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1. How does the concept of governmentality apply to environmental conservation and restoration? Discuss examples from various regions considering societal barriers that  intersect with the implementation of pro?environmental initiatives. 

2. Examine the kinds of settlement design proposed for a future with very low energy use. Are  these proposals technologically feasible and would they enable people to live sustainably?  Taking the point of view of an affluent consumer today, what would be the advantages and  disadvantages of such a lifestyle?

3. Environmentalists sometimes look to stateless (hunting and gathering or horticultural)  societies as a model for the sustainable use of nature. Is this an accurate picture of how  these societies operated?   Can any aspects of these societies be adopted to help us to  develop a sustainable society today?  

4. Many environmentalists call for the people of rich countries to embrace lifestyle change  right away, to save the environment, by living more simply.  Explain this perspective.  On the  other hand, other commentators claim that environmentally damaging consumption is built  into structures of the economy that are difficult to sidestep. Does this make voluntary  lifestyle change an unlikely route to environmental improvement? 

5. Is “civilization” (meaning living in cities with writing, social class and agriculture) a big  mistake that humanity may well regret  creating environmental destruction, alienated work  and poverty? Is collapse the most likely outcome of our current crisis? 

6. Anarchists and socialists are convinced that the problem with the environment is capitalism. Is this a good analysis?  What kinds of utopias do they propose as alternatives? Could they  work?

7. Environmentalists argue that high input agriculture destroys soils and reduces biodiversity as  well as depending on cheap and plentiful oil supplies. They also claim that more sustainable  alternatives can also be productive. Explain some of the alternatives being proposed for food  production and describe some of the initiatives being developed today. Nevertheless  unsustainable agriculture continues. Why is this?

The Concept of Governmentality and Environmental Protection

1. The protection and conservation of the environment has emerged as a main concern for all the States of the world. The aim of every State is to further its economic development so that it can achieve the fulfillment of its national interest and be capable to offer a high standard of living to its citizens. This race for economic development amongst the various States of the world is having disastrous consequence on the global environment (Rutherford, 2018). The process of industrialization, which is indispensable to higher economic growth, is the main culprit adversely affecting the environment (Rutherford, 2018). This has necessitated the States of the world to take immediate measures to protect the environment on a priority basis. The two main obligations of the State – to achieve higher economic development and to take measures to protect and conserve the environment – are often in conflict with each other. It is in this sphere that the concept of governmentality becomes imperative. Governmentality was first conceptualized by Michael Foucault, a French philosopher. It means the art of being governed (Lemke, 2015). Thus, the Governments of the various States decide when economic development should take priority and when environmental protection should come to the forefront.

However, often times it is evidenced that there are certain societal barriers which prevent the successful implementation of environmental protection measures (Soneryd & Uggla, 2015). For instance, the Great Barrier Reef situated along the East Coast of Australia is under threat of extinction, mainly due to human activities. The activities of over fishing, dispensing garbage in the ocean water and water pollution caused thereby, the runaway of harmful pesticides used during agricultural practices into the small streams which meet with the Ocean, all prove to be harmful to the Coral Reef. The Coral Reef has started to bleach its color whereby the important organisms living there, are gradually dying. No matter how stringent actions are taken by the Government of Australia to protect the Coral Reef, societal activities are degrading it at a faster speed.

2. In the recent era of globalization and industrialization, the number of urban settlements have increased. This process of urbanization has led to the rapid growth of haphazard settlement structures. This signifies the need for a planned structure of settlement where the dwelling units would be environmentally friendly so that the contribution of global warming by the contemporary dwelling units, are largely reduced. Development of human settlement is one of the Sustainable Development Goals of 2030 (Kates, 2018). Reducing the carbon footprint from urban settlements is the main motive.

For this purpose, certain future dwelling strategies have been proposed which will be sustainable in nature and use very low energy (Yang & Yang, 2015). Dwelling units, which use maximum natural lighting, are preferred. Moreover, the ventilation method should be natural. All these proposals are cost effective and most importantly, environmental friendly. Buildings with attached solar panels are favorable to reduce global warming (Safronova, Nezhnikova & Kolhidov, 2017). Such buildings will use the energy generated by the Sun to power all the electrical appliances within the concerned building. This will help to reduce the generation of mechanical energy and hence, will be immensely beneficial to the society. With the level of development in modern technology, the proposals are technologically feasible and they will help to reduce the burden on the environment since the natural elements will be used.

For an affluent customer, the proposals for a sustainable dwelling unit will not be highly compelling. The main attraction of the proposed sustainable settlement is the cost effectiveness (Kates, 2018). It is disadvantageous for a wealthy customer, as she would prefer to design her house with the latest fashion trends and technologies, which might not be environmentally friendly. On the other hand, it is advantageous, as it would help the customer to save on her expenses.

3. Certain environmentalists have proposed the idea that the society must be structured according to the stateless society as existed in the pre-societal times, as this would be beneficial to the environment. They believe that the mindless rampage of environmental resources in the modern times is harmful for the world. The modern technological developments have facilitated industries and the common man to collect the required resources with ease and in a minimal time frame (Meyer, Pope & Isaacson, 2015). However, if society were to be structured, as it existed in the pre-societal times, then these technologies would no longer be used to exploit the environment. Instead, human beings would now have to depend on the primitive techniques of hunting animals for food and gathering wood for cooking, for survival.

