Volume 1, Issue 1 (March 2024) – 6 articles

Cover Story (View full-size image):
Private property and public commons each represent strongly felt concepts of society but in very different ways. While the protection of private property is at the heart of the capitalist system and deeply embedded in our laws, the protection of the public commons is a mere subset of government policies and often lacks regulation. Critically, natural commons such as air, water, biodiversity, and a habitable earth, are hardly protected at all. Environmental laws regulate use and protection of natural “resources” in a strict instrumental fashion, ignoring the intrinsic value of Nature and taking the integrity of Earth’s ecological systems for granted. They ignore complexities of human-nature relations and overlook the importance of ecological integrity for all efforts towards creating sustainable societies. Not just environmental laws, but laws regulating private property and public commons must all be grounded in ecological sustainability as a fundamental norm.  View this manuscript

Article

11 May 2023

Roots of (and Solutions to) our Ecological Crisis. A Humanistic Perspective

Research into the sources of contemporary ecological crisis as well as ways to overcome it has been conducted for several decades. Rich academic literature provides numerous attempts to identify the causes of the crisis and its solutions. The ecological crisis is extremely complex and variously conditioned. Therefore, I focus on determining only two sources of the crisis and, respectively, two solutions. Since the late 1960s, monotheistic religions, Christianity in particular, have been made responsible for the environmental crisis. Christianity is accused of forwarding two theses which are harmful to the environment: 1. The sole purpose of nature is to serve man. 2. By God’s will, man is endowed with unlimited power over nature. I attempt to overcome this understanding of the source of the crisis by showing the interpretation of the Bible which contradicts the above-mentioned theses. Moreover, I show “the ecological potential” of the Judeo-Christian and Muslim traditions. As the second source of the crisis I indicate modern thought: 1. Man’s alienation from nature as the result of the Cartesian division of reality into res cogitans and res extensa. 2. Francis Bacon’s program: the study of nature is the task of natural sciences alone; nature is devoid of value in itself. 3. The mathematization of nature made it possible for the natural and technical sciences to develop rapidly, which contributed to the industrial revolution. I look for an antidote to this cause of the crisis in Klaus M. Meyer-Abich’s idea of man’s peace with nature which he developed as part of the practical philosophy of nature. I believe that revealing our inseparable bond with nature and showing compassion towards nature may help overcome the destructive consequences of modern thought. 

Article

22 May 2023

Private Property and Public Commons: Narrowing the gap

Private property and public commons each represent strongly felt concepts of society but in very different ways. While the protection of private property is at the heart of the capitalist system and deeply embedded in our laws, the protection of the public commons is a mere subset of government policies and often lacks firm regulations. Critically, natural commons such as air, water, biodiversity, and a habitable earth, are hardly protected at all. Environmental laws regulate use and protection of natural “resources” in a strict instrumental fashion, ignoring the intrinsic value of Nature and take Earth’s ecological systems for granted. This article traces the “hidden logic” of environmental law and explores some of the history of property and the commons in the European context. It then shows the fundamental importance of ecological integrity for all efforts towards sustainable societies. The overall thesis is that property and commons must be based on ecological sustainability as a fundamental norm of law.

Editorial

28 July 2023

Article

01 September 2023

The Priority of Nature-based over Engineered Negative Emission Technologies: Locating BECCS and DACCS within the Hierarchy of International Climate Law

Drastically reducing emissions is essential to achieve the Paris Agreement’s (PA) goal of keeping global temperature well below 2 °C, ideally at 1.5 °C. With regard to residual emissions, however, a demand for negative emission technologies (NETs), also known as carbon dioxide removal (CDR), remains. NETs are particularly necessary to reach net-zero goals by offsetting emissions in hard-to-abate sectors. This article examines the distinction between “engineered” and “nature-based” removals from the perspective of international climate change law. To that end, the relevant legal norms in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Kyoto Protocol (KP), and the PA are interpreted—with a particular emphasis on two engineered removals: bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) and direct air carbon capture and storage (DACCS). We posit that the three treaties establish a normative hierarchy that is more favorable towards so-called nature-based removals and less favorable to engineered removals (and even more favorable towards emission reductions).

