There is no doubt that we currently face the widespread destruction of the environment. Today, humans have massively been caught in social as well as environmental destruction as they are at the core of the problem. It is clear that the contemporary environmental crisis is worth considering as it has threatened us over the last few decades since humans have transformed the earth and its global environment. As a result of this, we are now indisputably experiencing a period of dramatic change of the environment. It is now important to offer a picture of the crisis by highlighting the important factors contributing to the contemporary ecological disaster.
To determine the focus of how to face the challenge, the discussion of human activities and the economic system should be seen as particular catalyzers. The global environmental crisis makes us think about the relation between the effects of human activities and the economic failure (as the most familiar image of the crisis) which leads to inequality as well as collapse. These two issues are connected. Therefore, the questions “about the cause of our environmental crisis is the product of what?” and “about measurements in order to prevent future environmental disaster?” should be taken into account.
Considering the nature of the current economic system and its crisis which is seemingly inherent in the capitalist system, we witness the resulting fundamental environmental breakdown that has many adverse impacts on the lives of people. As hinted above, it is obvious that the catastrophic changes threaten us: global warming, loss of biodiversity, pollution, deforestation, inappropriate urban sprawl, the way of generating energy, CO2 emissions, overpopulation and correspondingly over-consumption, to name but some of the most obvious. Our new epoch, with the rise of modern capitalist and industrial development, has led us to greater damages. As is agreed, environment is inherently political. In hindsight, it seems clear that there is no such real work being done politically. While there has been much debate on this issue, however, the problems have not never been resolved. If capital-intensive industries profit from this system without any attention to environment with each passing day, how can we call it “development”? If over-consumption of natural resources gives us the risk of being locked into a dark tunnel, how can we see the light at the end? What actually does environmental ethics actually mean for us?
It can be asserted that the existing environmental problems can be solved to some extent through responsibility, common sense and human action as they are interconnected. We must consider the inappropriate use of technology and the impacts of the current unequal economic system in coping with environmental challenges as they seem to neglect the value of the environment. Moreover, we should stop considering the environment as a tool of monetary and/or economic activity, which we only ever utilize for profits and for making the environment an objective of economic growth in pursuit of material interests. Nature cannot be seen as potential element in the service of humankind in terms of monetary return; this is an improper categorization of environmental justice. It utterly undervalues the environment, which no human being has the right to do. We genuinely need to redefine nature from being an economic instrument from abusing it for the purpose of economic growth, and we need to instead respect it as a quality itself.
Applicable Solutions for NOW
Environmental degradation is not only a global issue, but also a regional and local issue. There are some actors that play roles at it’s heart. In order to change our behavior towards nature we need to propose a concrete and collective solution for radical activities. We actually need to find truly powerful solutions for a greener world through common concerns and consensus.
Dealing with the environmental problems and offering a solution at supranational level through negotiations such as The Kyoto Protocol, The Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro and COP 21 in Paris is efficient to see the problem at a large level and bring solutions to the emergence of greater and more serious damages. The case for taking action through agreements rather than postponing it for the future, and then implementing the agreements at least make us a bit hopeful and optimistic for our environmental concerns. It is not sufficient as it is, however.
National governments play an important role in supporting environmental rehabilitation plans and must also manage finite resources through sustainable and efficient products. They use some economic instruments and incentives (regulation, subsidies etc.) to control undesirable effects and are capable of changing undesirable production behavior into more sustainable patterns. The most efficient model is giving an increased role to governments and supporting enhancement of the sub-national levels of the government (regional-city-commune level) in environmental management.
Local governments are closer to electorates and civil society than national governments. They are also capable to adopt new approaches, for example strong promotion for biodiversity. They can also encourage new forms of economic activity (through paying attention to public concerns) to move environmental policy closer to better models. The integration of environmental considerations in sectoral programs, for example appropriate transport planning, can be easily made by local governments. Therefore, the strong relation between local authorities and local communities is highly significant, at least as a starting point. Eco villages anywhere in the world are a great example of this solution.
Bottom-up participation has been a target of citizen and grassroots environmental groups for environmental sustainability. Grassroots environmental activism, actions and citizen groups demand better services for the environment such as appropriate land-use planning. As accelerated environmental degradation threatens livelihoods and welfare, such reactions from the grassroots would help in reaching more successful agendas such as resource use or environmental protection. Local actors, through their involvement in the policy-making process, can help the promotion of environmental policies. It can be said clearly that participation gives rise to the proper implementation of policies and mobilizes the rich understanding of resources held by local people. An “Earth conscious” participatory approach is significant in this case as it involves young people, indigenous people, as well as marginalized and underprivileged groups. Everyone has the chance to speak up against the environmental crises, producing voices other than the sole economic interest of protagonists who desire for countries to remain in their locked unsustainable pathways.
What is needed NOW?
In order to put environmental considerations into policy sectors, there is a need to promote solid long-term policies with a strong commitment and concrete implementation plans. The
development of green technologies and ethically ecological modernization without solely economic interests should be taken into account in any environmental decision. Creating green jobs, providing funds and variable urban programs for young people, promotioning sustainable development policies, strong and active environmental participation and offering consciousness based environmental education should have priority in the agenda. Together, they should offer the concrete picture of a noteworthy achievement in a wide perspective with both political and social changes: mainly elimination of poverty and equal distribution of resources, population control, lifestyle changing, green technology etc. in the decision-making process. Most importantly, the concrete implementation of all of these policies requires environment stewardship as a moral obligation.
The Ideal Model:
Respecting nature is the key pillar of sustainable environment as it is the vital point of it. “The Green perspective,” or ecologist approach, focusing on the attitude of humankind towards nature is based on the co-existence of human beings and nature. As aforementioned, having responsibility for political ecology enables us to see that economic, political, and environmental issues are relevant to each other and are interconnected. The ideal model can be drawn upon seeing a better future with a broad and ethical approach combining economic and political perspectives.