of technology."
Wen, D. (2012). China and climate change – Spin, facts and Realpolitik. In Hällström, Niclas (ed.), What Next Volume III: Climate, Development and Equity, p.134.
On the plight of the Least Developed Countries:
"The Least Developed Countries (LDCs) account for less than 1 per cent of the world’s total GHG emissions, but the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events in them are five times higher now (519 events in 2000-2010) than during the 1970s. In the last decades, about 40 per cent of all casualties related to natural disasters were found in LDCs … The North’s past emissions, coupled with its failure to reduce current emissions substantially, have left only a minuscule carbon budget on which Southern countries must draw to pursue their development goals of providing their poor people a modicum of food and water security, healthcare, literacy, elementary education, access to energy and employment security."
Bidwai, P. (2012). Climate change, equity and development – India’s dilemmas. In Hällström, Niclas (ed.), What Next Volume III: Climate, Development and Equity, p.148-149.
On the dilemma of the South:
"The South faces a great dilemma. In the absence of affordable and adequate low-carbon alternatives, much of the South can only pursue its development goals by relying on fossil fuels, which will raise emissions in the short run. … the South cannot simply be asked to undertake emissions cuts, certainly not legally binding ones, until it has adressed a good part of its development deficit."
Bidwai, P. (2012). Climate change, equity and development – India’s dilemmas. In Hällström, Niclas (ed.), What Next Volume III: Climate, Development and Equity, p.150.
On converting the climate crisis into a security threat:
"The climate negotiations impasse shows that the world is currently unable to muster a worthy response to a crisis that threatens millions of lives in the short run, and ultimately the survival of humanity itself. The world’s political, corporate and military elites seem to be losing the will to combat climate change. They are increasingly inclined only to manage its consequences – by policing or suppressing protests arising from economic and environmental crises, acquiring emergency powers, suspending civil and political rights, using force to quell conflicts and building up formidable security apparatuses. Efforts are under way to convert the climate crisis into a security threat."
Bidwai, P. (2012). Climate change, equity and development – India’s dilemmas. In Hällström, Niclas (ed.), What Next Volume III: Climate, Development and Equity, p.150-151.
On India’s rich hiding behind its poor:
"Indian policy-makers remain fixated on only one, limited, notion of equity anchored in national per capita emissions. But this means little in a society as deeply divided and unequal as India’s, where the average individual emissions of the rich exceed those of the poor by perhaps five to 10 times. Consumption by the affluent is the main driver of India’s rising emissions curve. The per capita norm is a shield that enables India’s elite to hide behind the poor while indulging in profligate consumption and evading responsibility towards the underprivileged in its own society. … The climate debated should provoke serious engagement with the Gandhian legacy of austerity premised upon a radical critique of industrailism and consumerism."
Bidwai, P. (2012). Climate change, equity and development – India’s dilemmas. In Hällström, Niclas (ed.), What Next Volume III: Climate, Development and Equity, p.153.
On the ’right’ to increase emissions:
"For all the elevated rhetoric about justice and equal rights, India’s positions essentially articulate the interests of its small but exceedingly powerful consumerist elite, roughly 10 to 15 per cent of the population, which has a high stake in raising its emissions and believes it has the ’right’ to ’get even with’ the North, no matter what happens to the climate. India’s privileged minority cynically chants the mantra of North-South justice in pursuit of this ’right’."
Bidwai, P. (2012). Climate change, equity and development – India’s dilemmas. In Hällström, Niclas (ed.), What Next Volume III: Climate, Development and Equity, p.158.
On reverse technology transfer:
"North-South technology transfers facilitated by standard mechanisms of foreign aid, export subsidies, foreign direct investment and so on necessarily revolve around Northern export technologies that have been developed in the shadow of fossil fuel dominance and the search for fossil fuel replacement. … current conceptions of technology transfer slight the importance of technology exchange based on Southern innovation. South-to-North and South-to-South transactions are likely to prove increasingly key as the world warms further. In agriculture, for example, although no-till and permaculture movements in the North are important, the main reservoirs of knowledge on which to develop the non- or low-fossil fuel agriculture which is the key to future nutrition ara located in the South. Yet ’technology transfer’ continues to carry the connotation, as it always has, of moving Northern technology into a ’technology-deprived’ area in the South."
Lohmann, L. (2012). Climate as investment – Dead and living solutions. In Hällström, Niclas (ed.), What Next Volume III: Climate, Development and Equity, p.171-172.
On leaving fossil-fueled institutions behind:
"The hope that a replacement for fossil fuels can be found that will allow everything else to remain exactly as it is has to be abandoned. Assumptions about demand, energy planning, development and social control that derive from the fossil age and its politics are of little use in a greenhouse world. It is not only fossil fuels that must be left in the ground, but also the practices and institutions that have made their extraction and buring possible and even necessary."
Lohmann, L. (2012). Climate as investment – Dead and living solutions. In Hällström, Niclas (ed.), What Next Volume III: Climate, Development and Equity, p.178.
On the failure of commodifying carbon emissions:
"This article [argues] that the collapse in carbon prices is symptomatic of deeper flaws in the attempt to commodify ’carbon’ as a solution to climate change. … ’Offsets are an imaginary commodity created by deducting what you hope happens from what you guess would have happened’ … carbon credits rarely drive investment, but generally subsidise projects that would have happened regardless."
Reyes, O. (2012). What goes up must come down – Carbon trading, industrial subsidies and capital market governance. In Hällström, Niclas (ed.), What Next Volume III: Climate, Development and Equity, p.186-187.
When environmental economics fail:
"reduction of value to price can serve to undermine the case for addressing climate change, as George Monbiot points out: ”Subject the natural world to cost-benefit analysis and accountants and statisticians will decide which parts of it we can do without. All that now needs to be done to demonstrate that an ecosystem can be junked is to show that the money to be made from trashing it exceed the money to be made from preserving it.”"
