Friday, February 06, 2015

Environmentalism as short-termism

After reading a Facebook discussion on short-termism in liberal democracies, I spent five minutes writing a short abstract for a paper which I may or may not write some day:

"One of the staple criticism against the liberal-democratic state is that it invites short-termism: politicians are only interested in winning the next election and voters only seek to secure immediate material benefits. This line of criticism has found particular traction among more radical environmentalists who believe that society should be fundamentally reorganized so that it becomes “sustainable”. Such sustainability is thought to entail reduced global trade flows, a transition to small-scale renewable energy and a rejection of “big science”. Yet, looking towards the future, true resilience seems to depend on the existence of a robust global trade system capable of offsetting local resource shortages, access to clean and concentrated energy capable of powering the world’s growing megacities and advanced technologies that can offer protection from cosmic risks. Securing a long-term sustainable global trajectory may thus call for policies quite different from the immediate local approximation of a sustainable state as envisaged by environmentalism. In light of this, environmentalism itself may be surprisingly guilty of short-termism."



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