What is the debate between anthropocentric environmentalism and ecocentric environmentalism

Answer the following question below I will upload the chapters . Ch. 11What is the debate between anthropocentric environmentalism and ecocentric environmentalism and what can it help achieve, according to Bell?Ch. 12What is participatory governance, according to Bell?What is local knowledge? Can it be as important as scientific knowledge, according to Bell?Ch. 13What is the environmental sociological imagination according to Bell?What does Bell mean by ‘greening capitalism’?What kind of relationship does Bell establish between ‘the local and the global’?


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Mobilizing the Ecological Society
Image 14
We have a purpose. We are many. For this purpose we will rise, and we will act.
—Al Gore, 2007
There is an old fable that Mike enjoyed telling to his children when they were young, “Androcles and the
Lion.” It is indeed old, 2,000 years at least. Some say it dates from the time of Caligula, who ruled the
Roman Empire from 37 to 41 CE, and that it was written by Apion, a scholar from that day, and that it
may be based on a real incident. Others say that it originally comes from Aesop, the Greek storyteller
from the sixth century BCE. The earliest extant version of it is in the Noctes Atticae, or Attic Nights, of
Aulus Gellius—20 volumes of random stuff that Gellius, a minor Roman official, scribbled down to pass
the time while on a posting to Athens, which is in Attica.1 Gellius himself, at least, says he got it from
Apion, not Aesop, and that Apion claimed to have been an eyewitness to the story. In any event, it is
plenty old.
There’s a good reason why people have continued to tell this story for so long. It is not just a story for
the young; rather, it has an important message about community and environment and how to bring the
two together into that biggest community of all. Here’s how it goes—or at least here’s how Mike used to
tell it.2
How do we mobilize ourselves to build an ecological society, a community of care big enough to include
humans, lions, and all other creatures—a community that recognizes, celebrates, and maintains our
mutual dependences and independences? When those moments of passion arise, when the moment of
truth comes between butchering Androcles and the lion or respecting their unique story, how do we
encourage the crowd’s roar toward life and not death? How do we organize ourselves to work together
for what we believe is right for the planet and its diverse inhabitants, even in the face of bad odds?
The story of Androcles and the lion points out three foundations of ecological mobilization that
environmental sociology also points out. We’ll call them the three cons of conceptions, connections, and
The prefix con- is wonderfully multiple in its meanings. It can refer to “knowledge,” as in the words
connoisseur, consideration (which means knowing the stars), con (as in the phrase “con job”), and
cunning (which transforms con- into cun-). Con- can also mean “together” and appears in this usage in a
host of words, such as consult, confide, convene, conversation, converge, conclave, concert, consent,
and (transforming con- into com-) community and commonality. Plus, con- can mean “against,” as in the
pros and cons of something, and in its full form as contra- in the words contradiction, control, contrast,
and controversy.
An effective environmental movement needs to be “pro” all of these basic meanings of con-. To mobilize
the ecological society, we need ecological knowledge—conceptions. We need the solidarity of
community ties—connections. And we need political strategy—contestations.8
Androcles had the ecological conceptions to begin with. Plus, because of his own experiences as a slave,
he could relate to what the lion was going through; the two then built a strong solidarity of mutual
connections that carried them through the years. Finally, based on that solidarity, the lion contested the
government’s animal handlers, and Androcles made a compelling appeal, winning a remarkable political
victory that brought freedom for human and lion alike. Whether the story is fact or fiction—and it has
certainly had its share of reshaping over the years by various storytellers, including Mike—it is true in a
deeper sense. As we shall see.
There once was a slave named Androcles who belonged to the Roman governor of Africa. The governor
was a cruel master and used to beat Androcles mercilessly. One day, Androcles saw his chance to
escape, and he ran away into the wilderness. After running for hours, he spied a cave where he thought
he could rest, hide, and spend the night.