Reyes, O. (2012). What goes up must come down – Carbon trading, industrial subsidies and capital market governance. In Hällström, Niclas (ed.), What Next Volume III: Climate, Development and Equity, p.204.
On possible geoengineering side effects:
"Opting for geoengineering flies in the face of precaution, and history. Even some of those who would like to see large-scale investment in the field are quick to acknowledge that we do not know enough about the Earth’s systems to risk intentional geoengineering; we do not know if geoengineering is going to be inexpensive (as proponents insist) – especially if/when geoengineering doesn’t work as intended, forestalls constructive alternatives, or causes adverse effects; we do not know how to recall a planetary-scale technology once it has been released."
ETC Group. (2012). Darken the sky and whiten the earth – The dangers of geoengieering. In Hällström, Niclas (ed.), What Next Volume III: Climate, Development and Equity, p.211.
On who benefits and who looses from geoengieering:
"it is the states in the global North, which are responsible for most of the historic greenhouse gas emissions and have either denied climate change or prevaricated for decades, that seem to be warming most quickly to the geoengieering option. And they would have de facto control over its deployment. … Given the dismal and contested decades of climate negotiations, there is little reason for the governments of people of most of Africa, Asia and Latin America to trust that the governments, industries or scientists of the biggest carbon-emitting states will protect their interests. In the absence of demonstrable goodwill by the states likely to conduct geoengieering, the governments of the global South should be suspicious."
ETC Group. (2012). Darken the sky and whiten the earth – The dangers of geoengieering. In Hällström, Niclas (ed.), What Next Volume III: Climate, Development and Equity, p.210-211.
On weather modification as warfare:
"attempts to produce rain in one place have been regarded by neighbouring cities as rainfall ’theft’, especially if crops fail in the aftermath of the weather interventions. … So-called ’weather warfare’ by the US government during the Vietnam War (under the code name ’Operation Popeye’) led to an international agreement to ban hostile uses of weather modification techniques [the ENMOD treaty]. Since weather is complex and inherently transboundary, the line between what is a hostile or peaceful intention may be difficult to determine.”
ETC Group. (2012). Darken the sky and whiten the earth – The dangers of geoengieering. In Hällström, Niclas (ed.), What Next Volume III: Climate, Development and Equity, p.215.
On the ’Lomborg manoeuvre’:
"The ’Lomborg manoeuvre’ – switching from opposing action on climate change to supporting the most extreme action on climate change – is now seemingly de regueur among industrial apologists, former climate change skeptics and ’deniers’, especially in the United States. … For those who previously doubted (or still do doubt) the science of anthropogenic global warming, the geoengineering approach shifts the discussion from reducing emissions to end-of-pipe ’solutions’. Once geoengineering is an option, there is less need to bicker about who put the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (and less need to ask them to stop). If we have the means to suck up greenhouse gases or turn down the thermostat, emitters can, in principle, continue unabated."
ETC Group. (2012). Darken the sky and whiten the earth – The dangers of geoengieering. In Hällström, Niclas (ed.), What Next Volume III: Climate, Development and Equity, p.221.
On agriculture in developing countries:
"Agriculture is the most important sector in many developing countries and is central to the survival of hundreds of millions of people. In most developing countries, agriculture, which provides the bulk of employment, is not a commercial activity per se, but a way of life. Most agricultural production in these countries involves small landholdings, mainly producing for self-consumption. … Hence agriculture is critical for food and livelihood security, and for the approximately 500 million smallholder households, totaling 1.5 billion people, living on smallholdings of two hectares of land or less."
Stabinsky, D. And Ching, L. (2012). Ecological agriculture, climate resilience and adaptation – A roadmap. In Hällström, Niclas (ed.), What Next Volume III: Climate, Development and Equity, p.238.
On climate change effects on food production:
"Overall … the assessment is that climate change will affect food security in all its dimensions – food availability, access to food, stability of food supplies and food utilisation. The impacts of climate change will fall disproportionately on developing countries, despite the fact that they contributed least to the causes."
Stabinsky, D. And Ching, L. (2012). Ecological agriculture, climate resilience and adaptation – A roadmap. In Hällström, Niclas (ed.), What Next Volume III: Climate, Development and Equity, p.241.
On total greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture:
"Bellaby et al. (2008) estimate that total greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel and energy use and farm operations and production of chemicals from agriculture are in the range of 0.399-1.656 petagram CO2e. The large range of values reflects different management practices. Production of synthetic fertilisers contributes the largest amount, followed by use of farm machinery, irrigation and pesticide production."
Stabinsky, D. And Ching, L. (2012). Ecological agriculture, climate resilience and adaptation – A roadmap. In Hällström, Niclas (ed.), What Next Volume III: Climate, Development and Equity, p.243.
On the primacy of industrial input-dependent agriculture:
"Too often, national and global agriculture research agendas have been dominated by conventional agriculture approaches and the promise of new technologies. Ecological agriculture has been sidelined … current agriculture research is dominated by the private sector, which focuses on crops and technologies from which they stand to profit most. This research perpetuates industrial, input-dependent agriculture, including synthetic fertilisers, rather than solution for the challenges facing developing-country farmers."
Stabinsky, D. And Ching, L. (2012). Ecological agriculture, climate resilience and adaptation – A roadmap. In Hällström, Niclas (ed.), What Next Volume III: Climate, Development and Equity, p.251.
On US non-responsibility for carbon emissions:
"Over the years, the US has repeatedly insisted that it will never take any special responsibility for climate change. In 2010, for example, US negotiator Todd Stern declared that while the US recognises its ’historic role in putting emissions in the atmosphere,’ it ’categorically rejects … culpability or reparations’, echoing the first George Bush’s insistence in 1992 that ’the American lifestyle is not up for negotiation’."
Lohmann, L. (2012). Beyond patzers and clients – Strategic reflections on climate change and the ’Green Economy’. In Hällström, Niclas (ed.), What Next Volume III: Climate, Development and Equity, p.301.