Article

30 November 2023

From Olive Branch to Olive Tree—Global Green Demilitarization and Ecological Civilization

In 2007, a report to the 17th National People’s Congress in Beijing introduced the concept of Ecological Civilization (EC) (Shēngtài Wénmíng 生态文明) to the official lexicon of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). With origins in the state discourse of the Soviet Union of the 1980s, the term gained new forms of traction in China and abroad as it drew from ecological Marxism, constructive postmodernism, and process philosophy to propose a new technic of statecraft and international cooperation for the development of long-term, global ecological justice and sustainability. In 2012, the constitution of the People’s Republic of China enshrined the goals of EC as a primary national objective, promulgating specific policies on environmental management, green technology, and ideological development. Although some critics view EC discourse as the epitome of authoritarian environmentalism, others cite the PRC’s remarkable strides in developing green technologies and assuming leadership in international treaty negotiations, such as the COP 15, as evidence that the CCP is taking on a new role in global environmental leadership. Beyond the immediate concerns of EC’s performative dimensions, rigorous analysis of EC as a discursive political strategy is critical for understanding its potential for opening spaces of unprecedented international cooperation on planetary environmental governance. While skepticism is in order, facile reductions of the scope of Shēngtài Wénmíng discourse to mere propaganda designed to disguise authoritarian environmentalism marks a dangerous foreclosure on what could very well emerge as a workable vision of international cooperation to solve ecological and social crises arising from the global climate emergency, the Sixth Mass Extinction, and severe regional disparities in resource access. Strong EC theory and practice ascribe transcendent value to the earth’s biogeochemical systems as the very oikos (οίκος)—the ecological home within which human economy and infrastructure engage with more-than-human forces constitutive of “nature” to co-create our shared terrestrial world. Within this highly variegated terrestrial ecology, with its multiplicity of biomes, human and more-than-human potentials can be realized for mutual benefit—the essential condition for sustainability. Given these considerations, to dismiss PE discourse in summary fashion constitutes a grave mistake and an act of bad faith. This analysis reconceptualizes the oikos as deeply similar to the East Asian philosophical concept of Tiānxià (天下) and, concomitantly, equates the Western conception of cosmos (σύμπαν) with the Daoist and Confucian concept of (Tiān天).This vision of wealth and common property embodied in the global biospheric commons grounds, reproduces, and inflects the human terrestrial condition. The mechanism for achieving global EC involves the overcoming of the fundamental contradictions between classical paradigms of industrial development and emerging conceptions of ecological resilience, by fast-tracking ecological development at all terrestrial scales on a foundation of unprecedented international cooperation and social justice. This includes the treatment of scarce mineral resources, which are required to meet the growing global demand for green technologies and mitigate the disastrous effects of global climate change, as common pool resources. EC comprises a radical and crucial reconfiguration of geopolitical theory and practice based on a new ecological ethics for the Anthropocene Epoch. This readjustment of international relations to meet actually existing global crises cannot be realized without a concomitant and symmetrical system of demilitarization based on the transfer of resources, materiel, personnel, expertise, and security policy out of the global military-industrial complex, which centers on monocentric geographic realms (East Asia, North America, the EU, South Asia, and Russia) and a series of shifting alliances the G-7, NATO, the UN. The United States and China currently enjoy an unprecedented degree of prominence and agency on the world stage. They must, for that very reason, play leading roles in global demilitarization. The most effective means of insuring multilateral involvement in this process, and the protocol with the largest peace dividends, is called Global Green Demilitarization. This article provides the philosophical, ethical, and political groundwork to replace destructive practices of resource competition with diplomatic processes leading to international, multilateral, and global Ecological Civilization. The road will be long and perhaps the way will be arduous, but the rewards will exceed the difficulties, consisting, as they will, of a thriving planet and a dynamic, peaceful, and equitable civilization in the 21st century and for the remainder of the third millennium.

Article

23 May 2024

Proposal for A Systemic Human Ecological Turn for Health Science and Medicine

Industrial development processes, accompanied by extreme growth processes, regards world population, pollution, food production and the exploitation of natural resources have caused severe ecological problems. This has been well known since 1972 through the study ‘The Limits to Growth’, in which humanity and the world society was called upon to make an ecological turn and to change its consumption model and the type of economic development that was not suited to finite natural resources (or a finite planet). However, the relationships between the state of the environment and human health have hardly been considered, although an ecological view of health was already proposed by Hippocrates, and as in the meantime, the technical terms “Environmental Health” and “Environmental Medicine” have become established at universities. It is only in recent times that global terms such as climate medicine, One Health, Eco Health, etc. have become powerful pragmatic and action-oriented initiatives. They can be understood as calls for a worldwide health-related ‘ecologization’ of (health) culture. Regarding these approaches we highlight theoretical and metatheoretical aspects, since in general, any real action is only as good as the analytical quality of the plan that serves as a guide for that action. From this point of view, we find that these approaches exhibit striking weaknesses. These are, among other things: the neglect of epistemological challenges combined with inconsistent conceptualizations of the category environment, the very superficial models of human beings, weaknesses of ecological frameworks in relation to the macro-, meso- and micro-eco-social levels of the targeted topics, and a vague notion of systems methodology. Following on from this, we call for an explicit social-/human-ecological framework (New Viennese School, Australian School) for environmental health issues as it has been established for decades in the field of environmental, sustainability and transformation sciences.

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