The Ecopsychology Issue

Philosophy on the Edge

Would you commit murder?
Frame from The Seventh Seal

Last October, in anticipation of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives — a tiny nation made up of more than one thousand low-lying islets in the Indian Ocean — called an urgent and highly unusual meeting of his cabinet. Government officials donned scuba gear and headed into the sea, convening on the ocean floor five meters below the surface where they signed a document calling for global cuts in carbon dioxide emissions. The half-hour meeting, observed by snorkeling journalists and captured on video by waterproof camera was, to use a phrase coined by political theorist Stephen Duncombe, an “ethical spectacle”: a theatrical attempt to call attention to a very real threat and moral predicament. The Maldives aren’t submerged yet, but they will be soon enough if the world doesn’t take action to prevent such a fate.

Though President Nasheed is widely hailed as an ecological visionary — he was even named one of the “Heroes of the Environment 2009” by Time magazine — his cabinet’s spectacular assembly was largely ignored by more powerful nations. Though countless developing countries will face unprecedented disasters in coming years as a consequence of unmitigated climate change — heat waves, floods, storms, droughts, crop failures, pandemics, displaced populations and more — these avoidable catastrophes have been sidelined. World leaders are focusing on another more appealing and potentially lucrative issue: how to divide up the atmosphere’s diminishing capacity to absorb greenhouse gases in a way that will not inconvenience — but will actually benefit — an already privileged minority.

mercy or murder

On the second day of the Copenhagen summit Mohamed Axam Maumoon — the articulate, impassioned 15-year-old climate ambassador of the Maldives — put the moral predicament in stark terms: “On the basis that you know what you are doing is wrong and you can see that the victim is begging for mercy … would you commit murder?”

His poignant question reminded me of a thought experiment made famous by the philosopher Peter Singer. The “shallow pond” scenario imagines a hapless bystander who notices a small child in danger of drowning. The child can easily be saved, but a new and expensive pair of shoes will be ruined as a result. Most of us sense immediately that shoes are trivial compared to human life, yet it is precisely the specter of stunted economic growth that industrialized nations invoke to justify stalling on environmental issues. Our governments are too obsessed with the GDP to prioritize preventing harm. Meanwhile, a recent report from London’s Telegraph warns that climate change is set to be the single biggest threat to children’s lives worldwide, estimating that up to 250,000 young people could die of its effects in the next year alone. For fear of ruining its shoes, the developed world appears to be turning its back on important moral precepts regarding the fundamental value of every human life.

If we accept the premise that every human life has the same intrinsic value — that all people are equal — a simple question follows: What entitles one person to use a far larger portion of the atmosphere’s ability to absorb greenhouse gases than someone else? What permits Americans to produce 20 tons of carbon dioxide a year while people living on the continent of Africa produce less than one ton on average? The answer, of course, is nothing. In light of this, the “per capita principle” is taking hold in some environmental and diplomatic circles. It’s the radically simple idea that all people have the right to emit the same amount of greenhouse gases, which, according to a recent German study, would mean a quota of 2.8 tons of carbon dioxide per person annually. As Peter Singer says, “one person, one share.”

The current climate crisis demands that we make a novel conceptual leap and begin thinking about human equality in terms of energy and resource consumption. If we don’t, as Climate Ambassador Maumoon put it (in a comment that referred not only to the Maldives but also to countries like Bangladesh, Kenya and Zambia), “it’s as good as killing us off.” Unfortunately his exhortation was hardly melodramatic. A report commissioned by the Global Humanitarian Forum, launched in 2007 by then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, puts the climate change-caused death toll at 300,000 people per year. This number is projected to double by 2030. Likewise, groups like Pan African Climate Justice Alliance caution that a two-degree Celsius increase in global temperature (a target the Copenhagen pledges fell short of) will mean “an additional 55 million people could be at risk from hunger” and “water stress could affect between 350 and 600 million more people.” It seems we are indeed willing to commit murder.

