A Study of Ecological Conflicts and Valuation
There is a new tide in global environmentalism. It arises from social conﬂicts on environmental entitlements, on the burdens of pollution, on the sharing of uncertain environmental risks and on the loss of access to natural resources and environmental services. There is a boom in mining and oil extraction in tropical countries. Is compensation paid for reversible and irreversible damage? Is restitution possible? Mangrove forests are sacriﬁced for commercial shrimp farming. Who has title to the mangroves, who wins and who loses by their destruction? Many ecological conﬂicts, whether they take place inside or outside markets, whether they are local or global, come about because economic growth means an increased use of the environment. Environmental impacts will be felt by future generations of humans, and they are abundantly felt already by other species. Some impacts fall now disproportionately on some human groups. They would be felt even without economic growth, since many resources and sinks are already exhausted at the present level of use. For instance, the carbon sinks and reservoirs are already overﬂowing, so to speak. The question is, who is entitled to use them, and in which proportion? Ecological distribution conﬂicts are studied by political ecology, a ﬁeld created by geographers, anthropologists and environmental sociologists. The unrelenting clash between economy and environment, with its ups and downs, its new frontiers, its urgencies and uncertainties, is analysed by ecological economics, another new ﬁeld of study created mainly by ecologists and economists who endeavour to...
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