The word environmentalism refers to those social and community movements whose main cause is the protection and preservation of the environment.
These types of movements are usually also referred to as conservationism, green politics or environmentalism. This last term, however, should not be confused with the word ecology, which means ‘science that studies the environment’.
Environmentalism has been growing as the industrial park has grown, especially since the second half of the 20th century.
It has reached its peak since the 1970s, in the context of the oil crisis, when the contradictions between the development model and the sustainability of the contemporary lifestyle were revealed.
One of the issues that most concerns environmentalists today is the phenomenon of global warming.
Objectives of environmentalism
In general terms, environmental movements or environmentalism proposes:
- Preserving the environment;
- Prevent the extinction of animal and plant species;
- Fight the destruction of the environment;
- Create awareness in the population about human responsibility in ecosystem alterations.
Types of environmentalism
Environmentalism encompasses a very broad spectrum of trends with different ideological or scientific foundations, so some of them are contrary to each other. For example, there is feminist, socialist, liberal environmentalism, etc.
All of them can be grouped into large blocks or trends. The researcher Isaías Tubasura Acuña in an essay called Environmentalism and environmentalists: an expression of environmentalism in Colombia presents the following way of grouping them: reformist environmentalism and radical environmentalism. Let’s see each one separately.
Reform or superficial environmentalism
According to Isaías Tubasura Acuña, this type of environmentalism is not really a belligerent group, since it has no ideological foundation or is structured around a group conscience or around an agenda.
It admits without major questions the era of technocratism and finds in eco-efficiency the most viable solution to the problems of industrialization. It approaches the discourse of sustainable development and human development proposed by radical environmentalism (see next subtitle).
It would therefore be an environmentalism that admits the need to be moderate in the use of natural resources, but without a clear diagnosis of the problem, a long-term solution project and a real commitment to action.
Environmentalism or radical environmentalism
Radical environmentalism receives this name for its activist character. As a whole, radical environmentalism opposes the dominant lifestyle (industrialism, consumerism and utilitarianism), which based on the utopia of continuous progress, justifies indiscriminate scientific and technological development.
In this sense, some authors suggest that these movements may have an unscientific or resolutely unscientific aspect.
It is subdivided into two currents: anthropocentrist environmentalism and biocentrist environmentalism, and these in turn are subdivided into many ideological matrices determined by the context of enunciation.
It refers to all those tendencies that have the good of the human being as the center of their environmental concerns. In that sense, environmental protection is a guarantee of human survival and quality of life. This environmentalism therefore advocates the protection of the environment as a guarantee of social justice.
His criticism focuses on:
- inequality in the enjoyment of nature’s assets and the perpetuation of poverty in the present (for example, populations that currently do not have access to water);
- the sustainability of human life in the future (for example, pollution or disappearance of drinking water in a few generations).
Within this current alternatives they have been proposed as promoting the sustainable development the human development and quality of life, whose scope is considered an act of social justice.
It focuses its concern on the protection of nature as an end in itself, so that all forms of life present in it have the same level of importance and should be equally protected.
In this way, biocentrist environmentalism is based on the cult of nature. Within this two important currents can be recognized: conservationism and deep ecology.