thinking like a convict

As the Copenhagen conference came to its anticlimactic end, I was reminded of the “prisoner’s dilemma,” one of the more provocative thought experiments known to philosophy and economics, and one that, unlike the shallow pond scenario, highlights the darker angels of our nature. The prisoner’s dilemma envisions two criminals, both accused of the same misdeed, held in separate cells. Their punishment will be minimal if they both stay quiet; if one provides testimony against the other, the testifier will go free while the other convict is punished harshly; if they both testify, the punishment will be significant for both parties. The dilemma illustrates the tension between individual and group rationality or between selfish behavior and social behavior: The criminals will inevitably rat each other out and, by pursuing self-interest, make the situation much worse than if they kept their mouths shut.

Taking various iterations over the years, the prisoner’s dilemma has fascinated philosophers, mathematicians, psychologists and economists, ultimately promoting the view that human beings are generally selfish, though not always rational. If they were rational, after all, the hypothetical prisoners would cooperate since the outcome would be better for all involved. At Copenhagen the richest nations behaved like petty criminals, sabotaging collective betterment for economic gain and turning toward mutual destruction in the process. The thing is that unlike the criminals in the prisoner’s dilemma, who are prohibited from speaking to one another, the leaders at the climate summit spent 11 days trying to broker an agreement and still ended up with the worst possible outcome: no legally binding treaty to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. There’s also the important fact that while both criminals in the hypothetical scenario are guilty as charged, blame is not so easily shared when it comes to climate change. The wealthiest half-billion people on earth, or a mere seven percent of the population, contribute half the carbon dioxide emitted. Meanwhile, the poorest half of the world’s citizens are responsible for only seven percent of emissions.

In the days leading up to the summit, European negotiators pledged to sign up for carbon emissions cuts of 30 percent if — and only if — other major polluting nations agreed to do the same. As we all know too well, the United States and China balked and the targets were abandoned in favor of a vague unenforceable nod toward lower emissions. Unable to come to a collective agreement, the world’s most powerful nations acted like selfish prisoners, refusing to accept responsibility for the impending ecological catastrophe or to take significant steps to remedy it unless everyone else did to the exact same degree. In other words, why should Canada curb emissions if China builds one hundred new coal-fueled power plants? If you’re thinking like a cliché criminal, the answer, sadly, is it shouldn’t.

RAND researchers developed the prisoner’s dilemma during the Cold War. Entranced by game theory, they used it to argue that a kind of paranoid equilibrium could be achieved through self-interest and suspicion, a bizarre and questionable insight that led to the promotion of nuclear arms race-logic and so-called strategies of deterrence. The only problem was that when they tested the prisoner’s dilemma on their secretaries, the researchers were shocked to find that people generally trusted rather than betrayed one another. These results were repeated in later trials. It turns out that when regular human beings — as opposed to nation-states or RAND scientists — play the prisoner’s dilemma, a powerful tendency to cooperate often overpowers mercenary opportunism.

Copenhagen demonstrated that governments don’t compromise and cooperate like regular people; neither do corporations. The prisoner’s mindset may be anathema to many individuals, but it’s a worldview more central to capitalism (an economic system that rewards greed above all else) than some may like to admit. It turns out that thinking like a convict may give us some chilling insight into how the market-based solutions to climate change hyped by Wall Street and Washington will actually function. Cap and trade may make prisoners out of us yet.

selling the sky

While many of us may accept the premises that each human life has the same intrinsic value, that all people are equal and that nothing entitles one person to produce more carbon dioxide than anyone else, these are hardly the principles guiding climate policy.

Not by a long shot. These days, the existence of carbon emissions is treated not as a political or ethical issue to be resolved but as an economic asset to be exploited. The atmosphere has been claimed as a private commodity. Corporations, with the aid of the UN, are buying and selling “rights” to pollute it. Consequently carbon trading is now the fastest growing commodities market on Earth. But what exactly is the commodity these markets are peddling? It’s a highly unusual product. It’s not carbon that is being bought and sold but rather the assurance of its nonproduction.

