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Explain why the Environment is such a discursive subject. There are many examples of environmental campaigns that have already been and gone and the results of which can still be seen today.

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Explain why the Environment is such a discursive subject It is a fact that the planets weather is becoming more erratic, and ultimately warmer. The causes of the changes to our weather system are undeniable, but the real debate is if they are entirely man made. Evidence of carbon emissions increasing is available, but there is no "smoking gun" that categorically proves that the two are linked (sceptical science website - accessed 20/04/11). Until this can be proved beyond doubt one way or the other, people will disagree on mans impact on the earth. Since the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century there has been a growing concern on the impact of economic development in nature (Moran, 2005, p338). Different individuals and different political parties will have differing views on the impact and relevance of environmental issues in the modern political world. Despite the awareness of the issue, environmental issues would not enter mainstream politics until the 1960's. Previously there was little thought given to the natural resources consumed by man, but in the modern world their finite nature has been realised (Bentley, 2006, p137). By the late 1980's all mainstream political parties would have adopted and developed their own environmental agendas (ibid, p138). Pressure groups such as Greenpeace, the CND, Friends of the Earth and the World Wildlife Fund were campaigning in the UK and around the world during the 70's and 80's in order to bring the environmental agenda to the political forefront. ...read more.


Awareness of environmental issues was growing in Britain too, with the National Trust, the Council for Protection of Rural England and the RSPB some of the long standing organisation's joining the environmental campaign. Also, newer groups such as Transport 2000 and the Centre for Alternative Technology sprung up and joined many UK affected and/or based campaigns (Leach, 2005, p424). There is little doubt that the campaigns of these pressure groups helped to bring the environmental agenda to the forefront of British Politics. Environmental issues will affect all other policy areas of political parties and governments in a way that few other issues can. As stated previously with the CLEAR campaign, the effect of placing lead free petrol on the petrol station forecourt would of been non-existent had the lead-free petrol been twice the price of leaded fuel. As such, the British government encouraged the switch by placing reduced taxes on unleaded petrol, so the impact of making the environmentally conscious policy affected taxation in 1983 (ibid, p423). Any new development of roads, rail track or real estate will need to go through certain environmental checks prior to any planning permission being granted. An excellent example from recent times of environmental issues affecting a political decision relates to the planning permissions of the new Olympic Games site in Stratford. ...read more.


The last attempt to broker an agreement in the international community was in December 2009 in Copenhagen, Denmark. As John Vidal wrote in the Guardian "The so-called Copenhagen accord "recognises" the scientific case for keeping temperature rises to no more than 2C but does not contain commitments to emissions reductions to achieve that goal". After the conference, G77 executive director Lumumba Di-Aping described the deal as having "the lowest level of ambition you can get", and John Sauven of Greenpeace UK described Copenhagen as a "crime scene" (Guardian Website, accessed 19/04/11). The simple truth is that environmental issues are here to stay. The early work of environmental pressure groups such as Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace has clearly had an effect on modern political thought. Every political party will have an environmental policy outlined in its pre-election manifesto as well as in the policy section of its website. As we saw with the Olympic Stadium, the environmental impact of the construction process and post games legacy was a major factor when the whole project was outlined. Environmentalism in politics is here to stay. Major international agreements may fail like Kyoto, or fail to even appear as was the case with Copenhagen, but the pressure groups are growing is strength and influence, and any move by the political system to remove environmentalism will be met with strong opposition and serious repercussions. ...read more.

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