Ecocide And Globalization

1. Cited in Worldwatch, "Subsidies for Sacred Cows," World Watch Magazine 9 (1) (January/February) (1996): pp. 8-9.

2. David Goldblatt, Social Theory and the Environment (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1996), p. 199.

3. Political scientist Manfred Steger summarizes the five central ideological claims of globalism as follows: (1) globalization is about the liberalization and global integration of markets; (2) globalization is inevitable and irreversible; (3) nobody is in charge of globalization; (4) globalization benefits everyone; (5) globalization furthers the spread of democracy in the world. See Manfred B. Steger, Globalism: The New Market Ideology (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2001).

4. Richard A. Falk, Predatory Globalization: A Critique (Malden, MA: Polity Press, 1999), Held et al., Global Transformations: Politics, Economics and Culture, Roland Robertson, Globalization: Social Theory and Global Culture (London: Sage, 1992), Jan Aart Scholte, Globalization: A Critical Introduction (London: Macmillan; New York: St Martin's Press, 2000), Malcolm Waters, Globalization, Key Ideas (London and New York: Routledge, 1995).

5. David C. Korten, Rights of Money Versus Rights of Living Person, People-Centered Development Forum (PCDF) ([Online, available: 82korten.htm], 1996).

6. Jeff Pooley, The Globalization of Oppression: Multilateral Corporations and the Failure of Democracy ([Online, available: 1995/nov/democ.html], 1995).

7. UNRISD (United Nations Research Institute for Social Development), States of Disarray: The Social Effects of Globalization (London: UNRISD, 1995).

8. Neo-liberalism dates back to the liberal economic theory of the nineteenth century, which demanded far-reaching restrictions on the activities of the state in economic matters. Also known as laissez-faire and laissez-passer, it is based on the conviction that humans are active chiefly in their own interests and that there are natural rules which create harmony through the operation of the "invisible hand" of the market. If individuals were left to themselves to pursue their interests (producing, buying, and selling) then everyone would profit from the result. The laws of supply and demand would ensure the best allocation of results. The laws of supply and demand would ensure the best use of capital and labor. Historically, economic laissez-faire was an expression of a new form of individualism geared to industry, which in the sixteenth century turned against church and state interference in the economy and trade.

9. See Noam Chomsky, Neo-liberalism and Global Order: Doctrine and Reality ([Online, available:], 1998).

10. To define civil society in this context simply as the third sector between state and market is a misleading overestimation. It would be closer to reality to speak of a mouse as the third actor between the corporate market tiger and the state rhinoceros.

11. Franz J. Broswimmer, "Botanical Imperialism: The Stewardship of Plantgenetic Resources in the Third World," Critical Sociology 18(1) (Spring) (1991), Jack Kloppenburg Jr, "Biotechnology to the Rescue? Twelve Reasons Why Biotechnology Is Incompatible with Sustainable Agriculture," The Ecologist 26(2) (1996), Brewster Kneen, Farmageddon: Food and the Culture of Biotechnology (Gabriola Island, BC: New Society, 1999), Marc Lappe and Britt Bailey, Against the Grain: The Genetic Transformation of Global Agriculture (London: Earthscan, 1999).

12. Foster, The Vulnerable Planet: A Short History of the Environment.

13. Ernest Mandel, Late Capitalism, trans. Joris de Bres (London: NLB, 1975).

14. John Tuxill, Losing Strands in the Web of Life: Vertebrate Declines and the Conservation of Biodiversity, ed. Jane A. Peterson, Worldwatch Paper 141 (Washington, DC: Worldwatch Institute, 1998), p. 68. NB: The debt of all developing countries in 1971 was US $277 billion. By 1997, the amount of money required just to service the US $3.171 billion debt of all developing countries amounted to US $269 billion (Lester Brown et al., Vital Signs 1999 [New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1999]. See also World Watch, "Matters of Scale: Earth Day, Thirty Years Later," World Watch [13]2 [March/April] [2000], 25).

