Environmentalism for a New Millennium: The Challenge of Coevolution

By Leslie Paul Thiele | Go to book overview

4
The Quest for
Environmental Justice

Social Interdependence
across Space

“In just about any environmental issue, an activist with Florida Defenders of the Environment observed, “there are some people who benefit from environmental destruction. That's why it's going on: whether it's mining companies, oil companies, or people [burning down rainforests] in the Amazon. If you look at the whole world, however, it's probably 99 percent of the people who are being harmed [by environmental destruction], especially if you look at the long term. The activist's statement testifies to a common characteristic of fourth-wave environmentalists. Their ecological perspective produces not only an expanded temporal horizon but an expanded spatial horizon as well.

While the sensibility of temporal interdependence remains the most salient feature of contemporary environmentalism, the affirmation and cultivation of spatial interdependence are pervasive. The task ahead for environmentalists, Dianne Dillon-Ridgley, president of Zero Population Growth (ZPG), remarked, is to “recapture a moral vision for our socitainable. 1 The concern for sustainability bespeaks a future focus. The concern for inclusivity bespeaks an expanded sociogeographic perspective. To think inclusively is to think of the world as a whole, despite its national, ideological, racial, economic, and political cleavages. The pursuit of intergenerational justice thus finds its complement in the global pursuit of social justice, also known as environmental justice. While intergenerational justice and social justice remain conceptually distinct, for

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