And what about these rights? If everyone has a right to the sky, does that mean rights are something that can be transferred and speculated in, collected and hoarded? Can they be passed on and inherited? The answer to these and other equally outlandish questions is an enthusiastic yes. Cap and trade gives corporations the “right” to pollute through the buying and selling of permits. Some of these permits are “grandfathered,” allowing old plants to avoid regulation. This means, counterintuitively, that the right to contaminate the environment is bequeathed on the basis that one has a track record of doing just that. But even more problematic are the “offsets” that companies can purchase instead of cutting their carbon production. These offsets are credits generated by projects that claim to reduce emissions but often don’t, since there’s no reliable system of monitoring or enforcement: wind farms in China, methane-capturing landfills in New England, old-growth forest protection projects in South America. Investigative journalist Mark Schapiro — reporting on carbon trading from rural Brazil — exposed the system’s fatal flaw, which also happens to be the secret to its profitability: No one has the power to remove junk credits from the market, even if there’s proven misconduct.

James Hansen, the NASA scientist who was one of the first to blow the whistle on global warming, warns that cap and trade does little to slow climate change, while simultaneously removing all incentives to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. “Because cap and trade is enforced through the selling and trading of permits, it actually perpetuates the pollution it is supposed to eliminate,” Hansen recently argued. “If every polluter’s emissions fell below the incrementally lowered cap, then the price of pollution credits would collapse and the economic rationale to keep reducing pollution would disappear.” Cap and trade ensnares us in a twisted prisoner’s logic, deterring the most desirable outcome. Though the greatest good would come about if we quit producing greenhouse gases altogether, formidable interests are now invested in keeping carbon-market profits high. That’s why cap and trade won’t get us out of the mess we’re in. Instead, as Hansen has cautioned, “it merely allows polluters and Wall Street traders to fleece the public out of billions of dollars.” It’s been widely acknowledged that the market for trading permits will be loosely regulated and the actual “offsets” hardly supervised. Only a few months ago, the European Union admitted that carbon-trading fraud had cost the bloc’s governments $7.4 billion in lost tax revenue over the previous year and a half. But even for investors who don’t engage in outright swindling, policing the carbon market is going to be a boondoggle of unprecedented proportion.

And what a boon it will be, at least for those who know how to game the system. Much was made of Hillary Clinton’s announcement that the “United States is prepared to work with other countries toward a goal of jointly mobilizing $100 billion a year by 2020 to address the climate change needs of developing countries.” Even if that money actually manifests and is eventually dispersed, it involves sums that look positively paltry in comparison to the carbon market, which is already valued at well over a trillion dollars a year. Matthew Stilwell of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development described the Copenhagen summit as a “colonial moment,” explaining that rich countries essentially traded “beads and blankets for Manhattan.” He laments that the atmosphere, the last remaining unowned resource, has been carved up and allocated to the already wealthy.

No wonder carbon-trading shops have been swamped with résumés in recent months. “I think that the guys on Wall Street, as well as people in related industries, all kind of see this as a growth area in the economy, or a potential growth area in the economy, and would like to get involved,” Evan Ard, a spokesman for the carbon brokerage firm Evolution Markets, told the New York Times. All that despite the fact that even Deutsche Bank has condemned the current arrangement, complaining that the carbon market is ineffective and unlikely to contribute to cutting emissions “for the foreseeable future.”

our climate is not their business

We are facing an unparalleled challenge. Unlike nuclear weapons, greenhouse gases can’t be contained. The stakes for humanity have never been higher. The prisoner’s mindset will only doom us all.

