Global: Environmental Justice
(c) Jason Zheng
Earth Democracy In Depth
By Jennifer Young
Vandana Shiva first introduced the concept of “earth democracy” in her 2005 book of the same name. Earth Democracy is defined by ten underlying principles. They are as follows:
“1. All species, peoples, and cultures have intrinsic worth.
2. The earth community is a democracy of all life.
3. Diversity in nature and culture must be defended.
4. All beings have a natural right to sustenance.
5. Earth Democracy is based on living economies and economic democracy.
6. Living economies are built on local economies.
7. Earth Democracy is a living democracy.
8. Earth Democracy is based on living cultures.
9. Living cultures are life nourishing.
10. Earth Democracy globalizes peace, care, and compassion. (Shiva, 2005, p. 9-11)”
Earth democracy is a both the means and the end. It is a modern political movement to take back control of the global commons, fight corporate globalization, and restore peace, justice, and sustainability to the world. However, the ten principles it is based on have roots in many indigenous cultures the world over from Native American culture to ancient India. Earth democracy works by protection of ecological processes like the right to water, the right to food, the right to health, the right to education, and the right to jobs and livelihoods.
Shiva breaks earth democracy down into several concepts, including living economies, living democracies, and living cultures. She defines living economies as the “processes and space where the earth’s resources are shared equitably to provide for our food and water needs and to create meaningful livelihoods. (Shiva, 2005, p. 5)” In order to create successful living democracies, humans must take earth’s ecological limits into account. This means localization of production to reduce waste of natural resources and human labor. Otherwise, sustainability and prosperity for all are impossible. Ecological security is mankind’s most basic security. (Shiva, 2005) Living economies are based on living democracies.
Living democracy “is the space for reclaiming our fundamental freedoms, defending our basic rights, and exercising our common responsibilities and duties to protect life on earth, defend peace, and promote justice. (Shiva, 2005, p. 6)” Earth democracy is the means to restore and reimplement living democracies. Living democracies are based on the awareness that all beings are valuable, resources should be universally shared and all should be considered and included in the division of earth’s resources. Neoliberal/corporate globalization has, despite promises to the contrary, effectively destroyed democracy at every level by enclosure of the commons and removal of electoral power from the citizens and parliaments. According to Shiva, “commons are the highest expression of economic democracy.” (Shiva, 2005, p. 3)
Living democracies can only grow from living cultures. Living cultures are “spaces in which we shape and live our diverse values, beliefs, practices, and traditions, while fully embracing our common, universal humanity, and our commonality with other species through soil, water, and air. Living cultures are based on nonviolence and compassion, diversity and pluralism, equality and justice, and respect for life in all its diversity. (Shiva, 2005, p. 6-7)” Enclosure of the commons is not compatible with the idea of living cultures. It creates exclusions, which lead to cultural discord. This is the cost of corporate globalization.
Corporations and international organizations are responsible for destroying sustenance, stability and life. Shiva argues that only by embracing the principles of earth democracy can we solve the culture of exclusion, war, extremism, and prejudice that has separated the world into the Global North and the Global South. Indigenous communities in India have been setting the example under Shiva’s guidance by writing to corporations like Ricetec, Inc. to protest their patenting Basmati rice. Change begins when individuals use their voices, leading to communities organizing into grassroots movements, who then pressure their governments to listen to the people’s actual needs. Through collective action, the commons can be restored and sustainability, equality and fairness can be returned to the world.
Shiva, V. (2005). Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and Peace. Cambridge, MA: South End Press.
Shipping Waste Abroad
By Brigitte Keen
In a world where possession of the latest technological
devices determine societal hierarchy, and where these technologies are given
rapid expiration dates, the accumulation of waste hemorrhages and our
coastlines overflow with electronic waste. Electronic waste, or “e-waste”, are
technological materials/devices deemed obsolete or unwanted and are therefore
discarded intranationally or internationally. Lately, with technological
advancement to blame, the issue of e-waste has become a vitally important
global health issue. Millions
of tons of e-waste are sent legally and illegally to developing countries
each year. This amounts to approximately 20
million carriers of waste per year, with the expected
growth of 33% by 2017. E-waste such as, old phones, computers, toys, and
cameras, are discarded by individuals, and then separated at recycling
facilities. What is left after this separation is bought
and sold by businesses to developing countries such as, China, Indonesia, India,
Once containers of this cargo are shipped, it is impossible to guarantee where
they will end up or how they will be handled. Laws and regulations, such as the
Convention, mandate that waste be sent solely to certified
recyclers or countries that agree to accept it. The issue here is the lack
of accountability that developed nations such as the US,
Canada, and the UK take for
their precious cargo. Though there
are fines as high as $22,000 and the threat of criminal
prosecutions for repeat offenders, traffickers still find the risk worth
the benefit. Recycling properly is expensive
and can cost four times the cost of waste trafficking.
Sent to developing nations under false pretenses, labeled as
goods”, what is found is a medley of trash, e-waste, and plastics. In June
2013, the Philippine’s received a shipment from Canada,
from Canada.” The shipment was unattended for eight months, till the odor
became so putrid, it was finally opened. Amongst the promised plastics, the
large container also held household waste, including used diapers. The Philippines filed a petition to have the
carriers returned to Canada,
but have yet to see action. In more common instances, at best the waste is
accepted and picked a part for copper, and other valued materials, then burned
or let rot; at worst, the contents are dismantled by children and pregnant
women, exposing them to harmful
chemicals such as, cadmium, mercury, lead and arsenic. Overall, Europe has
tighter restrictions of their exports than North America
does. However, more emphasis has been placed on monitoring
imports, letting many of these harmful exports slip through the cracks.
The German Scandal
By Jason Zheng
The NOV states a sophisticated software on certain Volkswagen vehicles detects when the car is
undergoing official emissions testing, and turns full emissions controls on
only during the test. The effectiveness of these vehicles’ pollution emissions
control devices is greatly reduced during all normal driving situations. This
result in cars that meet emissions standards in the laboratory or testing
station, but during normal operation, emit nitrogen oxides, or NOx, at up to 40 times the standard. The
software produced by Volkswagen is a “defeat device,” as defined by the Clean
Air Act. The Clean Air Act requires vehicle
manufacturers to certify to EPA that their products will meet applicable
federal emission standards to control air pollution, and every vehicle sold in
the U.S. must be covered by an EPA-issued certificate of conformity. Motor
vehicles equipped with defeat devices, which reduce the effectiveness of the
emission control system during normal driving conditions, cannot be certified.
By making and selling vehicles with defeat devices that allowed for higher
levels of air emissions than were certified to EPA, Volkswagen violated two
important provisions of the Clean Air Act. EPA and CARB discovered the defeat device
software after independent analysis by researchers at West Virginia University,
working with the International Council on Clean
Transportation, a non-governmental organization, raised questions
about emissions levels, and the agencies began further investigations into the
issue. In September, after EPA and CARB demanded an explanation for the
identified emission problems, Volkswagen admitted that the cars contained
defeat devices. NOx pollution contributes to
nitrogen dioxide, ground-level ozone, and fine particulate matter. Exposure to
these pollutants has been linked with a range of serious health effects,
including increased asthma attacks and other respiratory illnesses that can be
serious enough to send people to the hospital.The allegations cover roughly 482,000 diesel passenger cars
sold in the United States since 2008. Affected diesel models include:
Jetta (2009 – 2015) ·
Jetta Sportwagen (2009-2014)
Beetle (2012 – 2015) ·
Beetle Convertible (2012-2015)
Audi A3 (2010 – 2015) · Golf (2010 – 2015)
· Golf Sportwagen (2015)·