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Nature's Revenge

Nature's Revenge: Reclaiming Sustainability in an Age of Corporate Globalization

Josée Johnston
Michael Gismondi
James Goodman
Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 330
  • Book Info
    Nature's Revenge
    Book Description:

    "An indispensable and timely collection which confronts the core questions at the multi-scale intersections of political ecology and political economy today." - Roger Keil, York University

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-0220-5
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-8)
  3. acknowledgements
    (pp. 9-10)
  4. Introduction

      (pp. 13-36)
      Josée Johnston, Michael Gismondi and James Goodman

      We all depend upon ecosystems. Exhaustion of the biosphere—deterioration of agricultural soils, collapse of fisheries, global warming, or decline of biodiversity—creates consequences for survival that cannot be indefinitely ignored or displaced. Forms of exhaustion are nonlinear and interconnected, as well as qualitatively and quantitatively different from anything previously experienced. As epitomized in the collapse of the Antarctic ice shelf, nature does not follow straight lines. While the warming of Antarctica occurred progressively and scientists charted it faithfully, the collapse of five billion tonnes of Antarctic ice in a matter of months saw nature cross an unpredicted threshold. The...


    • 2 Who Cares about the Commons?
      (pp. 39-72)
      Josée Johnston

      Sustainability has come to imply sustainable profits as much as saving the earth. Corporate oil-and-gas executives speak of sustainable levels of fossil-fuel emissions. Green entrepreneurs use sustainability claims as a market advantage over competitors. Businesses in multiple sectors, from car manufacturers to energy bars, develop sustainability plans for their operations. Given this linguistic hijacking, it becomes unclear how we are to adjudicate among competing environmental discourses and ways of life. What can be deemed genuinely sustainable? Is eating a Clif Bar more sustainable than eating a Power Bar?² Is driving an electric car truly sustainable, or are self-locomotion and public...

    • 3 Electricity Restructuring’s Dirty Secret: THE ENVIRONMENT
      (pp. 73-96)
      Marjorie Griffin Cohen

      Fairly little public discussion has taken place about the effect on the environment of restructuring North American electricity markets. The reluctance to look carefully at this subject stems in part from the contradictory messages that have been put forth by environmental groups. While some groups are skeptical of the claims that new “green” energy will readily meet new energy demands once prices reflect market demand, other environmental groups have actively supported the restructuring initiatives. But also significant has been governments’ willingness to undertake restructuring programs on the assumption that people will support these initiatives if they can be convinced that...

      (pp. 97-116)
      Andrew Biro

      Citing a Hollywood film from the 1970s may seem a strange way to begin an essay on Canadian water politics at the turn of the millennium. But Roman Polanski’s (1974)film noirclassic is, after all, about a conspiracy to manipulate water supply. And, as Mike Davis notes, the film’s story, about an artificially produced drought engineered for the accumulation of wealth, land, and power, provides a history of Los Angeles that is “more syncretic than fictional, [and where] the windfall profits of these operations welded the [city’s] ruling class together and capitalized lineages of power … that remain in...

    • 5 Corporate Social Responsibility and Codes of Conduct: THE FOX GUARDING THE CHICKEN COOP?
      (pp. 117-134)
      Ineke C. Lock

      From its origins in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, the North Saskatchewan River flows through the centre of the city of Edmonton, Alberta, on its way across the continent to Hudson Bay. Edmonton’s citizens are proud of the green spaces and parks along the river, the longest continuous greenbelt in Canada. Several ravines, with creeks flowing into the North Saskatchewan, join the valley. One of these, heavily wooded Mill Creek ravine, is a popular recreation space for walkers, bikers, joggers, and photographers and a habitat for wildlife. Some 800 businesses, a number using potentially harmful material, operate in the Mill Creek...


    • 6 The Nature of Local Reach
      (pp. 137-154)
      Michael Gismondi

      Activists and theorists have begun to assert the primacy and proximity of local places for a politics of sustainability. Against critics who argue that global capitalism has transformed most local “hotbeds of community” into “loose bunches of untied ends” (Bauman 1998: 24), others find that local struggles speak to many situations across the globe and offer new alternatives, imaginations, and hopes for reclaiming a politics of sustainability. Rooted in territories, ecologically attentive, often with access to democratic institutions, knowledge, and practices that predate globalism, local struggles construct strong place-bound “identities,” “strategies of localization,” and “political ecologies.” In a world where...