On the carbon trading schemes as a conspiracy:
"For many, to see the introduction of carbon markets into the Kyoto Protocol as a prescient strategy in defence of fossil-fuelled productivism may look like an overestimation of the foresight and coordination of US elites, even to indulge in ’conspiracy theory’. … Surely, the objection might be made, there was no hidden, flawlessly executed master plan, merely the usual mistakes, muddle, compromise, improvisation and unintended consequences that afflict everybody. The triumph for coal, oil and gas achieved by carbon trading was something that few intended and no one could have predicted. Basically, the objection goes, the US elites most concerned with preserving the rule of fossil fuels just lucked out."
Lohmann, L. (2012). Beyond patzers and clients – Strategic reflections on climate change and the ’Green Economy’. In Hällström, Niclas (ed.), What Next Volume III: Climate, Development and Equity, p.311.
On governments vs social movements as agents of change:
"Having spent my life as an activist within a civil society organisation, working both in UN corridors and in collaboration with social movements on the ground, I am firmly convinced that substantial change and real solutions to our most pressing problems – food, fuel and climate – will not originate from governments (or from UN agencies), but from civil society/social movements. Institutions will never move far enough or fast enough without the political pressure from demands by peoples and social movements."
Mooney, P. (2012). Civil society strategies and the Stockholm syndrome. In Hällström, Niclas (ed.), What Next Volume III: Climate, Development and Equity, p.327.
On political ecology:
"By introducing *political ecology*, a field that seeks to unravel the political forces at work in environmental access, management, and transformation, I hope to demonstrate the way that politics is inevitably ecological and that ecology is inherently political."
Robbins, P. (2011). Political ecology: A critical introduction, p.3.
On the delusional hope of the gravely misinformed:
"Even if petroleum becomes scarce, the rising price per barrel will encourage the use of otherwise expensive alternatives like wind and solar power, or simply cause consumers to drive less, endlessly stretching the world's energy supply. While such optimistic prognoses are themselves fraught with problems, they do point to an important and increasingly well-accepted truism: resources are constructed rather than given."
Robbins, P. (2011). Political ecology: A critical introduction, p.17.
On the arrogance of assuming that everything worthwhile comes from the global north:
"the assertion that modern technologies and markets can optimize production in the undeveloped world, leading to conservation and environmental benefits, has proven historically questionable. The experience of the green revolution, where technologies of production developed in American and Europe were distributed and subsidized for agrarian production around the world, led to what even its advocates admit to be extensive environmental problems: exhausted soils, contaminated water, increased pest invasions. Beyond these failings, the more general assertion that superior environmental knowledge originates in the global north for transfer to the global south is in itself problematic, reproducing as it does paternalistic colonial knowledge relations and a priori discounting the environmental practices of indigenous and local communities."
Robbins, P. (2011). Political ecology: A critical introduction, p.19.
On political vs apolitical ecologies:"[so-called] apolitical ecologies, regardless of claims to even-handed objectivity, are implicitly political. It is not so much that political ecology is "more political" than these other approaches to the environment. Rather it is simply more *explicit* in its normative goals and more outspoken about the assumptions from which its research is conducted."
Robbins, P. (2011). Political ecology: A critical introduction, p.19.
On the diversity of political ecology"The diversity of political ecology research ... results from innumerable, smaller, differing arguments addressing, among many issues:
- Possibility for community collective action;
- role of human labor in environmental metabolism;
- nature of reis-taking and risk-aversion in human behavior;
- diversity of environmental perceptions;
- causes and effects of political corruption;
- relationship between knowledge and power.""
Robbins, P. (2011). Political ecology: A critical introduction, p.24.
On the marginal and powerless as the true sustainability champions:
"[in] Cultural ecology ... Farming, herding, and hunting groups around the world, who have been characterized as primitive, conservative, and inefficient, become the focus on sustained and focused study, revealing the veracity and sustainability of their ways of life. It is the modern development state, by implication, with its high-input agricultural systems, its market orientation, and its urge to separate producers from resources, that appears primitive and inefficient."
Robbins, P. (2011). Political ecology: A critical introduction, p.43.
On dependency theory:
"For dependency theorists, the marginal conditions of the word's poorest nations were directly the result of the terms of trade established during the colonial period, when most colonized countries were forced to produce primary products, rather than more valuable industrial and craft goods. This was most notably the case in India, where a tradition of textile production was shunted aside by colonial authorities, who desired cheap cotton from Indian fields, but no competition in finished goods for textile mills in Manchester. These relationships hardened into a perpetual economic order of underdevelopment ... "Dependence continues into the present thorough international ownership of the region's most dynamic sectors, multinational corporate control over technology, and payments of royalties, interest, and profit"."
Robbins, P. (2011). Political ecology: A critical introduction, p.56.
On the zero-sumness of political ecology:
"Political ecology stories are stories of justice and injustice. In such narratives ... causes and consequences ... are uneven between communities, classes, and groups. This is, in part, a reflection of the simple fact that the environmental effects of costs of human action are typically offloaded onto communities, people, or spaces with inadequate political or financial resources to resist. ... At bottom it is never enough to say that outcomes have winners and losers; it is essential to understand the degree to which such outcomes are non-incidental, persistent, and repetitive: a structure of outcomes that produces losers at the expense of winners."
Robbins, P. (2011). Political ecology: A critical introduction, p.87.
On apolitical vs political ecology:
"Soil erosion, deforestation, desertification, biodiversity loss, water pollution, as well as atmospheric and climate changes are all common targets for research attention. These environmental crises are ... important to *apolitcal* ecologists, whose dominant narrative - that people destroy ecosystems out of ignorance, selfishness, and overpopulation - is the central target of political ecology's critique."
Robbins, P. (2011). Political ecology: A critical introduction, p.106.
