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The causes of environmental injustice

The causes of environmental injustice

Chapter:
(p.33) THREE The causes of environmental injustice
Source:
Achieving environmental justice
Author(s):
Karen Bell
Publisher:
Policy Press
DOI:10.1332/policypress/9781447305941.003.0003

The environmental justice literature broadly offers five competing explanations for environmental injustice: discrimination; market dynamics; lack of citizen power; industrialisation; and capitalism. The wider environmental literature, which corresponds to the ‘substantive’ aspect of environmental justice, emphasises some of the same themes and, in addition, includes a further two causal themes, those of ‘individual behaviour or life-styles’ and ‘culture’. This chapter outlines the debates relating to each of these themes but focuses on capitalism, which, it is argued, is a root determinant of environmental injustice. It also introduces the idea of Damaging Hegemonic Environmental Discourses (DHEDs). These are important because they directly affect the attitudes, beliefs and values of the general public. DHEDs include the following interconnected ideas, assumptions and values: There is a linear rationality to the universe; complex, modern or ‘high’ technology is preferable to more basic or traditional technology; the environment is, or can be, separate from humans; the environment is of minimal importance for human health; growth is ‘good’ and/or ‘necessary’; the environment needs to be owned and controlled.

Keywords:   Damaging Hegemonic Environmental Discourses, environmental justice and discrimination, market dynamics, lack of citizen power, industrialisation, capitalism, culture, lifestyle, human needs

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