Our Relationship with Nature and the Battle against Climate Change
Climate change is one among the most daunting threat to the environment today. It threatens not only the degradation of our health and environment, but it also impends to destroy the global economy and political security. In the United States, there are many steps taken to combat the threat caused by climate change. However, in the book entitled This Changes Everything, the author, Naomi Klein proposed that the attempt to work against climate change will surely fail, unless people will unite into a common understanding that it is a “part of a much broader battle of world views” (Klein 397). Further, while some people believe that there is no way to solve the current problem of climate change, the author suggested otherwise. As Klein argues, changing our views in terms of our relationship with nature will lead us to act collectively towards the attainment of better economic and political system that can completely address the problem on climate change.
The signing into law of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in 1970 reflected the will of the government in initiating legislative acts that welcomes regulatory measures for the modern day environment. The noteworthy transformation of the U.S environmental law after the signing of the NEPA was a result of a “remarkable burst of federal legislation adopted in response to the perceived inadequacies of the common law” (Percival 160). The emergence of many legislations is considered as a response to the shortfalls of the existing laws and the disappointment over the decentralized manner of securing the environment. There was an overwhelming support towards these environmental rulings that engaged the federal agencies to institute regulatory programs on a national level. These regulatory programs that were implemented resulted in the reduction of many pollutants that for the most part, come from the emissions of big industries. Saving the environment was considered by many political leaders of the time to be more pressing than any other issues; however, Klein thought that these leaders were wrong. Klein argued that a sufficient and broad conception of the environmental crisis “neither trumps nor distracts from our most pressing political and economic causes: it supercharges each one of them with existential urgency” (Klein 134). For instance, almost all the environmental policies were comprised of either an explicit or implicit mechanism, that is, of defining a certain goal and the manner by which to attain that goal. Accordingly, these mechanisms “often are linked within the political process, because both the choice of a goal and the mechanism for achieving that goal have important political ramifications”(Stavins 31). Klein also noted that the example of industrialized countries in protecting the environment, such as cutting on in the amount of industrial emissions, determine how other countries will follow through in the future. This supports the argument that the fight for climate change should not be considered as a politically unconnected movement.
Changing our perception of free trade and market fundamentalism will likewise result in a changed perception of our relationship with nature. Free trade has always been viewed in a positive light, that is, of being a source of economic growth. On the other, the concept of free market fundamentalism promotes the idea that societal well-being is upheld when businesses work mainly towards their self-interest, thus, generally directing their efforts to maximize profits (Stiglitz 346). However, a closer examination of free trade leads one to conclude that it can be destructive to the environment. Further, a closer look towards market fundamentalism exposes one to the idea that it reinforces “the aggressive export of US ‘free market’ principles, the continuous tax cuts of the current administration, the deepening economic inequalities in the USA ..” (Block 327). In contrast to the general belief that market fundamentalism can help in the promotion of societal well-being, Klein argued it has in fact “become the greatest enemy to planetary health (Klein 23). The author noted that in the past several decades, people held the better part of the relationship as the physical requirements of the environment are carved to suit the people’s need for continuous growth, development and profit. This exemplified how market fundamentalism has implemented “policies that so successfully freed multinational corporations from virtually all constraints” (Klein 18). That is, the lack of stricter regulations on large industrial players resulted in the rise of gas emissions that cause global warming. When the Reagan administration suggested that “technology will ultimately be the answer to the problems of providing energy and protecting the environment” (Oreskes & Conway 182), the focus of the administration was more on the positive impact of technology and industrialization, and there was a clear disregard for how progress would impact climate change. Many environmentalists suggest that when mismanaged, “climate change will reverse development progress and compromise the well being of current and future generation” (World 37). However, Klein suggested that it was not yet too late to act and there is still a chance “to transform our economy so that it is less-resource intensive” (Klein 19). There is a need for people to change the perception towards the environment, that is, the natural resources are not ours to exploit just to suit the needs of the free trade and market fundamentalism.
The reality that free trading or the absence of restrictive measures on commercial activity leads to climate change and environmental damage was being denied. For instance, there is a claim that the expansion of trade was known to have a scale effect because the higher level of economic activities. These activities will “require greater energy use and since most countries rely on fossil fuels as their primary energy source, the scale effect will lead to higher levels of greenhouse gas emissions” (Tamiotti et al 50), however, this claim was vehemently denied by industrial capitalist who refute the concept that climate change is a major societal problem (Dunlap & Mccright 155). For example, fossil fuel industries have their own reason why they promote the idea that global warming is not caused by human activity, and that the threat is inflated and can be easily resolved (Davis & Rosen 2015). Consequently, it was difficult for many industrial players to attack legislations that support the environment because it could adversely impact their standing with the public. Their recourse shifted on the promotion of environmental skepticism, where the scientific evidence about environmental damage and the factors that cause it are challenged, most often citing that the evidence gathered by the scientific community was not sufficient to warrant restrictive regulations (Dunlap & Jacques 700). Klein suggested that we have to take a closer examination on market fundamentalism and its cultural implications “still block critical life-saving climate action on virtually every front” (Klein 55). People have to identify the political and cultural paradigms that deter them to work towards the prevention of climate change and the protection of the environment.
A result of environmental assessment suggested that in order to avoid further deterioration of the environment and the occurrence of hazards brought by climate change, the global population and industries has to live within the limits imposed by the government. For example, a study in Latin American recommended that for the region to avoid 2 degrees increase in temperature, “about 40% of Latin American oil, about 55% of its gas, and 75% of its coal reserves, (…) would have to stay in the ground” (Edwards et al 6). Consequently, the challenge on the sustainable management of natural resources is not restricted to the Latin American region, but to almost all countries around the world as well. For one, there are the perils of extractivism where a country relies on the extraction of its natural resources for a sound economy, to the impairment of the environment, and the deterrence of collective efforts towards climate change (Edwards et al 6). Klein pointed out that because of the point of view of extractivism, there is the wrongful perception that “there would be more earth for us to consume” (Klein 162). Further, the author of This Changes Everything stated that only when people are able to “leave extractivism behind and build the societies we need within the boundaries we have” (Klein 163), can we bel able to resolve to the existing environmental problems and climate change.
The message of Naomi Klein in her book This Changes Everything is clear. There is a need for people to change their views towards nature, if we have to achieve sustainability. The transformation lies in the ability of us to change their point of view in areas such as the use of natural resources, progress, the link between the environment, climate change and political movements, as well as the idea of extractivism. There is fear that the inability of people to adapt towards changes that leads to the true form of sustainability may get them and the world into trouble in the near future. Nevertheless, while the looming climate change crisis threatens the survival of life on this planet, Klein offered that hope still exists. In a positive light, climate change can be viewed as an opportunity for people to unite and work as one towards a common goal.
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