On usefulness. To whom and for what purpose?:
"Assessing whether or not an environment is more or less useful as a result of human action is in many ways the most direct, practical, explicitly, and politically honest approach to measuring environmental destruction. ... Measurement of usefulness is, however, not altogether straightforward. Is land more useful when it is providing the highest return or providing the greatest collective benefit to a community? Is it achieving highest current return or lowering risk of future disaster? Is it measured in financial return or by some other criteria? Determination of an area's "appropriate" use is also explicitly political. ... turning forest into pasture or vice versa may be seen as degradation or improvement depending on the community and its resource use priorities."
Robbins, P. (2011). Political ecology: A critical introduction, p.110.
On all environments being "produced" by humans (and non-humans):
"the environments around us, including and especially those composed of non-humans, are clearly produced. Forests are produced as much as factories, polar ice sheets as much as reservoirs, Yellowstone's wilderness as much as a toxic dump. That human beings are by no means the only players in the production of these spaces makes them no less artificial (in the sens of "created"). ... Just because all environments are produced does not mean all environments are inevitable, desirable, just, or sustainable."
Robbins, P. (2011). Political ecology: A critical introduction, p.121.
On social conditions and dominant metaphors:
"Emerging during the high industrial age, the science of ecology came to depend heavily on metaphors and concepts from mechanical engineering, with orderly, cyclical, processes structured around balance and symmetry. ... Our scientific ideas of nature inevitably reflect the social conditions and dominant metaphors in which they were formed."
Robbins, P. (2011). Political ecology: A critical introduction, p.128-129.
On methodological problems "in the wild":
"Some days, individuals choose not to herd animals on public land to which they were entitled ... Why? Perhaps because of the proximity of the land to the house of someone to whom they owe money. Perhaps because they associated the area with some bad luck in the recent past, like a sprained ankle. Given the necessarily small sample of households and the large areas involved, separating individual motivations from more general patterns of response was extremely difficult, and sometimes frankly impossible.""
Robbins, P. (2011). Political ecology: A critical introduction, p.173.
On using ”sustainability” as a weapon against the disadvantaged:
"The conservation and control thesis: control of resources and landscapes has been wrested from local producers … through the implementation of efforts to preserve ”sustainability,” ”community,” or ”nature.” In the process, officials and global intrest seeking to preserve the ”environment” have disabled local systems of livelihood, production, and socio-political organization. … where local production practices have historically been productive and relatively benign, they have been characterized as unsustainable by state authorities or other players in the struggle to control resources."
Robbins, P. (2011). Political ecology: A critical introduction, p.178.
On using fire in agricultural practices:
"Just as fisheries have been made emblematic symbols for commons ”tragedies,” fire and its intentional use as a tool for land management has unjustly come to represent the ”irrationality” of traditional environmental practices. The use of fire, like the use of plowing, terracing, and fertilizing, is a fundamental agrarian tool for controlling and directing environmental change. People use fire to produce and maintain pasture, to turn cut plant material into nutrient mulch, to control invasive species and insects, to clear crop waste, to aid in irrigation management, and to encourage the growth of selected species. Though a target for control and elimination by governments and environmentalists, anthropogenic fire is a building block of land management for hundreds of millions of subsistence producers around the world."
Robbins, P. (2011). Political ecology: A critical introduction, p.185.
On conflicting ideas around nature – wild or otherwise: "The demography of this part of the United States [Nevada] has gone through tremendous upheaval in recent years, as amenity-seeking migrants, looking for quite exurban ”natural” settings far from the hectic urban regions of the east, have come to settle in areas long occupied by primary producers: farmers, ranchers, and timber harvesters. New settlers … bring their own expectations of how western landscapes are supposed to appear and to function, especially images of ”wild” nature, uninfluenced by human beings. These contrast starkly with the economics and ecological imaginaries of earlier residents, whose position in the economy is centered on production, and whose expectations of the landscape are associated with work, management, and ongoing tranforamtion."
Robbins, P. (2011). Political ecology: A critical introduction, p.206.
On fresh food as an artifact of industrial transportation:
"for a long time, nobody expected their food to be fresh. It was only with the advent of modern refrigeration, and especially the refrigerated train car, that people came into regular contact with vegetables, meats, and eggs that were edible, but which came from far away and were picked, slaughtered, or laid many days, weeks, or months in the past. Freshness isn’t natural. It is instead a product of capitalist transport, production, and processing. … What kinds of massive investments in energy, sanitation, and transport are required to produce freshness?"
Robbins, P. (2011). Political ecology: A critical introduction, p.231.
On Degrowth as a counter-hegemonic narrative:
"There is a failure, even by radical thinkers, to come up with new responses that are not articulated around the twin imperatives of growth and development. If the desire for growth causes economic, social, and environmental crises, as the authors in this volume argue it does, then growth cannot be the solution. Fortunately, alternatives are springing up on the ground. They range from new forms of living, producing, and consuming in common to new institutions that can secure the livelihoods of all without growth. However, more comprehensive counter-hegemonic narratives are necessary for articulating and connecting these new alternatives. We hope this book offers keywords for constructing such narratives."
D'Alisa, G., Demaria, F., & Kallis, G. (2014). Degrowth: a vocabulary for a new era, p.xx.
Further Growth can not logically lead to a just future for all:
"If we continue to uphold an unsustainable level of consumption in privileged areas of the globe - and even worse, continue to imagine that this level will grow in the future - we must also acknowledge that this "growth" can only come by means of "closure," of leaving out those for whom "there is not enough." Hence we witness the proliferation of gated communities, national borders closed for the poor of the world (and opened for the rich), and the internal closure of social groups with the development of the essentialist or racist discourses. These closures sustain, for the selected few, the present unsustainable ways of life that Western societies have grown accustomed to."
D'Alisa, G., Demaria, F., & Kallis, G. (2014). Degrowth: a vocabulary for a new era, p.xiv.
