Environmental values and political action

  • Papadakis E
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For several decades writers have posited a fundamental conflict between environmental protection and economic development. These arguments-linked to ideas of either an impending catastrophe (the environmentalist perspective) or human ingenuity and its capacity to deal with environmental threats through economic progress (the pro- development perspective)-have given rise to new political movements. This has prompted established political organisations to emphasise aspects of the environmentalist discourse (like preserving nature for future generations) and utilitarian arguments (like the recreational and aesthetic value of nature). Notions of sustainable development have been a pivotal feature of this response since they are founded on apparently conflicting values. This paper therefore uses recent survey research to explore the relationship between values (be they 'ecocentric' or pro-development or utilitarian) and political predispositions relating to the environment. The central findings relate to the strong link between political predispositions and ecocentric or pro- development values, the weak link with utilitarian values, and the implications of sustainable development strategies.

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  • E. Papadakis

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