The Environmentalism of the Poor
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The Environmentalism of the Poor

A Study of Ecological Conflicts and Valuation

Joan Martinez-Alier

The Environmentalism of the Poor has the explicit intention of helping to establish two emerging fields of study – political ecology and ecological economics – whilst also investigating the relations between them.
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Chapter 9: The State and Other Actors

Joan Martinez-Alier


In other nuclear countries, a similar pattern of unfair sharing of environmental risks is to be found as that in the United States described in Chapter 8. For instance, French nuclear testing in Mururoa compares with US testing in other Pacific islands, and in or near Indian country in the continental USA. Horrific stories of radioactive pollution, both from military and civil sources, are known from the ex-Soviet Union, and are bound to come to light in other countries still following the same path. A ‘nuclear’ state, as Robert Jungk remarked 30 years ago, tends towards dictatorship, though one could argue that the Chernobyl accident of 1986, which questioned the generalized belief in technical progress in the ex-Soviet Union, had a most important role in accelerating political change away from dictatorship. In India, as in France, an alliance between scientists and technocrats in government has given support to the nuclear industry. Thus, in 2001, the government of India is proposing a breeder reactor fuelled by plutonium to be built on the coast of Tamil Nadu, amidst general acquiescence – perhaps because of the distance between proposals and reality – except for complaints from the Fishworkers’ movement. At the other end of the nuclear ‘life’ cycle, the Uranium Corporation of India, a state enterprise, has heavily contaminated since the mid-1960s the miners and miners’ families in some areas of Jharkhand, but national controversy has only arisen recently (Bathia, 2001: 129–35, Wielenga, 1999: 93–6). The state has played everywhere a...

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