On "degrowth" as a taboo for traditional as well as radical economists:
"In the West, the idea of economic degrowth and of the construction of a society of sharing, frugality and conviviality continue to strengthen. Yet the vast majority still live in denial. This denial is reinforced by economists - the apostles of industrial modernity - by whom the question of degrowth remains largely ignored, if it is not a taboo. Witness the sharp reaction at the mention of the world "degrowth" in front of economists. In economics, the degrowth perspective is scarcely present, even among those economists who oppose capitalism or liberalism."
D'Alisa, G., Demaria, F., & Kallis, G. (2014). Degrowth: a vocabulary for a new era, p.xiv.
On degrowth, post-growth, sustainable development and steady-state economics:
"Today, degrowth faces two risks. The first is that it could lose its meaning and become a new version of how to consume and produce differently, omitting for example the inconvenient idea that degrowth is, also, about consuming and producing less, *much less*, at least in the wealthy regions of the world. The second risk is that degrowth could be put aside and its radical content watered down and subsumed within vaguer notions such as "post-growth," which, like sustainable development before it, leaves tactically open the possibility of "win-win" solutions. We are equally sceptical of the notion of the "steady-state," which focusses on the biophysical dimension and evades hard political and social questions."
D'Alisa, G., Demaria, F., & Kallis, G. (2014). Degrowth: a vocabulary for a new era, p.xxv.
On degrowthy ideas:
"Like or hate the term degrowth, you can't deny that it opens up all sorts of debates that were previously closed. ... The valuable contribution of this volume, the first of its kind in English, is that it clarifies some of the most important and difficult to comprehend concepts mobilized in the debates about degrowth. Anti-utilitarianism, capitalism, environmentalism, conviviality, Illich's critique of big institutions, new forms of wealth or happiness, buen-vivir, and concrete aspects of voluntarily simplicity, co-operaties, civil disobedience. The entries in this book are numerous and connected to one another, enabling the reader to become gradually more familiar with the key ideas associated with degrowth."
D'Alisa, G., Demaria, F., & Kallis, G. (2014). Degrowth: a vocabulary for a new era, p.xxv.
On the history of degrowth as an academic field of inquiry:
"*Décroissance*, as a movement of activists, flourished in Lyon in the early 2000s in the wake of protests for car-free cities, communal meals in the streets, food cooperatives and campaigns against advertising. ... in 2006 ... researcher-activist Francoise Schneider undertook a year-long walking tour on a donkey to disseminate degrowth through France, receiving widespread media coverage. In 2007, Schneider founded in France the academic collective Research & Degrowth ... and promoted a series of international conferences. The first was in Paris in 2008 and ... The English term 'degrowth' was 'officially' used for the first time at the Paris conference, marking the birth of an international research community. As the Barcelona group from the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology (ICTA) joined the movement by hosting the second conference, the degrowth research community extended beyond its initial strongholds in France and Italy."
D'Alisa, G., Demaria, F., & Kallis, G. (2014). Degrowth: a vocabulary for a new era, p.2-3.
On the degrowth movement's goals:
"Degrowth signifies, first and foremost, a critique of growth. It calls for the decolonization of public debate from the idiom of economism and for the abolishment of economic growth as a social objective. Beyond that, degrowth signifies also a desired direction, one in which societies will use fewer natural resources and will organize and live differently than today. 'Sharing', 'simplicity', 'conviviality', 'care' and the 'commons' are primarily significations of what this society might look like. Usually, degrowth is associated with the idea that smaller can be beautiful. Ecological economists define degrowth as an equitable downscaling of production and consumption that will reduce societies' throughput of energy and raw materials. However, our emphasis here is on *different*, not only *less*. ... Degrowth does not call for doing less of the same. The objective is not to make an elephant leaner, but to turn en elephant into a snail."
D'Alisa, G., Demaria, F., & Kallis, G. (2014). Degrowth: a vocabulary for a new era, p.3-4.
On 'degrowth' as an attack on the growth-oriented mindset:
"In the minds of most people, growth is still associated with an improvement, or well-being. Because of this, some progressive intellectuals take issue with the use of the word degrowth. ... However, the use of a negation for a positive project aims precisely to decolonise an imaginary dominated by a one-way future consisting only of growth. ... Degrowth is a deliberately subversive slogan. Of course some sectors, such as education, medical care, or renewable energy, will need to flourish in the future, while others, such as dirty industries or the financial sector shrink. The aggregate result will be degrowth. We prefer also to use words such as 'flourishing' when we talk about health or education, rather than 'growing' or 'developing'. The desired change is qualitative, like in the flourishing of the arts. It is not quantitative, like in the growth of industrial output. 'Development', even if it were to be cleaned of it s heavy historical meaning, or beautified with adjectives such as balanced, local or sustainable, is a problematic keyword. The word suggests an unfolding towards a predetermined end.
D'Alisa, G., Demaria, F., & Kallis, G. (2014). Degrowth: a vocabulary for a new era, p.5.
Growth is unjust:
"Growth is unjust, first, because it is subsidized and sustained by invisible reproductive work in the household. Feminist economics has shown that this work is gendered, with women doing most of it. Second, growth is unjust because it benefits from an unequal exchange of resources between core and periphery among, and within, nations. The energy and materials that fuel growth are extracted from commodity frontiers, often in indigenous or underdeveloped territories that suffer the impacts of extraction. Waste and pollutants end up in marginalized territories, communities or neighbourhoods of lower class or of different colour or ethnicity than the majority of the population. However, although growth is uneconomic and unjust, it may as well be sustained precisely because the benefits accrue to those who hold power and the costs are shifted to those who are marginalized."
D'Alisa, G., Demaria, F., & Kallis, G. (2014). Degrowth: a vocabulary for a new era, p.6.
On the social limits of growth:
"Above a certain level, growth does not increase happiness. This is because once basic material needs are satisfied, extra incomes are devoted increasingly to positional goods (e.g. a house bigger than the neighbour's). Relative, and not absolute, wealth determines access to positional goods. Everyone wants growth in order to raise his or her position, but as everyone rises together, no one gets better. This is a zero-sum game. Worse, growth makes positional goods more expensive. These are the social limits of growth [and ] Growth therefore will never produce "enough" for everyone."