But as Androcles approached the cave, he heard a terrible roaring echoing from inside it, and a huge lion
came out into the cave’s mouth. Androcles was frightened, of course, but he noticed that the lion was
favoring one of his feet. Androcles looked more closely and could see something sticking out of the paw
of the hurt foot. It was an old nail. Forgetting his own safety, for he probably could have outrun the lame
lion, Androcles cautiously approached the brute. He took the hurt paw into his hands and pulled out the
nail, and then did his best to clean up the infected sore. It just seemed like the right thing to do. After all,
Androcles knew what it was like to suffer.
The lion was ecstatic and gratefully licked Androcles’s face. The two, man and lion, became fast friends.
They lived together in the cave and learned to hunt together, using the lion’s teeth and claws and
Androcles’s hands and wit. They became inseparable, despite their differences, and in many ways
precisely because of those differences.
But they were a little careless one day. Some of the Emperor Caligula’s soldiers were out hunting for a
lion for a show in the Circus Maximus back in Rome and caught the beast in a net. One of the soldiers
recognized Androcles as the governor’s escaped slave, so they captured him, too. When the soldiers
brought Androcles back to the governor, he flew into a rage about the poor slave. In those days before
television, people enjoyed going to the circus to watch lions eat defenseless captives, and other
gruesome sports. The governor condemned Androcles to the Circus Maximus to be used for this
unhappy purpose.
On the day of the event, great excitement filled the air as the crowd swarmed into the arena. Even the
Emperor Caligula was there. After all, it was good for an emperor’s popularity to be seen putting on a
satisfyingly bloody circus show, and Caligula was in political trouble because of his lavish spending on an
expansion of his palace.3 Besides, Caligula was a rather bloodthirsty fellow himself.
Tension mounted as the preliminary acts—foot races, weight lifting, gladiator fights, a chariot race—
were held. Finally, Androcles was thrown into the ring, naked and unarmed. The lion, who had been
starved for days, was also released into the ring.
Snarling and roaring, the lion approached Androcles and prepared for a lethal pounce onto the modest
frame of this gentle soul. But as he drew near to Androcles, the lion recognized who it was. The mighty
cat lay down in front of Androcles, looked up at him, and began to mew softly.4
A few people in the stands began to jeer. They wanted blood. So some of Circus Maximus’s animal
handlers came out with long pikes to poke and anger the lion into action. But the lion rose up, shook his
great mane, and roared fiercely at the handlers until they retreated. Then, the lion lay down once again
at Androcles’s feet, purring and swishing his tail.5
The circus crowd fell absolutely silent. Caligula, too, was astonished. He asked to have Androcles
brought near to his viewing platform so he could question him. Androcles explained the strange history
of his friendship with the lion, shouting up to the emperor high above on his portable throne. Caligula
thought for a moment and then commanded that the story be written out on a tablet and passed
through the crowd so all would know. After all, there were no loudspeakers in those days.
Once the tablet had made its way through the multitudes, with those who could read explaining the
matter to those who could not, Caligula rose up. Everyone immediately fell silent again to hear. Caligula
shouted out, “Should we release Androcles and the lion?” The crowd roared its approval. Caligula held
up his hand to silence them again, and then proclaimed, “The vote is clear. Let them both go free!” The
crowd’s roar after that could be heard clear across Rome.
For the next few months, Androcles and the lion walked through the city together, the lion on a light
leash so as not to frighten anyone. People would give Androcles money and sprinkle the lion with
flowers. And everyone who met them exclaimed, “This is the lion, a man’s friend; this is the man, a lion’s
But eventually, Androcles and the lion grew tired of the fuss, even though they now had plenty of
money to live on. They returned to the wilderness and lived out the rest of their days together, the
closest of companions.
And so we learn that no act of kindness is ever wasted.7
Mobilizing Ecological Conceptions
One of the oldest answers to the question of how to mobilize an ecological society is education. The
environmental movement has put a huge amount of effort into environmental education. There are
literally thousands of local environmental education centers and school programs across the world.
