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Chapter 9: Environmentalism

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1 Chapter 9: Environmentalism
Is human-made climate change an inconvenient truth? © 2014 Cynthia Weber

2 Learning aims: Understand what the myth “human-made climate change is an inconvenient truth” means and how it functions Understand the core principles of environmentalism and green politics Explore the similarities and differences between Gore’s idealism and a typical idealist Critically engage with the notion of “inconvenience” in Gore’s myth © 2014 Cynthia Weber

3 Last week: Modernization and development theory
Myth: “there is a clash of civilizations” Key concepts: Identity, desire, culture Identities are not the stable entities that Huntington wishes them to be. They are inherently unstable and fragmented © 2014 Cynthia Weber

4 Environmentalism Flashcard:
Key concepts: Green Politics Climate change Truth Myth: “human-made climate change is and inconvenient truth” Key thinkers: Al Gore Matthew Paterson © 2014 Cynthia Weber

5 Gore’s idealist assumptions (table 9.1)
Assumptions typical of idealism Assumptions atypical of idealism Humans are good by nature Progress is possible Bad things happen because of bad organization Conflict is not inevitable Collective action can redress injustice and avoid conflict International society can solve global problems Human-environmental conflict is more urgent than human-human conflict at this moment in history International society must address itself to the new environmental security problem by tacking human-made climate change The preservation of the planet must become our new organizing principle © 2014 Cynthia Weber

6 The core premise of environmental/green theory (box 9.1)
What is the core premise of environmental/green theory and the foundation for environmental/green political action? Our received wisdom about the relationship between nature and culture (that humans should dominate nature and extract from it whatever humans want and need) must be questioned Why is this the case? Because the current human/nature relationship is literally killing humans, other species, and the planet as a whole © 2014 Cynthia Weber

7 What An Inconvenient Truth says and does not say
What the film says: Human-made climate change is and inconvenient truth that can be solved by humans because it is a human-made problem. How the film says it: By using the “factual” documentary film form What the film does not say: Any controversial details, policy recommendations or troubling contradictions in Gore’s argument. How the film does not say it: By glossing these aspects of Gore’s argument that appear in his earlier work on the environment What An Inconvenient Truth says and how it says it (box 9.2) What An Inconvenient Truth does not say and how it does not say it (box 9.3) © 2014 Cynthia Weber

8 Gore’s Global Marshall Plan (1992: 305-7)
1. The stabilization of the worlds population 2. The rapid creation and development of environmentally appropriate technologies 3. A comprehensive an ubiquitous change in the economic “rules of the game” by which we measure the impact of our decisions on the environment 4. The negotiation and approval of a new generation of international agreements 5. The establishment of a cooperative plan for educating the world’s citizens about our global environment 6. The establishment, especially in the developing world – of social and political conditions most conducive to the emergence of sustainable societies © 2014 Cynthia Weber

9 Theory activity: Ontology and Inconvenience
1. Watch An Inconvenient Truth 2. Reflect What is its core message? Who is encouraged to act on behalf of the environment? What is the role of US citizens, the US state and corporations respectively? 3. Discuss Does the film answer Patersen’s call to move from “anthropocentric” to an “ecocentric” ontology? Is it possible to maintain neo-liberal economic growth and be environmentally friendly? Is this an “inconvenient truth” for everyone? Is it equally inconvenient for everyone? Does it matter? © 2014 Cynthia Weber

10 How does the film WALL-E make sense of the world? (box 9.4)
By suggesting that the inconvenient truth of human-made climate change created an environmental catastrophe so severe that the earth could no longer support life; and By claiming that what has been lost with the earth’s ability to sustain human life is the ability for humans to sustain meaningful relationships, either with the earth or with one another © 2014 Cynthia Weber

11 What is typical and deviant in the world of WALL-E. (boxes 9. 5 and 9
What is typical is for humans to have abandoned inconvenient earth to machines like WALL-E and opted to live instead in hyper-convenient corporatized space where human consumption can carry on uninterrupted Deviant What is deviant is for humans to overthrow the directive of the Buy N Large corporation and return to inconvenient earth to try to live there again © 2014 Cynthia Weber

12 What must go without saying in order for Gore’s myth to appear to be true? (box 9.7)
That human-made climate change is not necessarily inconvenient for (particularly US-based) global corporations because Gore’s solutions to the problem of global warming do not require corporations to sacrifice economic growth to some presumed “environmental sustainability” © 2014 Cynthia Weber

13 Film activity: Animated Politics
Watch Trailers for WALL-E, An Inconvenient Truth and Avatar Answer What is the difference between these trailers? How do these films present their message differently? How does it matter that one is animated (WALL-E), one is not (An Inconvenient Truth) and one is a mix (Avatar)? Discuss What can animation do that films cannot? What can non-animated films or documentaries do that animation cannot? Why do you think both WALL-E and Avatar resort to “made up” characters to show “human” emotion and question “human” relations to the earth and the environment? © 2014 Cynthia Weber

14 Next week: Anarchism Liberty Public/ Private Action
Are we the 99%? Film: The Hunger Games Liberty Public/ Private Action © 2014 Cynthia Weber

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