D'Alisa, G., Demaria, F., & Kallis, G. (2014). Degrowth: a vocabulary for a new era, p.6-7.
On autonomy and convivial tools:
"For many degrowthers, degrowth is not an adaptation to inevitable limits, but a desirable project to be pursued for its own sake in the search for autonomy. Autonomy was a keyword for thinkers such as Illich, Gorz and Castoriadis, but it meant something slightly different to each. Illich (1973) meant freedom from large techno-infrastructures and the centralized bureaucratic institutions, public or private, that manage them. For Gorz (1982) autonomy is freedom from wage-labour. Autonomous is the sphere of non-paid work where individuals and collectives enjoy leisure and produce for their own use, instead of money. ... Following Illich, degrowthers take issue with fossil fuels not only because of peak oil or climate change, but because a high use of energy supports complex technological systems. Complex systems call for specialized experts and bureaucracies to manage them. They unavoidably lead to non-egalitarian and undemocratic hierarchies. Autonomy instead requires convivial tools, i.e. tools which are understandable, manageable and controllable by their users. An urban garden, a bicycle or a Do-It-Yourself Adobe house are convivial and autonomous."
D'Alisa, G., Demaria, F., & Kallis, G. (2014). Degrowth: a vocabulary for a new era, p.8.
On autonomy and limits:
"Rather than *limits to* growth, the literature on autonomy emphasizes collective *self-limitations*. Limits, or rather self-limitations, are not invoked for the good of nature or the avoid an impending disaster, but because living simply, and limiting our footprint upon the non-human world that we happen to live on, is how the good life is conceived. Not least, limits also liberate from the paralysis of unlimited choice. And only systems with limited scale can become genuinely egalitarian and democratic, as only they can be governed directly by their users."
D'Alisa, G., Demaria, F., & Kallis, G. (2014). Degrowth: a vocabulary for a new era, p.8.
Unproductiveness as environmentally beneficial?:
"as conventional institutions fail to secure the basic needs of people, there is a spontaneous proliferation of new non-capitalist practices and institutions, in places like Argentina, Greece, or Catalonia ... They are ... example of degrowth ... They have less carbon content and material throughput when compared to the State or market systems offering the same service. True, per unit of product they might be more inefficient due to a lower degree of specialization and division of labour. An alternative organic food network, for example, might require more workers per unit of product than an agri-business (though also less fertilizers, pesticides and fossil fuels). This is not necessarily bad as far as unemployment is concerned. Decentralized cooperative systems ... might provide less ... output per unit of labour and resource input. However, they are likely to be more environmentally benign precisely because their unproductiveness limits their scale (an inverse Jevons' effect)"
D'Alisa, G., Demaria, F., & Kallis, G. (2014). Degrowth: a vocabulary for a new era, p.11-12.
On development, developed and un-/underdeveloped countries:
"It is impossible to provide a single definition of development. for many, development is the ineluctable strategy by which poor countries need to modernize; for others, it is an imperial imposition by the rich capitalist countries on the poor ones, and as such it should be opposed; and yet for others, it is a discourse invented by the West for the cultural domination of non-Western societies that needs to be denounced as such, beyond its economic effects; for many common people the world over, finally, development has become either a reflection of their aspirations to a dignified life, or an utterly destructive process with which they have to coexist, and not infrequently at the same time.""
D'Alisa, G., Demaria, F., & Kallis, G. (2014). Degrowth: a vocabulary for a new era, p.29.
On the history of "development":
"The concept of development did not exist in its current connotations until the late 1940s, when "economic development" became associated with the process characterizing industrialized nations ... The genesis of the concept can be traced back to the late colonial period in some contexts ... as an explicit and often planned process for the eradication of poverty. ... "Development" and the "Third World" were thus the product of the same historical conjuncture, with development as the strategy par excellence to bring about the modernization of the so-called Third World. ... the "developmentalist fallacy" ... asserts that all countries have to travel the same historical stages, if necessary by force."
D'Alisa, G., Demaria, F., & Kallis, G. (2014). Degrowth: a vocabulary for a new era, p.29-30.
On environmental justice:
"Since the 1980s, an extensive literature in sociology, environmental policy, and environmental health has examined inequities between groups in exposure to contamination and health risks from waste sites, incinerators, refineries, transportation, and small-area sources. Exposure to harm and risk also exists in the workplace as farm or chain employees, for instance, are obliged to be in close contact with pesticides and hazardous waste. Similarly, in the Global South, mercury spills from gold mines, open cast copper and coal mining, oil and timber extraction, deforestation and erosion from mono-culture farming, and hydroelectric dams are devastating millions of hectares and disrupting poor residents' health. In addition, tons of toxic waste from industry, agriculture and electronic products, and ships to be dismantled, are also being exported to poorer countries."
D'Alisa, G., Demaria, F., & Kallis, G. (2014). Degrowth: a vocabulary for a new era, p.34.
On the economic value of ecosystems services:
"The world conservation movement has been increasingly drawn to an economic language. Although many of its members claim to believe in "deep ecology" (the intrinsic value of nature) and revere nature as sacred, the mainstream movement decided to join the economists. The TEEB reports ("The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity"...) in 2008-11, published under the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)'s auspices, follows this leitmotiv: to make the loss of biodiversity visible, we need to focus not on single species but on ecosystems, and then on ecosystem services to humans, and finally we must give economic valuations to such services because this is what will attract the attention of politicians and business leaders towards conservation. The TEEB enthusiastically praises mining corporation Rio Tinto's principle of "net positive impact".
D'Alisa, G., Demaria, F., & Kallis, G. (2014). Degrowth: a vocabulary for a new era, p.37-38.
