Following several discussions about how to enact environmental policy, this post is a negotiation of my comprehension. But before I begin, I must admit one crucial realization: the arena of environmental policy is one with which I am unfamiliar. I understand the motivating force(s) behind its construction and implementation (or lack thereof), but I am heretofore naÃ¯ve about the real ways and reasons it all unfolds. Posts and comments on this blog have thus far dealt mainly with different ideas for bridging the gap between perceived dualisms, like science and policy. But how does such discussion act as a springboard for more concrete understandings and, most significantly, applications of this knowledge?
I do recognize that environmental policy is intricately linked with the predominant global economic system â€“ namely, capitalism. Concepts such as â€œsocial capitalâ€ come into fruition because we understand that this cultureâ€™s ultimate ideals revolve around economic profit or benefit, despite simultaneous ties to conservation and preservation. Thomas Homer-Dixon, aforementioned on this blog, proposes a â€œno-growth economyâ€ because he, like his predecessors, recognizes that change is not likely to be effected unless the worlds of money and nature are somehow separated. But this is not a realistic endeavour.
Curious how the Internet â€“ our dominant medium for communication â€“ would respond, and I what its input would bring, I Googled the term â€œenvironmental policy.â€ It brought me 293,000,000 results. I clicked on the first, titled, â€œHow to Write an Environmental Policy.â€ The resulting web-page provides methodical instructions for non-governmental organizations and companies to create and implement basic environmental protocols. Outlining seven easy steps, the web-page makes the process seem linear, efficient, and effective. The web-page suggests using the Internet as a means of effecting these policies. But the ease with which this is supposed to occur is obviously not the reality at larger scales of national and international authority. Because it costs too much?
â€œThe environmentâ€ is an ambiguous, arbitrary term, dependent on cultural values and perceptions, and thus â€œenvironmental policyâ€ is a blanket concept, which fails to convey specific meaning. How, then, can one enter into comprehension? How is it translated from subjectivity to applicability, or is it? Can it be? Vaccaro and Normanâ€™s in-press article, â€œSocial Sciences and Landscape Analysis,â€ provides an example of a more systematic approach to providing a necessary back-drop for conservation policy, incorporating the worlds of quantitative data collection with historical texts, spanning temporal and spatial layers. And this seems a more appropriate entryway for understanding and creating cultural-specific protocol, a more pragmatic combination of â€œsoftâ€ and â€œhardâ€ sciences.
It must be additionally noted, however, that the social sciences seem to possess an over-generalized understanding of ecology, and that non-anthropocentric ecological studies must be incorporated into the aforementioned historical and geographical layers. Environmental policy is not â€“ or in my mind should not be â€“ strictly centred on ensuring sustainability and derived pleasure for future generations of people.