15. Annan et al., eds, State of the World 2002.

16. Robert Weissman, "Corporate Plundering of Third World Resources," in Toxic Struggles: The Theory and Practice of Environmental Justice, ed. Richard Hofrichter (Philadelphia, PA: New Society Publisher, 1993), p. 187.

17. Walden Bello, "Global Economic Counterrevolution: The Dynamics of Impoverishment and Marginalization," in Hofrichter, ed., Toxic Struggles: The Theory and Practice of Environmental Justice, p. 203.

18. David Chance, "One Quarter of the World Lives on Less Than a Dollar," Reuter News Agency Updated 1:19 PM ET August 1 (2000).

19. See WRI (World Resources Institute) World Resources 1990-1991 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990), WRI, World Resources 1992-1993 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992).

20. Bello, "Global Economic Counterrevolution: The Dynamics of Impoverishment and Marginalization," p. 203.

21. Cited in ibid.

25. The amount that Indonesia received in 1990 for timber concessions, many of which were sold to wealthy timber magnates with close ties to President Suharto, was US $416 million. The amount by which the actual world-market value exceeded the price charged, and by which Indonesian taxpayers were therefore forced to subsidize the magnate's windfall, was US $2.1 billion (Worldwatch, "Matters of Scale: Subsidies: The Other Side of the Coin," World Watch 10[2] [March/April 2000], p. 39). But this captures merely the tip of the iceberg. Credible estimates of illegal logging in Indonesia for example suggested that 70 per cent of timber supplied to the processing sector came from illegal logging. This means that 70 per cent of the industry avoided taxes and tariffs while uncontrolledly denuding vast tracts of land. A European Union-funded global study during the late 1990s resulted in a devastating report about the destruction of tropical forests by multinational companies who bribed and bullied their way to lucrative logging concessions. The study blamed, in particular, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank for inducing countries to sell their forests for a quick cash return to pay off debts to Western countries. Well-respected authors from the World Resources Institute (WRI) and WWF were so disturbed by what they found that they recommended a moratorium on all further logging in eleven countries - Cameroon, Gabon, Congo (Brazzaville), Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, and the Democratic Republic of Congo in central Africa; Belize, Surinam, and Guyana in the Caribbean rim; and Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific rim. This moratorium, they said, should last until bribery scandals had been investigated and proper environmental standards enforced. Nigel Sizer and Dominiquek Plouvier, "Increased Investment and Trade by Transnational Logging Companies in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific: Implications for the Sustainable Management and Conservation of Tropical Forests," in A Joint Report by World Wide Fund for Nature and Belgium World Resources Institute's Forest Frontiers Initiative (Brussels: European Commission EC-Project B7-6201/96-16/VIII/FOR D/1999/6732/03, 2000).

26. Weissman, "Corporate Plundering of Third World Resources," pp. 188-9.

2 7. May Lee, Land-Clearing Fires Foul Malaysia's Air (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: [Online, available:], 1997).

28. Mike Davis, "The Unknown Wallace," Capitalism, Nature, Socialism 9(1) (March) (1998), p. 77. NB: As satellite photographs reconfirmed, in contradiction to government reports, the main source of forest fires (some 80 per cent) in Indonesia in 1997 (some 80 per cent) came from large industrial plantation clearings, while only a small part of the human-caused fires (some 20 per cent) originated from traditional slash-and-burn subsistence farmers. Jefferson Fox, "Indonesia: The Truth Behind the Haze; Government Land Policies Promote Burning; Fires: They Sent the Message that Something is Amiss," The Honolulu Advertiser Sunday, December 21 (1997).

29. Kidnapping and massive forest destruction in Indonesia (especially Sumatra and Borneo) and Malaysia have killed more than 30,000 orangutans in the last ten years alone. Today, fewer than 30,000 orangutans survive. Unless the species' habitat can be preserved, it risks extinction. WWF (World Wildlife Fund), Rain Forests on Fire: Conservation Consequences (Washington, DC: World Wildlife Fund, 1997).