      (pp. 155-182)
      James Goodman

      Behind social, cultural, and ecological breakdown lie deeply engrained power relations, and in the first instance these operate at a planetary level, marking out an unprecedented consumption and development divide between North and South. In this context, there is no universal common interest, only winners and losers. Some sets of interests benefit from degradation, others suffer: “we are most certainly not all in this together” (Schrecker, quoted in Eichler 1999: 190). The key to contesting eco-social crises is to understand the integration of more and more aspects of existence into the circuit of capital, and how this extends the power...

    • 8 Local Participation and Sustainability: A STUDY OF THREE RURAL COMMUNITIES IN OAXACA, SOUTHERN MEXICO
      (pp. 183-202)
      Evelinda Santiago Jiménez and David Barkin

      The environmental crisis is the result of impoverishment resulting from the irrational use of natural resources. This crisis is generated in two ways: first, by the competitive struggle by producers to appropriate increasing volumes of natural resources for their own subsistence in order to transform them into merchandise, degrading the sites and producing toxic wastes in the process; and second, by an attempt by the local inhabitants in marginal zones, especially in Third World countries, to survive. From this perspective, then, the environmental crisis is also a social and cultural crisis that occurs along with depredation. In other words, while...

    • 9 Toward a Movement of Multiple Scales: THE CANADIAN JUBILEE 2000 INITIATIVE
      (pp. 203-224)
      Janet Conway

      Throughout the 1990s, a mass international mobilization for global action on Third World debt coalesced under the banner of Jubilee 2000.¹ The biblical notion of Jubilee was first invoked by the Pope to mark the year 2000 as a “new beginning.” Grounded in Leviticus 25, the Jubilee tradition calls for cancellation of debts, redistribution of wealth, and rest for the earth. It poses an ethical imperative to restore justice through regular social and economic restructuring and ecological regeneration.

      In Canada, the Canadian Ecumenical Jubilee Initiative (CEJI) organized an impressive, broadly based mobilization across the country in favour of debt cancellation...

      (pp. 225-244)
      Damian Grenfell

      S11, a campaign to shut down the World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in Melbourne, linked Australia into a loop of protests that have targeted trade and economic summits around the world. On 11 September 2000, the date from which the campaign drew its name, many thousands of people converged to protest against the Asia Pacific meeting of the WEF at Melbourne’s Crown Casino. An enormous riverbank construction, the casino was enclosed by concrete and steel barricades. These fortress-like barricades were reinforced by more than 2,000 police, while helicopters flew overhead, hi-tech surveillance systems monitored protesters, and security operatives worked among...

      (pp. 245-274)
      James Anderson

      A big question this book raises is whether or not a sustainable environment is possible under capitalism. Or, to put it another way, is capitalism sustainable? And if not, what then? It is the big question for the future—what future?—and the big question for the “anti-globalization” movement, currently the most powerful critical force addressing the issue of sustainability. To “only sustain” seems not a lot to ask, but it is an objective that is revolutionary in its implications.

      Indeed, the key issue here may be what sort of revolution, with what sort of outcomes, benign or malign? Even...

      (pp. 275-282)
      Josée Johnston, Michael Gismondi and James Goodman

      Sustainability might seem a hackneyed phrase of the 1990s, but finding ways of living within the Earth’s limits is a more urgent task than ever before. Global capitalism promotes collective denial about resource limits, at the same time as evidence mounts that current levels of resource consumption cannot be sustained. Awareness of ecological limits slips in and out of the public subconscious, appearing in hyperbolic forms like the 2003 Hollywood movieThe Day After Tomorrow, which dramatically depicts a future ice age brought on by global climate change. In one scene, the film’s heroes are literally running away from the...

  7. References
    (pp. 283-316)
  8. Contributors
    (pp. 317-318)
  9. Index
    (pp. 319-330)