Energy quality and human working hours:
"it is important to note that current societal functions (service and government, production of food etc.) and their associated metabolic patterns (joules of fossil fuels used for the maintenance of the health system, the hours of human activity used for producing a certain quantity of food) are based on the exploitation of fossil fuels as a principal energy source. ... modern societies have been able to achieve their current level of complexity with the surplus of time that cheap sources of energy yield. However, as we reach peak oil, a switch to lower quality energy alternatives directly implies a dramatic requirement for an increase in the amount of energy, labor, and technical capital diverted to energy production itself ... in order to sustain he metabolic patterns of societies and the complex structures they have attained. To meet the requirements of socio-economic systems such as the contemporary ones in the Global North ... it is likely that more workers and more working hours will be required to maintain the current metabolic patterns of societies. ... In a future scarce in energy we will have to work more, not less."
D'Alisa, G., Demaria, F., & Kallis, G. (2014). Degrowth: a vocabulary for a new era, p.43.
On material comforts breeding dependence:
"Freedom and individual subjectivity appear at odds with material comforts offered by modern technology and a consumer society … Capitalism and consumer culture produce an acceptant populace, uncritical of elements and decisions made by others. This concerns initially trivial things – material aspects, organizational, and technical – but gradually it involves the acceptance of patterns of behaviour and social meanings that underlie the materialism. … many believe that the only answer to the socio-ecological crisis lies in technology. Yet the more we rely on external tools for solutions, the less we trust changes we implement independently as part of our subjective choices adherent to our values. Modern society threatens individual autonomy through addiction and dependence on goods and convenience.”
Deriu, M. (2014). Autonomy. In D'Alisa, G., Demaria, F., & Kallis, G. (eds.). Degrowth: a vocabulary for a new era, p.56.
On the effects of commodification:
"The reach of markets into aspects of life traditionally governed by nonmarket values and norms is one of the most significant developments of our time. The notion of commodification describes this phenomenon and can be defined as the symbolic, discursive and institutional changes through which a good or service that was not previously meant for sale enters the sphere of money and market exchange. Commodification has been often criticized on the grounds that some things ought neither to be for sale nor governed through the market logic. Much of the controversy stems from the historically grounded observation that commodification transforms the values that govern the relationship between people and between people and nature as these adopt the form of market transactions."
Deriu, M. (2014). Autonomy. In D'Alisa, G., Demaria, F., & Kallis, G. (eds.). Degrowth: a vocabulary for a new era, p.56.
"The reach of markets into aspects of life traditionally governed by nonmarket values and norms is one of the most significant developments of our time. The notion of commodification describes this phenomenon and can be defined as the symbolic, discursive and institutional changes through which a good or service that was not previously meant for sale enters the sphere of money and market exchange. Commodification has been often criticized on the grounds that some things ought neither to be for sale nor goverened through the market logic. Much of the controversy stems from the historically grounded observation that commodificaiton transforms the values that goven the relationshp between people and between people and nature as these adopt the form of market transactions."
Gómez-Baggehun. (2014). Commodification. In D'Alisa, G., Demaria, F., & Kallis, G. (eds.). Degrowth: a vocabulary for a new era, p.67.
On commodity frontiers:
"commodity frontiers reminds us that growth comes at a high cost to people far from the location in which it is delivered. The commodities that supply our growing global economy come from particular places, where people live and whose lives are transformed at a high social and environmental cost in immensurable ways. … the social and environmental impacts of extracting resources are increasing as the quality and availability of resources decreases. In the case of mining, a much larger amount of waste and pollution is generated today to obtain the same quantity of metal ores than was generated a decade ago. The question is no longer whether there are available resources but rather what the social and environmental cost will be if they continue to be extracted."
Conde, M. & Walter, M. (2014). Commodity frontiers. In D'Alisa, G., Demaria, F., & Kallis, G. (eds.). Degrowth: a vocabulary for a new era, p.73.
On ”commons” as a process, not a thing:
"commons are essentially invisible. They generally are not based on money, legal contracts, or bureaucratic fiat, but on self-management and shared responsibility. … It is more accurate to talk about ”commoning” or ”making the commons” than ”the commons” as a thing.”
Helfrich, S. & Bollier, D. (2014). Commons. In D'Alisa, G., Demaria, F., & Kallis, G. (eds.). Degrowth: a vocabulary for a new era, p.75.
"the tool is convivial if it can be used and adapted with ease and for a purpose chosen by the individual, and if it has the result of expanding freedom, autonomy and human creativity. … Consider … the computer and the Internet – would they be considered convivial according to [theorist Ivan] Illich? In his work *Tools for Conviviality* (1973), Illich views the computer [and] information technologies as controversial. … He emphasizes his fear that humans may become more and more dependent on computers in order to talk and think”
Deriu, M. (2014). Conviviality. In D'Alisa, G., Demaria, F., & Kallis, G. (eds.). Degrowth: a vocabulary for a new era, p.80.
"In a world of 9 billion people all aspiring to Western lifestyles, the carbon intensity of every dollar of output must be at least 130 times lower in 2050 than it is today if we are to stay within the 350 ppm limit that scientists claim is necessary for avoiding dangerous climate change. … Slight adjustments within the system will not be enough to foster the radical reductions in the use of materials and carbon that are necessary … for staying within Earth’s safe capacity. Dematerialization is unlikely in an economy that continues to grow."
Lorek, S. (2014). Dematerialization. In D'Alisa, G., Demaria, F., & Kallis, G. (eds.). Degrowth: a vocabulary for a new era, p.85.
"Energy consumption consists of two parts. The first is necessary for the conservation and the reproduction of life. The second is used for non-productive expenditures … mere biological sustenance can be achieved spending only a minuscule portion of the total amount of available energy. … it is the sovereign employment of excess energy that qualifies us as ”humans.” The different patterns of excess energy use characterize and distinguish different types of societies across space and time. Excess can be spent on sacrifice or festival, in war or in peace. … In this sense, excess energy … forces human beings to question the mening of life and their path in the world.”