30. Ashley T. Mattoon, "Bogging Down the Sinks," Worldwatch 11(6) (November/December 1998), pp. 32-3.

31. WWF, Rain Forests on Fire: Conservation Consequences. NB: The year 1997 saw some of the worst forest fires in human history. Indonesia lost 247,000 acres of virgin tropical rain forest, much of which had probably never burned before (80 per cent of these fires were caused by a neo-patrimonial oligarchy of billionaire palm-oil plantation owners and associated investors). Brazil's burning season swallowed 5 million acres of forest. Overall, more than 12 million acres of land went up in flames in an area roughly the size of Costa Rica. In 1998, again vast stretches of tropical forest were reduced to charcoal. Another 9.6 million acres were lost in Brazil. To the north, fires raged here and there through central America, and up into the highland "cloud forests" of southern Mexico, one of the last places in that country where it was still possible to find the quetzals, jaguars, and other species that have shaped thousands of years of indigenous culture. During the 1980s, the last time an estimate was made, the fires and other forms of deforestation were releasing around 1.4 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere annually. Deforestation accounts for roughly one-fifth of humanity's annual emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), the primary greenhouse gas. See Mattoon, "Bogging Down the Sinks," p. 30.

32. Between 1950 and 1997, the global economy expanded from an annual output of US $5 trillion to US $29 trillion, an increase of nearly six-fold. Growth from 1990 to 1997 alone exceeded that during the 10,000 years from the beginning of agriculture until 1950. Worldwatch, "Overshoot: Building a New Economy - the Challenge for Our Generation," State of the World 1998; Worldwatch Press Release, January 10 1998.

3 3. World Commission on Environment and Development, Our Common Future (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 1987).

34. Catton, Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change.

35. An environment's "carrying capacity" is its maximum persistently supportable load.

36. Hanson and Hanson, Brain Food: Requiem, Wackernagel and Rees, Our Ecological Footprint: Reducing Human Impact on the Earth. See also William E. Rees, "Revisiting Carrying Capacity: Area-Based Indicators of Sustainability," University of British Columbia, at and "Ecological Footprints of Nations," at See also:

37. Jay Hanson, The Introduction, Increase, and Crash of Reindeer on St Mathew's Island, Brain Food: Reindeer Politics ([Online, available: page80.htm], 1997).

38. See Convention on Biological Diversity. (Online, available: index.html) reviewed March 2001.

39. The WHO estimate of 3 billion malnourished includes people who are calorie-, protein-, vitamin-, iron-, and iodine-malnourished. As the human population continues to increase, the number of malnourished could conceivably reach more than 5 billion in future decades. WHO, "Micronutrient Malnutrition: Half the World's Population Affected," World Health Organization 78 (November 13) (1996).

40. ÜCS (Union of Concerned Scientists), "U.S. Consumption and the Environment," Union of Concerned Scientists Briefing Paper (ÜCS Publication Department, Washington, DC) (1994), pp. 1-6.

43. Galbraith believes the economy is a kind of treadmill, designed by business interests to keep people working and consuming, regardless of what they might want if they were left to their own devices. Given this vision of the artificiality of "affluence" in Western societies, he is naturally distressed by the existence of what he sees as equally artificial poverty. John Kenneth Galbraith, "How to Get the Poor Off Our Conscience," Harpers Magazine November (1985), John Kenneth Galbraith, The New Industrial State, 2nd rev. edn (New York: Mentor Books, 1967).

44. John Bellamy Foster, "Global Ecology and the Common Good," Monthly Review 46(9) (February) (1995), p. 2.

45. Lewis Carroll and Mervyn Laurence Peake, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and through the Looking Glass (New York: Schocken Books, 1979).

