Social-ecologyDr. Éloi LAURENT (OFCE/FNSP, Stanford U)firstname.lastname@example.orgSustainable prosperityUniversity of Ottawa, 19 April 2011.
Outline The ideas in the book; Acceleration of ecological time/Human domination on Earth; The illusions of the “Environmental Kuznets curve”; Poverty as an ecological curse; Inequality and ecological crises; The era of environmental inequalities; The era of social-ecological disasters ; Why green dictatorship is not the answer; Four political paths.
The ideas in the book The “guilt/responsibility paradox”; Ecological crises are accelerating and mankind is rightly indicted in this process: “Global anthropogenic Environmental Change”; Yet fatalism is simultaneously growing about the human capacity to resolve these crises: we are guilty but not responsible; Thesis of the book: ecological crises really are social issues, we have to look into the reason for the human success on Earth – social cooperation that promotes collective intelligence – to find causes and solutions to our environmental crises ; Causes: unsustainable inequalities; solution: more democracy;
The ideas in the book Analytical consequence: social sciences hold the key to the issues revealed by hard sciences; “social-ecology” as a new way of thinking about our precarious world; Political consequence: it is by embedding ecological issues in social ones that we can reconcile citizens with ecology and avoid the illusion of the environmental- social trade-off: social-ecology as a new political horizon;
The ideas in the book Alternative analysis: matters of distribution, equality or democracy are secondary when one considers the pathological economic development of our societies based on an irrepressible propensity to innovate and a political economy of capitalism that condemns us to ecological over-consumption; But technical progress or economic development alone are neither the sole cause, nor the unambiguous solution to our problems: the key is the principle of justice; We must not only change our technological model or growth strategy, but our model of society.
The acceleration of ecological time Earth created 4.5 bn years ago; life on earth: 3.5bn (extra- terrestrial); Manlike creatures appear on earth: 7 mil years ago (mammals thrive because Dinosaurs die 65m BC, again extra-terrestrial intervention!); Homo sapiens sapiens appear: - 200 000; Agriculture is developed: - 10 000 BC; Industrial revolution: 1820; Industrial growth: 1950. Acceleration of human domination on Earth and of life on Earth that has been going one for two centuries. 1969: landing on the moon/”discovery” of the vulnerability of the Earth.
Human Domination of Earths Ecosystems and the Anthropocene Peter Vitousek et al. 1997, Crutzen and Stoermer, 2000 « It is clear that we control much of Earth, and that our activities affect the rest. In a very real sense, the world is in our hands—and how we handle it will determine its composition and dynamics, and our fate. » (Vitousek et al, 1997) “During the past two centuries, the global effects of human activities have become clearly noticeable. This is the period when data retrieved from glacial ice cores show the beginning of a growth in the atmospheric concentrations of several greenhouse gases", in particular C02 and CH4. Such a starting date also coincides with James Watts invention of the steam engine in 1784.” (Crutzen and Stoermer, 2000)+ 2°-6° -30% 60%
Biomes and AnthromesIn 1700, nearly half of the terrestrialbiosphere was wild, without humansettlements or substantial land use.Most of the remainder was in aseminatural state (45%) having onlyminor use for agriculture andsettlements.By 2000, the opposite was true,with the majority of the biosphere inagricultural and settled anthromes,less than 20% seminatural and only aquarter left wild.
Crossing planetary boundariesSource: Rockström J et al, “A safe operating space for humanity”, Nature. 2009 Sep 24 ;461(7263):472-5.
The Environmental Kuznets curve(EKC), 1955, 1992 A « bell curve » shaped relationship between environmental quality and per capita GDP level World Bank (1992) : “The view that greater economic activity inevitably hurts the environment is based on static assumptions about technology, tastes and environmental investments” ; “As incomes rise, the demand for improvements in environmental quality will increase, as will the resources available for investment”
Development and the environment Lack of access to Lack of access to clean water sanitary Urban pollution SO2 emissions Waste CO2 emissionsSource: Criqui, 2006.
Poverty as an ecological curse, good institutions as a lasting solution Environmental Kuznets curve: solution to ecological crises is simply more economic development (basis of the Lomborg fallacy); Some truth to that argument (some pollutions recede with development); But poverty is a also an ecological curse : social-environmental spiral in which poverty pressures individuals to consume natural capital (Haïti, indoor cooking); Neither more or less economic development will do. Real Problem: lack of good institutions and good governance. Absence of clearly defined and secure property rights, lack of clear environmental policy goals, poor enforcement of existing regulation, corruption, lack of political will and lack of institutional capacity = examples of failing governance that leads to ecosystem degradation. The question of good institutions and governance in common natural resources management is crucial; “tragedy of the commons” can be avoided without privatization or centralization but with implementing just principles (E. Ostrom). Natural resources = common goods = social relations;
The Xingu Riverwatershed and theXingu IndigenousPark, deforestation1994–2005.Source: Deforestation1994–2005 mapsprepared by theInstitutoSocioambientalSource: Ostrom et al,2010.