There are dozens (it could even be into the hundreds) of professional associations of environmental
educators at the regional, national, and international levels—for example, the North American
Association for Environmental Education, founded in 1971; the Australian Association for Environmental
Education, founded in 1980; the Maine Environmental Education Association, founded in 1982; and the
Japan Society of Environmental Education, founded in 1990. Many countries publish environmental
education journals, including Australia, Canada, Hungary, South Africa, the United States, and more, and
there are several international journals. Since 2003, there has been an annual World Environmental
Education Congress. There can hardly be an environmental organization, either governmental or
nongovernmental, that does not put significant effort into education and public outreach. And think of
all the TV programs and popular magazines that have carried environmental stories, from the Discovery
Channel to National Geographic. In these many ways, the environmental movement has been working
to put into practice the widely cited definition of environmental education from UNESCO’s (United
Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) 1978 “Tbilisi Declaration,” to wit,
Environmental education is a learning process that increases people’s knowledge and awareness
about the environment and associated challenges, develops the necessary skills and expertise to address
the challenges, and fosters attitudes, motivations, and commitments to make informed decisions and
take responsible action.9
Sounds great. It is great. Much good has come of it. Nonetheless, after decades of environmental
education, we still have massive environmental problems and significant issues with every goal
mentioned in the Tbilisi Declaration’s definition of environmental education.
The trouble is, knowing something doesn’t mean you can do much about it. If people find their lives
organized so that it is hard for them to put their ecological knowledge into practice, then they are
unlikely to do so. Why? For exactly that reason: because it is hard—especially when one tries to act as
an individual. The pattern of our economy, technology, built environment, and ideologies presents
tremendous obstacles to getting something changed when we try to act on our own.
When people hear that they are doing something wrong that they feel they can’t do much about, they
will likely try to dodge the implied sense of guilt by resisting knowledge. They may well accuse the
bearer of environmental knowledge of playing a game of shame and blame to gain a position of moral
superiority over the ecologically guilty. So they turn the page. They click the remote. They surf to
another site.
Does this mean that environmental education doesn’t accomplish anything? Hardly. We wouldn’t be
writing this book if we believed that. But it does mean we should be wary of a behaviorist approach to
environmental problems—the idea that if we change an individual’s attitudes, his or her behaviors will
soon follow. Now, there is much that individuals have done that makes a real, marked difference, and
we’ll talk about that more in the final chapter of the book. But we need to look at knowledge
situationally, understanding the social contexts by which, and in which, people find themselves
motivated to take action. Counseling individual action can overwhelm and disappoint people. The
“knowledge and awareness” the Tbilisi Declaration advocates is not something one can insert into
someone’s brain as she or he comes down an assembly line, a missing part that we slot into a skull as it
goes by. These are social matters, not ones of individual mechanics.
The Cultivation of Knowledge
Think about what goes on in anyone’s day. It is awash with information. For it is not just the
environmental movement that is trying to grab people’s attention. Every social movement, industry, and
government agency is out there trying, as the Tbilisi Declaration describes, to increase “knowledge and
awareness”; develop “skills and expertise”; and foster “attitudes, motivations, and commitments” that
result in what each of those organizations regards as “informed decisions” and, we must hope,
“responsible action.” The Internet. The newspaper. Television. Radio. Mail campaigns. Viral marketing.
Flyers passed out on the street. Advertisements on buses, billboards, and T-shirts. Everyone is trying it
all. And no one can pay attention to it all. There is simply too much. So which sources will someone key
into, and which will he or she ignore?
Plus, all the various sources out there often do not agree. (Indeed, if they did agree, they probably
wouldn’t feel a need to put out a message of their own.) Which is confusing and confounding (two more
con- words), as none of us is an expert in everything, even within our own fields of endeavor. We (Mike
and Loka, that is) think we know quite a bit about environmentalism and environmental issues after
many years of studying these matters. But there is a lot we don’t know. How do you conceptualize
something without certainty? For example, Mike and Loka had a good look through the Fifth Assessment
Report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a document that states
climate change is “unequivocal”; that the changes in rising sea levels, concentrations of greenhouse gas,
and diminished ice and snow are “unprecedented”; and that it is “extremely likely” that human factors
have been the “dominant cause.”10 Mike has a geology degree and another in forestry, and Loka has a
degree in geography. So between the two of us, we have some technical background in some of the
relevant sciences. But most observers agree that these are interdisciplinary matters. And if something is
recognized as being an interdisciplinary concern, that is another way of saying that no one person
understands the whole thing. Moreover, who has read every one of the citations in the 1,552-page,
four-volume Fifth Assessment Report? Not that reading them is enough to be sure of their veracity.