46. Foster, "Global Ecology and the Common Good," p. 4.

47. Institutionalized forms of waste and planned obsolescence are an intrinsic part of the contemporary global treadmill economy, where some people do not have enough income and some have a lot of "discretionary" income. In order to keep machines running, it is necessary to generate demand in the second group. One way to do this is to design products to wear out fast. People then will have to buy more light bulbs, cars, toasters, or TVs than they really need. Another way is to promote fashions in cars, clothes, houses, or appliances. A third way is to generate demand for useless products or for products that use a lot of resources to save a little labor, such as electric knives, toothbrushes, fingernail files, or can openers. The drug industry has been known to create "illnesses" in order to generate a public. A better way to organize production is on the basis of need rather than profit within the limits of ecological integrity.

48. Peter Schmid-Schreiber, "Wie Viele Tötliche Dosen Lassen Sie Erbrüten, Nachbar.?," Presse Spiegel der Initiative Österreichischer Atomkraftwerksgegner 2 (February), Pressespiegelgruppe der IOEAG, Wien/Vienna (1993).

49. Foster, "Global Ecology and the Common Good," p. 4.

50. Ibid., Petra Kelly, Fighting for Hope, trans. Marianne Wowarth (Boston and London: South End Press and Chatto & Windus, 1984).

51. C.W. Mills, The Power Elite (New York: Oxford University Press, 1956).

52. Robert D. Putnam, Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2000).

53. Kelly, Fighting for Hope.

54. Mark Achbar and Peter Wintonick, eds, Manufacturing of Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media, Necessary Illusions, a Zeitgeist Film Release (Montreal: National Filmboard of Canada, 1993), Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis, Democracy and Capitalism: Property, Community, and the Contradictions of Modern Social Thought (New York: Basic Books, 1986), Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis, Schooling in Capitalist America: Educational Reform and the Contradictions of Economic Life (New York: Gintis Books, 1976), Allan Schnaiberg, Educating for an Ecologically Sustainable Culture: Rethinking Moral Education, Creativity, Intelligence, and Other Modern Orthodoxies (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1995), Allan Schnaiberg, The Environment: From Surplus to Scarcity (New York: Oxford University Press, 1980).

55. Noam Chomsky, "Studying the Media: What Makes the Mainstream Media Mainstream," The Chomsky Archives June (1997).

56. Ulrich Beck, Ecological Enlightenment: Essays on the Politics of the Risk Society, trans. Mark A. Ritter (New Jersey: Humanities Press, 1995).

57. Schnaiberg, Educating for an Ecologically Sustainable Culture: Rethinking Moral Education, Creativity, Intelligence, and Other Modern Orthodoxies, Allan Schnaiberg, Education, Cultural Myths, and the Ecological Crisis: Towards Deep Changes (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1993), Schnaiberg, The Environment: From Surplus to Scarcity.

58. Allan Schnaiberg, "Environmental Education," Environment, Technology and Society ([Online, available:], 1996).

59. Mass media are owned and operated by large corporate conglomerates. Populations suffering the primary consequences of environmental degeneration, mass extinction of species, and the depletion of resources are not often in the news. Headlines abound regarding contaminated drinking water, leaking landfills, and violations of federal regulations. But because these items are disconnected from larger issues, the public receives only limited analysis of the historical, political, and social determinants of environmental conditions. Sometimes the media attribute these problems to the natural and avoidable consequences of life in modern society. Media language and imagery present environmental crisis as a physical problem of technological failure, regulatory failure, overpopulation, individual ignorance, or careless behavior. Opponents are categorized as "special interests" or "extremists." Rarely do media reports make connections to a broad definition of environment that includes issues of civil rights, housing, employment, the quality of life, or the policies of global corporations. Moreover, presentations of environmental issues often divert the public's attention from their relation to social and ecological injustices. Corporate appropriation of green symbols, particularly in advertisements, tends to exacerbate the shallow, sporadic coverage offered by the media. Much literature and television programming provide a great deal of advice about how individuals can protect the environment through various personal actions. Even as it assuages our conscience and offers feelings of efficacy, emphasis on individual behavior diverts attention from political power to institutional failures.