Romano, O. (2014). Dépense. In D'Alisa, G., Demaria, F., & Kallis, G. (eds.). Degrowth: a vocabulary for a new era, p.86-87.
On unaccounted-for natural capital:
"Odum (1988, 1996) identified natural capital and ecosystem services as the real source of wealth, in alternative to and complement of the common belief that only labor and economic capital can be such a source. Traditional energy or economic analyses usually don’t take into account inputs they cannot evaluate on a monetary or energy basis. Only monetary values are recognized by the market, but economies rely upon very large inputs from environment: if these inputs are not considered and given an appropriate value, misuse of resources can follow and future prospects for the system cannot be inferred."
Ulgiati, S. (2014). Emergy. In D'Alisa, G., Demaria, F., & Kallis, G. (eds.). Degrowth: a vocabulary for a new era, p.101.
On GDP as inherently political:
"If more families go through costly divorce proceedings, the money spent contributes to GDP. War, crime, and environmental destruction all contribute to our main indicator of national progress. It is a calculator with a giant ”plus” button, but no ”minus” button. … At the same time, GDP does not count many beneficial activities, such as household or volunteer work, because no money changes hands. … A further problem is that GDP provides no information on income distribution. Even if GDP per capita goes up, the average person may be no better off … Fioramonti argues that GDP is not just a number, but a way of organizing society based on the idea that markets are the only producers of wealth. To challenge GDP is therefore to challenge the market economy itself. If this is true, then replacing GDP is fundamentally a political project, not a technical one.”
O’Neill, D. (2014). Gross domestic product. In D'Alisa, G., Demaria, F., & Kallis, G. (eds.). Degrowth: a vocabulary for a new era, p.104-105.
On GDP growth as a flawed objective:"Rather than real increases in production, GDP rises because commercialization and commodification replace more traditional practices. Similarly, increases in GDP may be at the expense of resource depletion and environmental contamination, neither aspect being captured in the conventional measure of economic growth. … by pursuing economic growth as a primary policy objective, economies may well be failing to meet other objectives that would contribute more directly to well-being and prosperity such as full employment, more leisure, richer social lives, greater democratic participation and a resilient environment. Second, in an ecologically and resource constrained world, the pursuit of economic growth in rich countries is likely to be at the expense of economic growth in developing countries where its benefits are more apparent."
Victor, P. (2014). Growth. In D'Alisa, G., Demaria, F., & Kallis, G. (eds.). Degrowth: a vocabulary for a new era, p.111-112.
On Jevon’s paradox:"In the heyday of the Industrial Revolution ... William Stanley Jevons … derived the general claim that technological change which increases the efficiency with which a resource is used increase rather than decreases the rate of consumption of that resource. This claim was later exemplified by electric lighting, where a hundredfold decrease in the amount of electricity needed for a lumen spawned a thousand-fold increase in the amount of electricity used for lumens to light buildings and streets.”
Alcott, B. (2014). Jevons’ paradox (rebound effect). In D'Alisa, G., Demaria, F., & Kallis, G. (eds.). Degrowth: a vocabulary for a new era, p.121.
On socially sustainable degrowth paths:"resource peaks highlight the fact that human society has reached important biophysical limitations. Economic degrowth from this perspective is no longer an option, but a reality. The challenge for the degrowth movement is to help develop a path towards a post-carbon society that is socially sustainable."
Kerschner, C. (2014). Peak-Oil. In D'Alisa, G., Demaria, F., & Kallis, G. (eds.). Degrowth: a vocabulary for a new era, p.131.
On financial civil disobedience:"In the emblematic case of Catalan degrowth activist Enric Duran, acts of ”financial civil disobedience” were directly aimed at sponsoring degrowth. Duran openly ”expropriated” (in his own words) 492,000 euros from 39 banks, drawing attention to the unsustainable Spanish credit and banking system, just before the crisis imploded in 2008. Duran, who used the money to fund alternative movements and projects, including many related to degrowth, declared that he had no intention to repay the debt and was prepared to face the consequences and go to jail.”
Renou, X. (2014). Disobedience. In D'Alisa, G., Demaria, F., & Kallis, G. (eds.). Degrowth: a vocabulary for a new era, p.163.
On the Occupy movement:"The Indignados or Occupy movement is an ongoing social movement that began in 2011 in many different countries to protest against austerity policies, high rates of unemployment, worsening trends of social inequalities, and the collusion of government politics with the interest of corporate and financial capitalism, while campaigning for ”real” democracy and social justice."
Asara, V. & Muraca, B. (2014). Indignados (Occupy). In D'Alisa, G., Demaria, F., & Kallis, G. (eds.). Degrowth: a vocabulary for a new era, p.169.
On the growth dynamic of the money system:
”Effectively, the money supply in modern economies has been privatised and is issued on a commercial basis. … money issued through the banking system is always issued as debt; that is, the money must be returned, with interest, to the issuing bank. This creates a huge growth dynamic. If nearly all money is issued as loans that have to be repaid with interest, the money supply has to be constantly expanded through the issue of new debt. If the willingness of the banks to lend, or people to borrow, ceases then the money supply breasks down.”
Mellor, M. (2014). Money, Public. In D'Alisa, G., Demaria, F., & Kallis, G. (eds.). Degrowth: a vocabulary for a new era, p.175-176.
On the functions of desirable economic systems:
"rather than starting from the assumption of growth, perhaps we should start by identifying what we want a sustainable economy to look and behave like. Clearly, some form of stability – or resilience – matters. Economies that collapse threaten human flourishing immediately. We know that equality matters. Unequal societies drive unproductive status competition … and undermine wellbeing not only directly but also by eroding our sense of shared citizenship."
Jackson, T. (2014). New economy. In D'Alisa, G., Demaria, F., & Kallis, G. (eds.). Degrowth: a vocabulary for a new era, p.179.