In a recent editorial Hansen asks us to consider what he calls the “perverse” impact cap and trade will have on altruistic actions. “Say you decide to buy a small, high-efficiency car,” he writes. “That reduces your emissions, but not your country’s. Instead it allows somebody else to buy a bigger SUV — because the total emissions are set by the cap.” Hansen’s observations inspire one to wonder what system would reward our altruistic impulses instead of stifling them? What arrangement will encourage us to dramatically curb our energy consumption, to invest in sustainable development, to quit acting entitled to every last ounce of the world’s resources?

Michael Hardt, coauthor of Empire and Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire, argues that the solution is a system with the common at its center, a category that includes everything from the forests, seas and atmosphere to ideas, language and affects. The common, in Hardt’s formulation, is that which eludes measurement and rebels against commoditization: It both defies and is deteriorated by property relations. “Just as your land shares with the neighboring land the benefits of rain and sunshine it will share too the destructive effects of pollution and climate change,” he explains. The common also disrupts and exceeds the dominant measures of value. In other words, just as we cannot put a dollar value on human life — all we can say is that every human life is of equal worth — so we cannot assign a price to something as ubiquitous and essential as the atmosphere or as integral to our species’ survival as carbon dioxide. Instead of struggling to determine the cost of carbon — which can then be manipulated by the market — we should instead abide by Singer’s simple equation: “one person, one share.”

At Copenhagen the wealthy countries advocated for modern-day indulgences, including offsets and credits, for those lucky enough to afford them. They faced off against the global south, which rightly continues to demand reparations for the climate debt incurred by industrialized, colonizing nations over the last century. Hardt, who was in Copenhagen, saw the summit primarily as a struggle over the management of resources that must be shared, whether the world’s powerbrokers want them to be or not. The challenge at hand, Hardt would later reflect, lay in developing “a politics of the common that both recognizes the real limits of the Earth and fosters our unlimited creative capacities — building unlimited worlds on our limited Earth.” In other words, the climate crisis has revealed the environment’s finite nature, its fragile balance and our precarious place therein. But the human imagination remains boundless, our capacity for empathy and solidarity inexhaustible and the future uncertain.

For now the problem is not a lack of vision. We have both the moral principles to guide us — the atmosphere belongs to everyone, and everyone is of equal value — and a bounty of intelligent, effective solutions on the table: setting ambitious emissions targets, instituting a carbon tax, establishing a “fee-and-dividend model,” investing in truly renewable energy and sustainable development, embracing the “polluter pays” standard, and leaving fossil fuels in the ground, among other ideas. The problem is the insatiable minority who wants to privatize the sky — and the lack of popular will to counter their arrogating ways. That said, hopeful signs indicate a growing opposition. The climate justice movement, currently making appearances around the world, is the best available evidence that we have not yet become hostage to the logic of the market, that the prisoner’s mindset is not yet dominant.

If climate change has taught us anything, it is that we can no longer remain oblivious to our interconnection. With the simple flip of a switch we contribute to the inundation of the Maldives. Maumoon’s blunt question must ring in our ears: “On the basis that you know what you are doing is wrong and you can see that the victim is begging for mercy … would you commit murder?” It’s still not too late to change our answer.

Astra Taylor is the director of two documentaries about philosophy, Zizek! and Examined Life, both distributed by Zeitgeist Films and available on DVD. A companion book, Examined Life: Excursions with Contemporary Thinkers, is available from The New Press.

20 comments on the article “Philosophy on the Edge”

Displaying 1 - 10 of 20

Page 1 of 2

Joey

(Preface: I was unable to format my response with line breaks. Sorry.)
.
I agree with your sentiment entirely. “There are degrees of screwed,” says Peter Gleick, cofounder and president of the Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment, and Security, in Oakland. “And no matter how bad it is, it could be worse or less worse. There is a huge difference between a two-foot sea level rise and a ten-foot. There is a big difference between a two-degree temperature rise and a five-degree temperature rise—and that is why thinking about manageable and unmanageable comes into play, because on scenario might kill ten million and one might kill a hundred million.”
.
.
Thomas Friedman wrote that
“Climate-change deniers are like the person who goes to the doctor for a diagnosis, and when the doctor tells him, “if you don’t stop smoking, there is a 90% chance you will die of lung cancer,” the patient replies “Oh, doctor, you mean you are not 100% sure? Then I will keep on smoking.”
.