Sustainable Settlement Designs for Low Energy Use

The concerned environmentalists, although true to their beliefs and intentions of protecting the environment from further degradation, failed to take certain important aspects of the primitive societies into cognizance. The concept of ‘slash and burn’ for agricultural purposes originated in the stateless society (Dauvergne & Clapp, 2016). There was no mechanism for the proper disposal of garbage. Sanitation was lacking among the individuals belonging to those times, as there was no concept of personal space.

Human beings have evolved through the times. They have devised measures to protect and conserve the environment they live in. In the race for higher levels of economic development, the conservation of environment often takes a back seat. However, this does not mean that the very agency of State should be abolished. It is the State who has the obligation to protect the environment. The State has the power to formulate policies and implement them in a stringent manner. However, the State can adopted several policies from the primitive societies for the conservation of the environment, such as preservation of the trees, using natural manure for agricultural practices, hunting only enough for self-sufficiency, thereby reducing wastage of food and protection the fauna (Widerquist & McCall, 2015).  Thus, the primitive societies can inspire the formulation of State policies, but modern technologies are indispensable for the effective execution of such policies.

4. The lifestyle of the people in the developed countries of the Western world varies widely from that of the people living in the Eastern Hemisphere. The countries of the Western world are developed, and hence, the per capita income of the individuals in this part of the world is higher than the developing and the under developed countries of the Eastern world (Lorenzen, 2016). The people of the Western world lead a very exquisite lifestyle, wearing comparatively expensive clothes made out of animal skin, consuming food very rich in protein and availing private transport, which results in the generation of carbon particles that are harmful for the environment.

The environmentalists are of the opinion that such lifestyle is damaging to the environment. They opine that these concerned people should lead a simpler life, where they avail public transport, thereby reducing their contribution to air pollution (van der Vliet et al., 2018). Moreover, they should also avoid the donning of clothes made out of animal skin. Such clothes are expensive and people who are status conscious purchase them, but many animals are harmed in their making.

However, many environmentalists claim that it is not the people but rather certain structures of the State, which are degrading the environment. Economic development is the main aim of every State but in order to develop, the establishments of industries are necessary. The high level of production will determine a higher level of economic development. The process of industrialization makes a significant contribution to air pollution and global warming. Thus, the voluntary change in lifestyle of an individual will do little more than make a contribution to protection of environment. To make a significant change, it is the structures of the State that needs to be reorganized on sustainable lines.

5. Civilization refers to that social setting where the social and economic development of humankind is at its finest (Kao & Chou, 2017). The era of industrialization and globalization introduced many new changes in the civilizational structure of the world. Majority of the people nowadays live in the cities and possess the necessary educational qualification. Those people who have higher educational qualification usually possess more wealth. A nature of inequality exist between the people having wealth and the people who had to work to earn a minimum standard of living continued to increase at an exponential rate ever since (Kao & Chou, 2017). The people with wealth could exploit the resources of the Earth and, as a consequence, could generate higher revenues. However, the common person had less access to materials limited by their purchasing power. This social setting aggravated the problem of poverty. Thus, there is often a view that the birth of civilization has meant the beginning of the end of environment.  

The process of industrialization gravely exploits the natural resources of the Earth, at a higher rate than the time taken by the environment to recuperate (Mayo, 2014). This leads to environmental degradation. Consequent with industrialization is also the problem of poverty. The employers exploit the workers to work hard but do not pay the deserving remuneration to them. This leads to the wealthy people getting more rich while the poor becomes poorer, which then results in poverty.

However, the end of civilization is not the answer to protection and conservation of the environment. The presence of civilization is essential for humankind; the establishment of the State gives order and purpose to human life. The State also seeks to protect the rights and freedom of the human beings (Mayo, 2014). The collapse of civilization will undo all the hard work and perseverance needed from human kind to attain the level of development as is witnessed in the contemporary world. Instead, the agency of the State should take the necessary measures to protect and conserve the environment from degradation. Moreover, it should seek to reduce the inequalities between the people with wealth and those without. Everyone should have equal access to the natural resources of the Earth.

6. The Anarchists and the Socialists are of the view that capitalism is the root cause for the degradation of the environment. They opine that the process of industrialization which emerged as a result of the capitalist power structure, has exploited the natural resources of the Earth (Berg, 2016). Industries require raw materials in order to carry out the process of production. Higher the level of production, higher will be the revenues earned by the capitalists running the industries. However, since the raw materials are obtained from the limited resources available on Earth, a rapid exploitation of such minerals will lead to the exhaustion of such resources. This will lead to an irreversible degradation of the environment. Thus, the Anarchists and the Socialists blame the capitalists for their alleged participation in the destruction of the environment. The analysis of the Socialists and the Anarchists with respect to the Capitalists might hold true to some extent. However, this is not a mandate. The process of industrialization is absolutely necessary for the desired economic development of a country and this process of industrialization will not necessarily lead to degradation of the environment (Harper, Harper & Snowden, 2017). There are many other factors which causes environmental degradation such as the generation of methane from the pesticides used in agricultural fields and the air pollution which is a result of over population. Thus, the analysis provided by the Anarchists and the Socialists is not a good analysis

