Home > Uncategorized > The ever lacking historic perspective

The ever lacking historic perspective

One of the emerging topics in Environmental Justice is toxic trading especially as it relates to international relations. What once was a debate focused on the location of dumps in economically challenged cities has expanded to a business of trading toxic waste with economic challenged countries.  In order to diagnose the formation and the remediation of current toxic waste trading trends, further analysis of the current economic, social, and political situation of the community receiving the waste is needed.

Nicholas low and Brendan Gleeson’s article” Justice within the Global Environment” from Justice, society and Nature: An exploration of political ecology focuses mostly on the effect of the first world countries on toxic trading.  They point out that those in charge of global environmental regulations were only representing the world leaders.  This ignores the voices of the economically struggling nations, who are those most in need of protection.

Those countries that do not have the ability to defend themselves on the financial market are at a disadvantage in political negotiations for many reasons.  The most notably is their lack the financial power and education to understand the political role they are being forced to play.  This, in turn, leads to the different social history between countries of the world.  What was a power struggle for conquering lands for resources has turned into concurring land for waste disposal.

These very dynamic power struggles expose multi-dimensional aspects that do not fit well into a cookie-cutter explanation of the history of injustice, even when narrowed down to the toxic trading.  It is part of a game that is generations in the making and unfortunately generations in changing.  Low and Gleeson give a good history of the political history of toxic waste trading and highlighting the injustice from the start. However, as demonstrated in Gordon Walker’s novel Environmental Justice: Concepts, Evidence and Politics, this is by no means the whole story and one case study does not bring a holistic view to a global issue.

Unfortunately, with a lot of topics in the environmental justice field, while there may be patterns, it is critically important to treat each case as a new experience with the previous discussion as a basis of knowledge. As current events become history articles, and new and different environmental justice topic surface, by far the most important skill is the ability to apply the past knowledge to the ever changing world.

Low, Nicholas, and Brendan Gleeson. Justice, Society, and Nature: An Exploration of Political Ecology. London: Routledge, 1998. Print.
Walker, Gordon. Environmental Justice: Concepts, Evidence and Politics. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2012. Print.
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