Inequality and ecological crises Boyce: Economic activities that degrade the environment generally yield winners and losers. Without winners - people who derive net benefit from the activity, or at least think that they do - the environmentally degrading activities would not occur. Without losers - people who bear net costs - they would not matter in terms of human well-being. Why are the winners able to impose costs on the losers? the losers do not yet exist. They belong to future generations, and so are not here to defend themselves. The losers already exist, but they do not know it. They lack information about the costs of environmental degradation. The third possibility is that the losers exist and know it, but they lack the power to prevent the winners from imposing costs on them. Not only different environmental impacts depending on level of income (the 20% richest pollute 2.5 times than the 20% poorest in France) but also dynamic view of inequality: the ability of the rich to impose environmental cost to the poors (individuals and countries); False virtue of the rich: reversal of the argument of Mancur Olson on "green elite“ that would be environmentally beneficial to all because it would have a greater preference for the environment. In reality, inequality increases ecological irresponsibility of the rich, the demand for economic growth of the rest of the population and hampers the ability to organize effectively to preserve natural capital. Inequality pollutes our planet.
The era of environmental inequality Environmental justice and inequality: USA, 1987; 2007 Report: “Over nine million people are estimated to live within three kilometers (1.8 miles) of the nations 413 commercial hazardous waste facilities…percentages of people of color as a whole are 1.9 times greater in host neighborhoods than in non- host areas…poverty rates in the host neighborhoods are 1.5 times greater than those in non-host areas (18% vs. 12%) and mean annual household incomes in host neighborhoods are 15% lower ($ 48,234 vs. $ 56,912).” Different types of environmental inequalities: exposure and access inequalities; Policy effect inequalities; Impact inequalities; Policy- making inequalities.
Environmental inequality in MontréalSource: Morency et al, 2009 (DSPM).
The era of social-ecological disasters "The Gods’ anger does not exist": the natural fate plays a limited role in social- ecological disaster whose impact depends on the degree of democracy and inequality of the society that faces them; The Japanese tragedy illustrates this idea: at each step of the disastrous spiral inequality and democracy have been decisive; The earthquake has made "only" a few tens of casualties due to earthquake standards (that of 1923 had caused 150,000 deaths, including 40,000 in burning slums, the one in Haiti, about 300 000); international inequaly; Development factor: Since 1923, « only » 30 000 deaths in Japan, that faced 190 earthquakes with magnitude > 6; The tsunami may have killed up to 25,000 people (the 2004 Asian tsunami has cost 250,000 lives): sea walls, a few feet too short, have probably saved tens of thousands of lives by slowing down for a few minutes the water; Finally, the nuclear threat was not only ill-estimated, but mostly hidden from the public: it is a democratic failure;
The era of social-ecological disasters Role of Governance: Comparing Haiti and Dominican Republic in the 2000s: the number of victims killed or affected is sixteen times higher in Haiti than in the Dominican Republic, the number of people affected three times greater; Role of social inequality in disasters affecting rich countries: heatwave in France (2003) and Katrina (2005); More social-ecological disasters to come...
Why green dictatorship is not the answer Argument developed since Hans Jonas (1979) and Garett Hardin (1968): Democracy leads to ecological ruin, we must "dispense with the consent of citizens" if we want to get out of ecological crises in time; Three criticisms of democracy, ethical (liberalism), institutional (paralysis, short-termism), economic (smoke screen for capitalism); In reality, democracy is the system of “ecological alterness”: free information, responsiveness, free knowledge sharing (government by discussion / public reasoning), hospitality for "institutional diversity" (Ostrom), fight against inequality; Examples: USSR, China and USA + empirical studies.
Four political paths Building social-ecological resilience (democratic and non- Darwinian adaptation to environmental crises: building social- ecological collective protections, example of the heatwave plan after 2003 in France); Mobilizing for environmental justice: inventing a “social- ecological welfare state” which addresses the issue of environmental inequalities (= 13% of fuel poor households in France, 16% in the UK) and develops social-ecological policies (tax, urban renovation, collective transports); Enriching the Green Economy: grow eco-industries, develop circular / functional economy, build and use new development indicators (Sen-Stiglitz Report Fitoussi); Aknowledging ecological debt/promoting global solidarity;
Global environmental governance and ecological crises 1,4 Stockholm, 1972 Rio, 1992 1,3 Carbon footprint 1,2 1,1 1 0,9 Living planet index 0,8 0,7 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005Source: Laurent, 2011.
Why is the Montreal Protocol a success story? Signed by 24 countries and EEC in Sept. 1987 Undisputable science = satellite photos of ozone layer depletion (problems of UV rays); Brilliant diplomacy: Extension to every country = only universal treaty (196 parties) since Sept 2009; Quantitative and transparent targets; For developed and developing countries; Taking into account national production and imports and exports (difficult to cheat); Financial transfers between rich and poor countries; Flexibility : revision of targets according to science and results; Flexibility : panel of experts can decide partial or temporary exemptions; Result = 97% of ODS have been eliminated and ozone layer is in the process of restoration!
Climate negotiations: the global chiasm Co2 emissions from fossil fuels between 1990 and 2008: + 41%Source: Le Quéré C, Raupach MR, Canadell JG, Marland G et al. (2009)Trends in the sources and sinks of carbon dioxide. Nature geosciences.
What we should do in Durban: the twin curves - 5% - 30%Source: HDR 08.