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Chapter

Cover Issues in Political Theory

14. The Environment  

Simon Caney

This concluding chapter addresses the normative issues raised by the environment. The environment includes the earth's crust, soil, and natural resources; the atmosphere; all the earth's water; and the biosphere. Human activity has a profound impact on the environment. Indeed, many of the activities that humans engage in — activities which often serve important human interests and goals — result in environmental degradation. Persons depend on the environment in many ways: for their food, health, and for many of their goals in life. As such, humans face a problem when people impact on the environment to such an extent that it undercuts people's capacity to enjoy the standard of living to which they are entitled. Thus, a just account of the environment will take into account both the fact that people have legitimate interests which involve using the environment and the fact that there must be limits on people's environmental impacts.

Chapter

Cover Global Environmental Politics

2. Ideas about environmental protection  

This chapter explores the ideas and debates which shape global environmental politics. At least three types of socially constructed ideas play a key role in international environmental governance: world views, causal beliefs, and social norms. However, ideas are not universally shared, which means that ideological clashes are a feature of global environmental governance. The chapter looks at five of the major ideological debates that have marked the evolution of global environmental governance. The first two debates present conflicting world views: the first concerns the scope of environmental values, while the second examines the intrinsic values of non-human organisms. The following two debates concern causal beliefs: one is about the relationship between human intervention and environmental protection, while the other concerns the relationship between economic growth and environmental degradation. The last debate considers different social norms related to environmental justice and the appropriate behaviours expected towards historically marginalized populations.

Book

Cover Poverty and Development

Edited by Tim Allen and Alan Thomas

Poverty & Development in the 21st Century provides an updated, interdisciplinary overview of one of the world's most complex and pressing social problems. The book analyses and assesses key questions faced by practitioners and policy makers, ranging from what potential solutions to world poverty are open to us to what form development should take and whether it is compatible with environmental sustainability. This third edition considers the complex causes of global poverty and inequality, introducing major development issues that include hunger, disease, the threat of authoritarian populism, the refugee crisis, and environmental degradation. Three new chapters illustrate the impact of climate, refugee and health crises on development by drawing on accounts of lived experience to explore the real-world implications of theory.

Chapter

Cover Global Environmental Politics

9. Natural resources, security, and conflicts  

This chapter discusses the relationship between the environment and security. The concept of ‘environmental security’ is omnipresent, but is nonetheless ambiguous and contested. What exactly needs to be secured, and what are the security threats? Is environmental security about state security, faced with the loss of natural resources? Or is it about protecting individuals and communities from environmental degradation and reduced access to key environmental resources? A first step in clarifying these questions is to disentangle two related but distinct causal arguments. In the relationship between environment and security, environmental degradation can be analysed either as a cause or as a consequence of security issues. A second step needed to clarify these debates is to adopt clear definitions. In the context of international relations, security has traditionally been understood in relation to the survival of the state, and the main threats to state security are armed conflicts. For the purpose of this chapter, conflicts are defined as any type of disagreement. The chapter also examines the impact of conflicts on the environment.