Chapter 38: Environmental democracy
It is widely asserted in environmental political theory that the solution to the environmental crisis, including the climate change crisis, is more democracy. Indeed, this has given rise to an extensive literature on ecological citizenship and environmental democracy. But a sober assessment of the possibility of establishing environmental democracy in the time available suggests we need to think more carefully about this assertion. If the worse crisis scenarios evolve, many people are likely to concentrate on protecting their own interests rather than those of society at large. Support for technological over social solutions will grow, as it will for forms of eco-authoritarianism in the name of survivalism. Leading thinkers employ the analogy of war, when democracy is shelved for a period of time. There is thus a need to think more practically about how democratic values and practices might be preserved should future generations face such a crisis. In search of an alternative, the chapter argues for paying more attention to localism and the global ecovillage movement more specifically. If people have to flee unlivable cities, there may be much to learn from people who have already sustainable communities based on forms of participatory democratic governance.
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