Response to Prompt 2, Week 2: Environmental Democracy


This prompt implies that President Obama is responsible for environmental policies, however, it would be more appropriate to name the Senate Committee of Environment and Public Works and/or the Department of Energy/Interior/Agriculture as agencies responsible for environmental policies.    
In response to the prompt (reformist vs. radical approach to environmental policy), I’m fond of Dryzek’s interest in enhancing ecological values in liberal democracies by shifting the content of politics from anthropocentric values to biocentric values.  A reformist approach is most conducive to such a shift.  However, this is made difficult by what the reading named as institution capture, where special interests influence the goals and/or resources to achieve such goals of liberal democratic institutions.  

For example, the Environmental Protection Agency is swamped with responsibilities but lacks the funding to perform them.  While the EPA may have goals that favor advancing the environmental agenda (ie: enforcing the Clean Air and Water Act), its funding is targeted by special interests.   

Ultimately, the author of “Seeking Homo ecologicus” coalesced the views of the social scientists he quoted into “deliberative democracy,” an approach to democracy that, in an environmental context, values shifting the focus from “green goals to green processes,” in the words of Torgerson.  Modeling our liberal democracy as a deliberative democracy would successfully promote federal and state level changes in favor of sustainability, resource conservation, and investments in natural science research.  

Here’s a nice example of ideal reform in action: a clip from “And the Band Played On”, a movie about the spread of HIV in the 70’s – 80’s.  In this scene, an epidemiologist lashes out in a hearing with the Centers for Disease Control, which was dragging its feet instead of responding to the epidemic.  


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