It is useful for us to consider that environmental policy comprises two major terms: environment and policy. Environment primarily refers to the ecological dimension (ecosystems), but can also take account of the social dimension, or quality of life, and as an economic dimension correlating to resource management. The term policy can be defined as a course of action or principle adopted or proposed by a government, party, business or individual. That leaves us with the combined definition that an environmental policy focuses on problems arising from human impact on the environment, which retro-acts onto human society by having a negative impact on human values such as good health or a healthy, robust environment.
Environmental issues which are typically addressed by standard environmental policies include (but are not limited to) air and water pollution, waste management, ecosystem management, biodiversity protection, and the protection of natural resources, wildlife and endangered species. More recently however, environmental policy has expanded into the communication of environmental issues.
Currently, environmental policies vary across the world, however with the issue of climate change, worldwide standards have been adopted such as the Kyoto Protocol, and every year summits are held to address issues of climate change and how to work together to address them and create a general environmental policy for the whole world to follow as a guideline.
One rationale for the adoption and enforcement of a robust environmental policy can be seen in the U.S. where we actually have in government forces that deny any existence of climate change and global warming, much less being caused by man. After overwhelming evidence and scientific consensus agree that it exists and is man made, they (Republicans) deny any aspects of it, and in fact are trying to repeal any progress we have made in the clean water and clean air acts, not to mention ignoring greenhouse gas emissions and climate change, and attempting to strip the EPA of power.
Part of right wing anti-climate, anti-environmental policy stems from ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, which, by now most of us are, or should be aware of. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), an alumnus of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) Introduces ALEC’s Agenda to the House, which aims to strip away rules to protect Americans’ health and introduce an anti-environmental protection agenda. This was termed an effort to ‘create jobs’ by eliminating any regulations which could hamper the business model of profit above all else without any regard for the consequences, just like Wall Street. This comes as no surprise to us as we know how greedy and anti-people, anti-worker, anti-consumer, the current business model exemplifies, and it is profit and bottom line above anything else, throwing any ethics, morals, social and other responsibilities out the window in the name of making a few extra bucks to line their already fat pockets. In this current political atmosphere we have, developing a strong environmental policy is difficult, if not nearly impossible to achieve.
It has also been brought to our attention that there is another force at work here to undermine our environmental policy, and that is the Religious Right of the Republican Party. From Theocracy Watch:
A group of Republican strategists who had worked on Barry Goldwater’s 1964 presidential campaign were worried. Goldwater had been soundly defeated, and the strategists feared that the base of the Republican Party — primarily southern segregationists and the very wealthy — was too narrow. So they set out to expand the base calling themselves the New Right. Goldwater was not part of the New Right.
One member of the New Right, Republican Strategist Paul Weyrich, founded the Heritage Foundation in 1973 — a think tank to promote the ideas of the New Right. Weyrich also founded ALEC, The American Legislative Exchange Council in 1973 to coordinate the work of Religious Right state legislators. ALEC initially positioned itself as a counterweight to liberal foundations and think tanks, focusing on social issues like abortion and the Equal Rights Amendment, but became a magnet for corporate lobbyists.
In 1979 Weyrich coined the term “Moral Majority.” Their goal was to politicize members of fundamentalist, Pentecostal and charismatic churches – a constituency that had been basically apolitical.
Not all members of fundamentalist, Pentecostal and charismatic churches support the Religious Right, but those were the groups targeted by the New Right. And some members of churches outside of those mentioned support the Religious Right, while many other Christian leaders strongly oppose them.
About the Religious Right and the Environment:
This disregard for the environment reflects core values of the theocratic right, a movement strongly allied with big corporations. The theocratic right should not be confused with Evangelicals, a group that covers the entire political spectrum.
The Texas Republican Party Platform, a document that reflects the goals of the theocratic right, opposes efforts to regulate industry by affirming a belief in “a strong and vibrant private sector unencumbered by excessive government regulation.” It calls for abolishing the Environmental Protection Agency, and reaffirms “the belief in the fundamental right of an individual to use property without governmental interference.” It also opposes conservation easements administered by nonprofits.
Deregulation of industry lies at the heart of the Religious Right agenda. The Washington Post has published a three-part series detailing how the Bush administration is systematically dismantling the regulatory functions of government in ways that are not obvious and receive little public debate. The lifting of regulations by the Bush administration is devastating to the environment and public health.
An impending sense of “end times” is good news for that portion of the Religious Right that sees destruction of the earth as fulfillment of Biblical Prophecy. Those who don’t seek “end times,” blame resource depletion on environmentalists who view natural resources as limited. Secular society “lack(s) faith in God’s providence and consequently, men will find fewer resources… The Christian knows that the potential in God is unlimited and that there is no shortage of resources in God’s earth.”
The Religious Right also seeks to Increase Material Wealth, Plunder Natural Resources:
The Bush administration and members of the Religious Right in Congress have waged a virtual war on the environment since taking office. Bush has packed the Environmental Protection Agency with industry lobbyists; the Texas GOP Platform calls for abolishing the agency.
Beliles and McDowell explain that a Christian’s primary responsibility is to create material wealth and God will increase natural resources accordingly. Secular society, which views natural resources as limited,
“lack(s) faith in God’s providence and consequently, men will find fewer resources… The Christian knows that the potential in God is unlimited and that there is no shortage of resources in God’s earth.” (197)
Given this view of natural resources as infinitely renewable, it is not surprising that the top ranking leaders of the U.S. House and Senate, all who support a Religious Right agenda, have 100% ratings from Christian Coalition and 0-8% from the environmental League of Conservation Voters, a consortium of environmental groups.
With unlimited natural resources, there is no such thing as overpopulation.
“Christians know that God has made the earth sufficiently large with plenty of resources to accommodate all the people.” (197)
This belief in God’s ever-expanding base of natural resources explains the Bush administration’s willingness to plunder the environment and oppose funding for international family planning where abortions might be performed.
While the powers that be in some of the highest offices in the world battle it out over the environmental policy we have in place and that for the future, the clock is ticking on us reaching a tipping point and setting in motion an unstoppable climate shift, which could be disastrous to all life as we know it. In 2010 we broke the record for co2 emissions, and Global CO2 emissions rising faster than worst-case scenarios. Our current atmospheric CO2 for March 2012 is 394.45 ppm, with 350 ppm considered the threshold before we breach that tipping point and suffer devastating effects from climate change. According to 350.org, 350 is the number that leading scientists say is the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide—measured in “Parts Per Million” in our atmosphere. 350 PPM—it’s the number humanity needs to get back to as soon as possible to avoid runaway climate change.
When the powers that be on climate change meet June 20-22, 2012 for the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, they will be discussing environmental policy across the globe that will affect us all. Being an election year and the current mindset in American politics, or business should I say, I would not hope, or expect any earth shattering developments, at least not from the U.S., however ALEC is under heat now, and soon the Religious Right will be too, not to mention after the elections, that is, if the right people win that will help protect the environment like President Obama, then we will have a much better chance of developing an environmental policy that will address climate change and keep in place the protections we currently enjoy.
While we have little control over what our government, China’s government, or other companies and people treat the environment, we can create our own environmental policy, or create one for our business, or work, or even community! We don’t have to limit this to a governmental policy, but can do it locally as well, for we all know how long it usually takes government policy to get going, usually quite a long time in our experience. So we can walk the walk at least in our own neighborhoods and homes and workplaces! Peace my friends!