This chapter engages Engel’s strong belief in democracy as one of the most important values in the life of humanity. It questions why democracy is still enjoying its undisputed place as the standard for legitimate political authority, despite the fact that most accepted present instantiations of democracy seem to have lost all their most significant characteristics. In answering this question, the chapter explores the meaning and content of democracy and links that to the future of global environmental ethics.
The author argues that earlier understandings of water as a sacred resource form an invaluable backdrop to contemporary reflections upon the damage caused by climate change, and can, moreover, be related to the modern concept of biological integrity. Linking climate change damage to the violation of human rights, in particular to the human rights of indigenous populations, the author offers a critique of the current failure to respond adequately to climate change damage, linking this to consumerism and globalization. She argues for the adoption of a focus on climate change justice that clearly enmeshes climate change and human rights, including the human right to water, which she argues should now be explicitly adopted as an international human right.