And despite the resistance, experts like John Holdren have commented that climate change evidence is "based on an immense edifice of painstaking studies published in the world’s leading peer-reviewed scientific journals. They have been vetted and documented in excruciating detail by the largest, longest, costliest, most international, most interdisciplinary, and most thorough formal review of a scientific topic ever conducted.”
.
.

When facing the decision between Cap and Trade and Carbon Taxes, the stakes are explicit.
.
Big business and their $$$ will support Cap and Trade, while environmentalists will support Carbon Taxes. With cap and trade, the costs to the environment are kept by producers as producer surplus. Under this policy business will continue as usual. The demand will remain relatively constant, and costs to producers will barely change.
.
.

With carbon taxes, the costs to the environment are taken by the government as taxes. The one trillion dollar carbon industry will have to shuffle in the name of environmental fairness.
.
.

While your work does a great job explicating the harms placed upon third world nations, I think you might also want to consider appealing to the selfish nature of Americans.

.
.

First: There are thousands of deaths from pollution;
The environmental damage caused by oil goes far beyond the devastating impacts of global warming. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ranked gasoline as the number one source of toxic emissions. This kills our citizens. The Harvard School of Public Health attributed 70,000 deaths to these toxic emissions annually. And, alarmingly, in the most polluted cities it has been estimated that lives are shortened by an average of one to two years, according to research by the American Cancer Society and Harvard University.

.
.
Second: For those more interested in $$$, oil dependence ruins market stability;
A study was done by the Center for American Progress in November 2007 which, calculated the cost the unstable oil market. They concluded that “The oil market upheavals of the last 30 years (such as the 1973 Arab oil embargo) have cost the U.S. economy some $8 trillion. These costs are independent of whether [oil] is domestic or imported.

.
.

Third: National security: oil addiction funds terrorism directly;
.
The Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, a washinton based think tank that tracks the impact of oil on geopolitics, explained in a paper titled “Fueling Terror,”
“If not for the West’s oil money, most Gulf states would not have had the wealth that allowed them to invest so much in arms procurement and sponsor terrorist organizations…Most wealthy Saudis who…preach religious intolerance and hate toward the Western values have made their money from the petroleum industry or its subsidiaries.”
.
.

But, to move again out of our selfish national interest, there are still other international reasons to support environmental reforms.

From my perspective, (which I learned from Hot, Flat, and Crowded), oil dependence hurts women's rights in third world countries.
.
.

According to both the Fraser Institutes’ Economic Freedom of the World Report, as well as Freedom House’s Freedom in the World report, there is a inverse relationship between oil prices, and freedom.
“In oil-rich petrolist states, the price of oil and the pace of freedom tend to move in opposite directions. That is, the higher the average global curde oil price rises, the more thant free speech, free press, free and fair elections, freedom of assmeply, government transparency, judicial independence, rule of law, and non-governmental organizations are eroded.” (96)
.

.
The higher the price of oil, the slower the pace of freedom's development internationally.
“Conversely, the lower the price of oil goes, the swifter the pace of freedom: petrolist countries are forced to move toward a politics and a society that is more transparent, more sensitive to opposition voices, more open to a broad set of interactions with the outsidw rodl, and more focused on building the legal and educational structures that will maximize the ability of their citizens (men and women) to compete, start new companies, and attract investments from abroad.”
.
.

In World Politics (April 2001) edition, UCLA political scientist Michael Ross studied the question, “Does oil hinder democracy?”
“Using a statistical analysis of 113 states [over 25 years] Ross concluded that a ‘state’s reliance on oil..exports tends to make it less democratic; that this effect is not caused by other types of exports; that it is not limited to the Arabian Peninsula, to the Middle East, or to Sub-Saharan Africa; and that it is not limited to small states.”
.
In a later study, based on data from 169 countries, Ross demonstrated why women in Middle Eastern Countries continue to be undereducated, underrepresented in the workforce, and politically disempowered: Oil.”
.
The blame placed upon Islam is, to some degree, misguided.
.
.