Maybe the experiments and measurements and models were done wrong. Maybe the sources aren’t all
reliable—which was indeed the case with a few of them in the Fourth Assessment Report, as the
“Climategate” controversy showed.11 Scientists make mistakes. Everyone does. Scientists sometimes
misunderstand what they see. We all do. But who has the time or the resources or the expertise to do
all those experiments for her- or himself to see if others got it wrong?
Which means each of us has to trust someone else who knows more about some aspect of something
than we can determine on our own—and not just about technical matters of environmental science.
Throughout the day, we ask others about things that have worked for them or that they have heard
worked for others. Do we need to sample every poisonous mushroom for ourselves to believe that they
are poisonous? That would kill us. Do we need to read every book, newspaper, and website for
ourselves to decide which ones are worthwhile? We’ll never live so long. So we each rely on others—
others we trust—to help guide us successfully through the day.
But what if our friends are wrong? What if that supposedly poisonous mushroom was, in fact, safe and
delicious? What if some bit of the knowledge in all those books, newspapers, and websites that our
friends indicated, either explicitly or implicitly, that we shouldn’t bother with was, in fact, exactly what
we needed both to better ourselves and to better the world? We may never know.
The point is that education is not just about communicating facts. It never has been. It is also
fundamentally about trust and the people by whom we gain a sense of what knowledge to pay attention
to and what knowledge we can safely not pay attention to. Because of the centrality of trust, then,
knowledge is not just knowledge. Knowledge is a social relation. And education is a social relation, too.
Think of it as a matter of the cultivation of knowledge.12 By that we mean what we take to be
knowledge is a matter of our self-identity and a matter of the social relations of trust that shape and
come from self-identity. It’s an interactive matter. It’s ongoing. And it’s cultivated within culture and the
resulting sense of lines of difference and lines of similarity we forge with and between others and
What we know is who we are. (Mike and Loka are environmental sociologists.) Who we are is what we
know. (We therefore know a lot about environmental sociology.) Who we are and what we know are
whom we know and whom we trust. (We gained our identities and much of our knowledge from other
sociologists, environmentalists, and environmental sociologists, who give us professional recognition
and whose work and experience we use as a base for our own. And we learned much from the
individuals we’ve mentioned throughout the book. Those we’ve read. Those we lived with. Those we’ve
interviewed. Those who have shared a piece of their knowledge with a stranger to open dialogue into
unexpected places. All based on trust.)
Some deep commitments are at work here. A person’s identity is who his or her friends and associates
are and who his or her friends and associates are not. Given that your knowledge is linked to your
identity and that both your knowledge and your identity are linked to others, a lot is at stake in the
cultivation of knowledge. Yourself. Your friends. Your associates. Your confidence. Your confidences.
These are matters that are close to the bone of how we consider our location in the world. These are
matters that are hard to change.
To cultivate knowledge is also to cultivate a sense of the ignorable. We don’t mean ignorance. Nor do
we mean stupidity about reality. Rather, we mean that which we can safely disregard—which is central
to what we consider important. We gain knowledge by paying attention. But to pay attention to one
thing is to not pay attention to something else—indeed, it is to not pay attention to far more than we
pay attention to. To be where we are, in tune and attentive to the place and the people, is to be not
everywhere else and not with all those other people. To decide what counts for knowledge—useful
knowledge that is appropriate to our lives, as we understand them—we must have some way to screen
out far more that we will never know. We can try to read The New York Times every day (Mike does).
But can we also read The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Irish
Times, The Times (of London), Der Spiegel, Le Monde, and Al Jazeera? Every day? Cover to cover? And
how about Sierra Magazine, the Ecologist, E/The Environmental Magazine, High Country News, and
Environment Times? When we are already reading the National Review, The Spectator, and The
So how do …
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