The growing metabolism of the world economy implies increasing ecological distribution conflicts. The economy is not circular, it is entropic. A non-growing industrial economy would still require “fresh” supplies of fossil fuels and of other materials. In the EJAtlas (www.ejatlas.org) we are mapping many of those ecological distribution conflicts on extraction, transport, and waste disposal.
Latin America increased the tonnage of extracted materials by a factor of four between 1970 and 2008. They also increased physical exports very much. They export much more than they import in physical terms, but now after 2014-15 they have negative commercial balances, they devalue, and become poorer. We can understand mining and oil extraction conflicts, or resistance against tree plantations for paper pulp or agro-fuels, or also the international conflict caused by unequal access to the carbon dioxide sinks (oceans) or the temporary ‘reservoir’ (atmosphere).
The ‘environmentalism of the poor and the indigenous’ combines livelihood, cultural, social, economic and environmental issues. These movements draw on a sense of local identity (indigenous rights and values such as the sacredness of the land). There is a counter-movement (as Karl Polanyi might have said) against what authors such as Acosta, Gudynas, Svampa in South America call the “extractivist” economy, i.e. economies geared to cheap exports, with unfavourable terms of trade.
Such movements for environmental justice and the ‘environmentalism of the poor and the indigenous’ of the South are the main allies of the Degrowth or Prosperity without Growth (or Steady-State Economy) movements of the North.
This media entry was a contribution to the special session „Global Environmental Justice in the Transition to Sustainability“ at the 5th International Degrowth Conference in Budapest in 2016.