In his essay, “Oil, Islam, and Women” for the American Political Science Review, February 2008,
“Women have made less progress toward gender equality in the Middle East than in any other region. Many observers claim this is due to the region’s Islamic traditions. I suggest that oil, not Islam, is at fault; and that oil production also explains why women lag behind in many other countries. Oil production reduces the number of women in the labor force, which in turn reduces their political influence. As a result, oil-producing states are left with atypically strong patriarchal norms, laws, and political institutions. I support this argument with global data on oil production, female work patterns, and female political representation, and by comparing oil-rich Algeria to oil-poor Morocco and Tunisia. This argument has implications for the study of the Middle East, Islamic culture, and the resource curse.”
.
This is because oil-markets are inherently masculine and oppressive. They coagulate power in a small minority of men, at the expense of local markets.
.
.

When a nation’s oil income goes up, the number of women in the workforce and number of women who gain political office both go down. Oil production reduces female political influence by reducing the number of women who work outside the home.”
.
“High oil prices…lead to overvalued currencies, drive massive imports, and kill domestic manufactures—aka Dutch disease—keep women subordinate in society. In particular, he notes, jobs in the textile and garment industries—the sort of entry-level work that represents the first rung of the economic ladder for poor and less educated women.”
.
.

This phenomena is seen in Russia too: “The same trend is manifest today in Russia, which despite its huge population, has only two universities rated among the world’s top give hundred. “When oil prices became higher, the reforms became slower…Russia became a more closed country with more state-oriented economy. Last year we saw record oil prices and not one reform.”

.
.

Energy independence would even help salvage the war in Iraq. The best post-Iraq strategy for driving reform in the Persian Gulf is to bring down the global price of oil-by developing clean power alternatives—and then to ocunt of the forces of globalization from outside, and economic pressures inside, to push the leaders of these countries to change.

.
.

.
I have done some other research on alternative energy sources. If you are interested in my findings, do not hesitate to email me at [email protected]
.
Thanks for reading,

Joey

(Preface: I was unable to format my response with line breaks. Sorry.)
.
I agree with your sentiment entirely. “There are degrees of screwed,” says Peter Gleick, cofounder and president of the Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment, and Security, in Oakland. “And no matter how bad it is, it could be worse or less worse. There is a huge difference between a two-foot sea level rise and a ten-foot. There is a big difference between a two-degree temperature rise and a five-degree temperature rise—and that is why thinking about manageable and unmanageable comes into play, because on scenario might kill ten million and one might kill a hundred million.”
.
.
Thomas Friedman wrote that
“Climate-change deniers are like the person who goes to the doctor for a diagnosis, and when the doctor tells him, “if you don’t stop smoking, there is a 90% chance you will die of lung cancer,” the patient replies “Oh, doctor, you mean you are not 100% sure? Then I will keep on smoking.”
.

And despite the resistance, experts like John Holdren have commented that climate change evidence is "based on an immense edifice of painstaking studies published in the world’s leading peer-reviewed scientific journals. They have been vetted and documented in excruciating detail by the largest, longest, costliest, most international, most interdisciplinary, and most thorough formal review of a scientific topic ever conducted.”
.
.

When facing the decision between Cap and Trade and Carbon Taxes, the stakes are explicit.
.
Big business and their $$$ will support Cap and Trade, while environmentalists will support Carbon Taxes. With cap and trade, the costs to the environment are kept by producers as producer surplus. Under this policy business will continue as usual. The demand will remain relatively constant, and costs to producers will barely change.
.
.

With carbon taxes, the costs to the environment are taken by the government as taxes. The one trillion dollar carbon industry will have to shuffle in the name of environmental fairness.
.
.