60. Foster, The Vulnerable Planet: A Short History of the Environment, Kelly, Fighting for Hope.

61. As used here, critique is not (merely) criticism of ecocidal practices, but the effort to lay bare the associated presuppositions of beliefs, practices, and the like.

62. Oneofthe characteristic historical features ofcapitalism as a form of social organization is the "disembedding" ofthe market economyfromsociety, resulting in national and international division of labor structures that are systematically loaded against those who suffer, like playing chess on a tilting board having only pawns, no other pieces. What is needed to halt, or even to slow, progressive ecocide is incompatible with the contemporary market organization ofthe global economy, because the essence of a neo-liberal market economy is of course precisely the lack of democratic planning - indeed its single-minded focus on individual pursuits and profit.

63. In Fotopoulos's Inclusive Democracy: The Crisis of the Growth Economy and the Need for a New Liberatory Project, the subtitle sums up its thesis. The primary flaw in a growth economy, according to Fotopoulos, is concentrated power. Under capitalism such power is primarily economic; under socialism it is political. But in both cases the very concentration of power contradicts the fundamental premise of democracy, which is, above all, the diffusion of power. The solution offered is a "confederal inclusive democracy" - a mixture of political strategies, continually readjusted to maintain a wide distribution of power in all aspects of the citizens' lives. See Takis Fotopoulos, "Development or Democracy?," Society and Nature 7 (1997), p. 82, Takis

Fotopoulos, Towards an Inclusive Democracy: The Crisis of the Growth Economy and the Need for a New Liberatory Project (New York: Cassell, 1996).

64. World Commission on Environment and Development, Our Common Future.

65. William Greider, One World, Ready or Not: The Manic Logic of Global Capitalism (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997).

66. Speech on behalf of the environment and development NGOs at the UNCED Plenary, presented on their behalf by Wangari Maathai, June 11 1992. Cited in Athanasiou, Divided Planet: The Ecology of Rich and Poor.

67. See David Korten, When Corporations Rule the World (West Hartford, CT: Kumarin Press, 1995), Korten, Rights of Money Versus Rights of Living Person.

68. P.R. Ehrlich, G.C. Daily, and L.H. Goulder, "Population Growth, Economic Growth, and Market Economies," Contention 2 (1992).

69. The global "Net Primary Production of Photosynthesis" (NPP) for example cannot be expanded nor owned. Worldwide, more than 40 per cent of terrestrial net primary productivity (of the ecosystem) is currently used directly, co-opted, or forgone because of human activities (a figure projected to double this century). If this figure is even approximately correct, we are in big trouble, because the global "net primary production of photosynthesis" (NPP) (the human appropriation of the net products of photosynthesis) cannot be expanded. What would the planet be like if humans, instead of co-opting 40 per cent, took 80 per cent.? 100 per cent? See Meadows et al., Beyond the Limits: Confronting Global Collapse; Envisioning a Sustainable Future, Vitousek, Ehrlich, and Mason, "Human Appropriation of the Products of Photosynthesis," Wackernagel and Rees, Our Ecological Footprint: Reducing Human Impact on the Earth.

70. Anthony Giddens, Director, London School of Economics, quoted in the New Statesman, October 31 1997.

71. John O'Neill, "Cost-Benefit Analysis, Rationality and the Plurality of Values," The Ecologist 26(3) (May/June) (1996), p. 102.

73. In Aristotle's philosophical system theory follows empirical observation, and logic, based on the syllogism, is the essential method of rational inquiry.

74. O'Neill, "Cost-Benefit Analysis, Rationality and the Plurality of Values," p. 102.

75. Immanuel Kant, "An Answer to the Question 'What Is Enlightenment?'" in Political Writings, ed. H. Reiss (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991).

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