Climate Change and Environmental Degradation

How did we get here?

Since the beginning of the (first) Industrial Revolution (which also marks the beginning of the Anthropocene), societies progressively transformed nature in dramatic ways. Peter Dickens, in his work "Reconstructing Nature: Alienation, Emancipation and the Division of Labour" establishes the historical context of the nexus human-work-nature that lead us into the current situation of extreme environmental degradation and climate change.


The dominating economic model takes into account the price of commodities (that result themselves from a manipulation of nature), labour and transport, but fails to fully address the environmental impacts. The extensive use of fossil fuels has contributed to the accumulation of greenhouse gases (GHG) on the atmosphere which disrupted the "natural" patterns of climate.


In parallel, events like the Green Revolution, with all its benefits in terms of food production, has also contributed to environmental degradation by increasing the dependence of pesticides and fertilisers in agriculture. Furthermore, genetic manipulation of seeds may create a dependency from the farmers vis-à-vis large corporations, but also introducing crops that can be more vulnerable to pests, due to their lack of diversity, particularly when associated with the increasing use of monocultures.


Unfortunately, the rise in the awareness of the general public regarding environmental degradation, loss of biodiversity (plants, animals and natural habitats) and climate change does not reflect into meaningful and large scale actions to correct the devastating environmental consequences socially constructed during the Anthropocene.


Ecologist movements are more concerned with finding ways to contain the inevitable consequences of climate change and environmental degradation than they are  engaged with a vision to integrate environment in the social, political and economic realms, which would require a shift of the existent lifestyle choices and ultimately a change of development model.

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Vulnerabilities

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Why do we need to consider vulnerabilities?

Even though the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation will be felt worldwide, not all populations will have the same level of resilience. In practice, the geographical location and the social, economic and environmental conditions will all affect the vulnerability to climate change, and therefore the possible adaptation strategies that can and will be employed.

So now what ?

Mitigation

Strategies associated with reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions

Adaptation

Even if the most ambitious plans of reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions would be put in place today, a certain amount of climate change impacts are already visible. 

How do communities face those challenges?