While your work does a great job explicating the harms placed upon third world nations, I think you might also want to consider appealing to the selfish nature of Americans.

.
.

First: There are thousands of deaths from pollution;
The environmental damage caused by oil goes far beyond the devastating impacts of global warming. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ranked gasoline as the number one source of toxic emissions. This kills our citizens. The Harvard School of Public Health attributed 70,000 deaths to these toxic emissions annually. And, alarmingly, in the most polluted cities it has been estimated that lives are shortened by an average of one to two years, according to research by the American Cancer Society and Harvard University.

.
.
Second: For those more interested in $$$, oil dependence ruins market stability;
A study was done by the Center for American Progress in November 2007 which, calculated the cost the unstable oil market. They concluded that “The oil market upheavals of the last 30 years (such as the 1973 Arab oil embargo) have cost the U.S. economy some $8 trillion. These costs are independent of whether [oil] is domestic or imported.

.
.

Third: National security: oil addiction funds terrorism directly;
.
The Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, a washinton based think tank that tracks the impact of oil on geopolitics, explained in a paper titled “Fueling Terror,”
“If not for the West’s oil money, most Gulf states would not have had the wealth that allowed them to invest so much in arms procurement and sponsor terrorist organizations…Most wealthy Saudis who…preach religious intolerance and hate toward the Western values have made their money from the petroleum industry or its subsidiaries.”
.
.

But, to move again out of our selfish national interest, there are still other international reasons to support environmental reforms.

From my perspective, (which I learned from Hot, Flat, and Crowded), oil dependence hurts women's rights in third world countries.
.
.

According to both the Fraser Institutes’ Economic Freedom of the World Report, as well as Freedom House’s Freedom in the World report, there is a inverse relationship between oil prices, and freedom.
“In oil-rich petrolist states, the price of oil and the pace of freedom tend to move in opposite directions. That is, the higher the average global curde oil price rises, the more thant free speech, free press, free and fair elections, freedom of assmeply, government transparency, judicial independence, rule of law, and non-governmental organizations are eroded.” (96)
.

.
The higher the price of oil, the slower the pace of freedom's development internationally.
“Conversely, the lower the price of oil goes, the swifter the pace of freedom: petrolist countries are forced to move toward a politics and a society that is more transparent, more sensitive to opposition voices, more open to a broad set of interactions with the outsidw rodl, and more focused on building the legal and educational structures that will maximize the ability of their citizens (men and women) to compete, start new companies, and attract investments from abroad.”
.
.

In World Politics (April 2001) edition, UCLA political scientist Michael Ross studied the question, “Does oil hinder democracy?”
“Using a statistical analysis of 113 states [over 25 years] Ross concluded that a ‘state’s reliance on oil..exports tends to make it less democratic; that this effect is not caused by other types of exports; that it is not limited to the Arabian Peninsula, to the Middle East, or to Sub-Saharan Africa; and that it is not limited to small states.”
.
In a later study, based on data from 169 countries, Ross demonstrated why women in Middle Eastern Countries continue to be undereducated, underrepresented in the workforce, and politically disempowered: Oil.”
.
The blame placed upon Islam is, to some degree, misguided.
.
.

In his essay, “Oil, Islam, and Women” for the American Political Science Review, February 2008,
“Women have made less progress toward gender equality in the Middle East than in any other region. Many observers claim this is due to the region’s Islamic traditions. I suggest that oil, not Islam, is at fault; and that oil production also explains why women lag behind in many other countries. Oil production reduces the number of women in the labor force, which in turn reduces their political influence. As a result, oil-producing states are left with atypically strong patriarchal norms, laws, and political institutions. I support this argument with global data on oil production, female work patterns, and female political representation, and by comparing oil-rich Algeria to oil-poor Morocco and Tunisia. This argument has implications for the study of the Middle East, Islamic culture, and the resource curse.”
.
This is because oil-markets are inherently masculine and oppressive. They coagulate power in a small minority of men, at the expense of local markets.
.
.

