Political Ecology Network

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Weaponizing Nature

By Patrick Bigger and Benjamin Neimark*

Military excursions into low carbon fuels is not a case of military greenwashing but rather one of ‘weaponizing nature’, an approach perpetuating an interventionist US foreign policy linked to environmental change.

If we ever think about the military as environmental actor, it is most likely related to the damage to nature wrought by conflict and war. From nuclear sacrifice zones in the Pacific to neo-imperial wars undertaken in part for control of oil, the most powerful militaries in the world have outsized access to resources and ever-expanding environmental impacts. While political ecologists have helped us understand the environmental causes and consequences of military actions, a path less taken is to look at how militaries understand themselves as environmental actors considering changes in geopolitical and environmental conditions. Continue reading

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What can we do about the media? Own it, suggests Vanessa Baird.

Author: Vanessa Baird

We are living in a time full of threats – and unprecedented possibilities.

It’s hard to imagine a more toxic combination than fake news and climate denial.

And when the two become the official policy of the most powerful nation in the world, it’s hard not to believe that we are all going to hell in a handcart.

So what’s there to be positive about? Continue reading

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Imagining a transformative environmental justice research agenda

By: Hannah Gray

Across the globe, environmental justice struggles over the right way to govern and use natural resources are increasing, and so is the attention being paid to studying and understanding these environmental conflicts. The Global Environmental Justice Group at the University of East Anglia (UEA) is a case in point, where empirical approaches to analysing environmental justice struggles are being used to analyse a variety of issues in different locations, including water resources in the middle East, marine protected areas in India, indigenous territories in Latin America, forest governance in Laos, and nature conservation in East Africa. Continue reading

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Nature is priceless, which is why turning it into ‘natural capital’ is wrong


By and

For: The Conversation

An increasingly popular line of argument is that, by turning nature into capital, it is possible to reconcile a capitalist growth economy with conservation. In this way, proponents assert, conservation can be expressed in a language that economists, policy-makers and CEOs understand.

But this strategy is not just self-defeating. It is a dangerous illusion that masks the way capitalist growth undermines conservation itself.

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Multi-layered mountain: Mt. Kenya’s hidden conflicts


By: Lys-Anne Sirks for Vice Versa

Control and access over land is an important issue that often causes conflict, yet what goes on behind the larger problem is often hidden and multi-faceted. The journey of how Mount Kenya became a World Heritage site shows how a complex, colonial background came into play and ultimately shaped the process and outcome.
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The fallacy of ecosystem services


By: Bente Meindertsma for Vice Versa

In our capitalist society, nature is increasingly defined as a service to mankind. Governments, companies and NGO’s assign value to certain features of nature in order to preserve it. ‘This is a convenient way to see nature, because it matches the way our economy is set up’, explains Vijay Kolinjivadi, researcher at McGill University. However, imposing this framework on local communities is a form of green colonization Continue reading

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Silent protest: women in Indonesia’s oil palm industry

By: Rosalie Koevoets for Vice Versa

The oil palm industry brings to mind the image of men using large mechanical tools and carrying heavy loads of fruit. However, across Indonesia’s palm oil producing regions, women are frequently seen working on plantations alongside men. In fact, women form the backbone to the country’s most important industry. Yet, the voices of women in the struggle against oil palm companies are often marginalized. Continue reading