Lessons from Stateless Societies for Environmental Conservation

The Anarchists and the Socialists propose the dissolution of the civilizational framework that is present now. They advocate the adoption of a structure of society as it existed during the primitive times, that is, without the agency of the State (Berg, 2016). They believe that the human activities of hunting animals and food gathering will cause less environmental degradation.  However, the alternative proposed by them is not viable, as the present social structure cannot be dissolved. The technological advancements of the modern times are more than capable to protect and conserve the environment, if they are utilized in their true purpose and to their full potential.

7. The requirement of food is increasing at an exponential rate with the increase in the population of the world. The scientist of the world discovered several important inputs that would contribute to the increase in the production of agricultural crops (Clark & Tilman, 2017). During the initial days of the discovery of such fertilizers. They were used in large quantities; however, soon, their adverse effects came to the notice of the common man. The pesticides used, even till now, are harmful for the children as they hinder the development of the brain of a child. Moreover, when these pesticides mix with the water sources, they contaminate them. This water is consumed by human beings and causes serious health problems. The contaminated water also poses a problem for the fish population, whose survival comes into question is such impure water.

Several alternatives have been proposed to the use of artificial fertilizers such as the use of natural fertilizers. The most common natural fertilizer is the excreta of the cow (Chen et al., 2014). However, even this poses a problem, as this is the primary source for the generation of methane gas, which is an important contributor to global warming.

The level of agricultural production increases exponentially when the artificial fertilizers are used, as compared to the natural fertilizers (Davis et al., 2016). The farmers, in their objective of earning higher profits, thus, use the artificial fertilizers in spite of their harmful aspects. Thus, agriculture still remains highly unsustainable even in the present times.

References:

Berg, M. (2016). An Ecological Critique of Capitalism.

Chen, X., Cui, Z., Fan, M., Vitousek, P., Zhao, M., Ma, W., ... & Deng, X. (2014). Producing more grain with lower environmental costs. Nature, 514(7523), 486.

Clark, M., & Tilman, D. (2017). Comparative analysis of environmental impacts of agricultural production systems, agricultural input efficiency, and food choice. Environmental Research Letters, 12(6), 064016.

Dauvergne, P., & Clapp, J. (2016). Researching global environmental politics in the 21st century. Global Environmental Politics, 16(1), 1-12.

Davis, K. F., Gephart, J. A., Emery, K. A., Leach, A. M., Galloway, J. N., & D’Odorico, P. (2016). Meeting future food demand with current agricultural resources. Global Environmental Change, 39, 125-132.

Harper, C., Harper, C. L., & Snowden, M. (2017). Environment and society: Human perspectives on environmental issues. Routledge.

Kao, H. L., & Chou, H. M. (2017, May). Observing the conflict between human civilisation and Mother Nature in environmental changes on Easter Island. In Applied System Innovation (ICASI), 2017 International Conference on (pp. 896-898). IEEE.

Kates, R. W. (2018). What is sustainable development?.

Lemke, T. (2015). Foucault, governmentality, and critique. Routledge.

Lorenzen, J. A. (2016). Green lifestyles and micropolitics: pragmatist action theory and the connection between lifestyle change and collective action. In Microsociological Perspectives for Environmental Sociology (pp. 97-113). Routledge.

Mayo, E. (2014). The social problems of an industrial civilisation. Routledge.

Meyer, J., Pope, S., & Isaacson, A. (2015). Legitimating the transnational corporation in a stateless world society. Corporate social responsibility in a globalizing world, 25-72.

Rutherford, S. P. (2018). Green governmentality. In Companion to Environmental Studies (Vol. 205, No. 208, pp. 205-208). ROUTLEDGE in association with GSE Research.

Safronova, N., Nezhnikova, E., & Kolhidov, A. (2017). Sustainable Housing Development in Conditions of Changing Living Environment. In MATEC Web of Conferences (Vol. 106, p. 08024). EDP Sciences.

Soneryd, L., & Uggla, Y. (2015). Green governmentality and responsibilization: new forms of governance and responses to ‘consumer responsibility’. Environmental Politics, 24(6), 913-931.

van der Vliet, N., Staatsen, B., Kruize, H., Morris, G., Costongs, C., Bell, R., ... & Máca, V. (2018). The INHERIT Model: A Tool to Jointly Improve Health, Environmental Sustainability and Health Equity through Behavior and Lifestyle Change. International journal of environmental research and public health, 15(7), 1435.

Widerquist, K., & McCall, G. (2015). Myths about the State of Nature and the Reality of Stateless Societies. Analyse & Kritik, 37(1-2), 233-258.

Yang, J., & Yang, Z. (2015). Critical factors affecting the implementation of sustainable housing in Australia. Journal of Housing and the Built Environment, 30(2), 275-292.

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