When a nation’s oil income goes up, the number of women in the workforce and number of women who gain political office both go down. Oil production reduces female political influence by reducing the number of women who work outside the home.”
.
“High oil prices…lead to overvalued currencies, drive massive imports, and kill domestic manufactures—aka Dutch disease—keep women subordinate in society. In particular, he notes, jobs in the textile and garment industries—the sort of entry-level work that represents the first rung of the economic ladder for poor and less educated women.”
.
.

This phenomena is seen in Russia too: “The same trend is manifest today in Russia, which despite its huge population, has only two universities rated among the world’s top give hundred. “When oil prices became higher, the reforms became slower…Russia became a more closed country with more state-oriented economy. Last year we saw record oil prices and not one reform.”

.
.

Energy independence would even help salvage the war in Iraq. The best post-Iraq strategy for driving reform in the Persian Gulf is to bring down the global price of oil-by developing clean power alternatives—and then to ocunt of the forces of globalization from outside, and economic pressures inside, to push the leaders of these countries to change.

.
.

.
I have done some other research on alternative energy sources. If you are interested in my findings, do not hesitate to email me at [email protected]
.
Thanks for reading,

Anonymous

interesting article, but the answer is apparent from the start. your entire idea is based - as you state yourself - on the premise that all people are created equal.....

these governments and leaders who are making these policies do not abide by that premise, therefore, while your article was a well-thought-out plea to save certain populations, the premise by which you start is incorrect. to the people in charge, some people deserve to live, while others are expendable.

in order to see things as they do, change your premise

Anonymous

interesting article, but the answer is apparent from the start. your entire idea is based - as you state yourself - on the premise that all people are created equal.....

these governments and leaders who are making these policies do not abide by that premise, therefore, while your article was a well-thought-out plea to save certain populations, the premise by which you start is incorrect. to the people in charge, some people deserve to live, while others are expendable.

in order to see things as they do, change your premise

Anonymous

so looking at people as expendable objects on an economic fashion is the way to go about living..? are your eyes open?are you saying your expendable or elite?

Anonymous

so looking at people as expendable objects on an economic fashion is the way to go about living..? are your eyes open?are you saying your expendable or elite?

Anonymous

unfortunately all people are not created equally, in the ideal world that would be true, but we will never reach that. Communism tried and failed over and over.

While we all may want to preach that everyone should be equal and we should all care for one another, we as human animals dont do that. If you would like to , then you should live outside somewhere in a tent and send your entire income to people who are starving, because you obviously have it better.

but you wont, does this make you a bad person? not really, your just a human animal like the rest of us

also if you are indeed an idealogical saint and do send all your money to africa or somewhere to help them out, theres a very high chance alot of corrupt people will get there hands on it first before you do. As unfortunate as it maybe they need to help themselves before we can help them.

we live in a world of global capitalism, as terrible as it is, lets look back on our history, what was better? global imperialism? feudalism? tribalism?

Anonymous

unfortunately all people are not created equally, in the ideal world that would be true, but we will never reach that. Communism tried and failed over and over.

While we all may want to preach that everyone should be equal and we should all care for one another, we as human animals dont do that. If you would like to , then you should live outside somewhere in a tent and send your entire income to people who are starving, because you obviously have it better.

but you wont, does this make you a bad person? not really, your just a human animal like the rest of us

also if you are indeed an idealogical saint and do send all your money to africa or somewhere to help them out, theres a very high chance alot of corrupt people will get there hands on it first before you do. As unfortunate as it maybe they need to help themselves before we can help them.

we live in a world of global capitalism, as terrible as it is, lets look back on our history, what was better? global imperialism? feudalism? tribalism?

Anonymous

Socialism. You don't have to give away everything and you don't need to own everything, it's called material moderation.

Anonymous

Socialism. You don't have to give away everything and you don't need to own everything, it's called material moderation.

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