Globalization, Globalism, Environment, and Environmentalism: Consciousness of Connections

Globalization, Globalism, Environment, and Environmentalism: Consciousness of Connections

Globalization, Globalism, Environment, and Environmentalism: Consciousness of Connections

Globalization, Globalism, Environment, and Environmentalism: Consciousness of Connections

Synopsis

In both scientific research and public interest over the past two decades there has been a growing attention to environmental matters. This volume presents the views of a number of leading figures concerning the nature of environmental consciousness and the emergence of connections linking globalization (processes of intensifying social, political, and economic networks), globalism (our sense of the world as a whole), specific environments (such as rainforests or cities), and environmentalism (expressed in the activities of social movement organizations).

Excerpt

Steven Vertovec

SCIENTISTS, politicians, businesspeople and the wider public today have an increasing awareness of global environmental issues. This public awareness, and a certain amount of knowledge accompanying it, has been growing in depth and breadth. Such an awareness has been developing over decades, spurred by prominent publications such as Rachel Carson’s (1963) Silent Spring, the Club of Rome’s (1972) The Limits of Growth, and the Brundtland Commission’s (1987) Our Common Future. Major public events have also drawn world-wide attention to environmental matters, especially the 1972 UN Conference on the Human Environment organized in Stockholm, the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED, often known as the Earth Summit) in Rio de Janeiro, and most recently the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development held in Johannesburg.

Global environmental problems were regarded as minor issues marginal to national interests until the 1980s. It was in the middle of the 1980s that the mass media began to pay increased attention to global environmental issues, prompted by events such as the Bhopal and Chernobyl disasters and the discovery of a hole in the ozone layer over the Antarctic. Since then, there has been a rising interest in such problems, particularly in the light of issues of global warming, along with unease over the emission of toxic chemicals, threats to biodiversity, desertification, the depletion of the world’s fisheries and the elimination of forest cover. There has emerged especially since that decade a world-wide attentiveness to common risks posed by radioactivity, pollutants and depletion of resources (cf. Beck 1992). Over the past twenty years, not least urged by public concern, scientific understanding of the global environment has developed considerably, occasionally feeding into public awareness. William C. Clark (2000: 87) describes the development of scientific awareness of global connections among environmental ‘stuff’: ‘As understanding of the earth system has emerged during the last two decades, it has revealed the planet’s . . .

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