The scientific evidence of global warming is overwhelming, and there is no reason not to act. We ought to be rethinking and reducing oil dependency as it’s obvious that we must act to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to provide a cleaner planet for future generations. There are many other sources of renewable energy, but every option comes with concern about public participation.
A new book, The Environmental Politics of Sacrifice, challenges the widely held assumption that people will not sacrifice for environmental goals. In his own take on the topic, Worldwatch senior researcher Erick Assadourian observes that even the word “sacrifice” has become taboo – associated more with violent rituals (think Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom) than with its root meaning, “to make “sacred.”
“The idea of sacrifice is the unspoken issue of environmental politics. Politicians, the media, and many environmentalists assume that well-off populations won’t make sacrifices now for future environmental benefits and won’t change their patterns and perceptions of consumption to make ecological room for the world’s three billion or so poor eager to improve their standard of living. The Environmental Politics of Sacrifice challenges these assumptions, arguing that they limit our policy options, weaken our ability to imagine bold action for change, and blind us to the ways sacrifice already figures in everyday life. The concept of sacrifice has been curiously unexamined in both activist and academic conversations about environmental politics, and this book is the first to confront it directly.
The chapters bring a variety of disciplinary perspectives to the topic. Contributors offer alternatives to the conventional wisdom on sacrifice; identify connections between sacrifice and human fulfillment in everyday life, finding such concrete examples as parents’ sacrifices in raising children, religious practice, artists’ pursuit of their art, and soldiers and police officers who risk their lives to do their jobs; and examine particular policies and practices that shape our understanding of environmental problems, including the carbon tax, incentives for cyclists, and the perils of green consumption.
The Environmental Politics of Sacrifice puts “sacrifice” firmly into the conversation about effective environmental politics and policies, insisting that activists and scholars do more than change the subject when the idea is introduced.” Read: Erick Assadourian’s take on What Would You Sacrifice for a Secure Future?
In their book The Environmental Politics of Sacrifice Michael Maniates, John Meyer and their ten fellow-contributors urge students, activists, scholars and citizens to ask, and keep asking, why sacrifice should be pushed to the margins, why narrow assumptions about the capacity and willingness of humans to sacrifice should prevail, why leaders remain reluctant to call on our ability to sacrifice on behalf of public aims.