Accordingto Obach (2007), the ecological modernization theory argues that inthe contemporary period, the existence of better environmentalregulations and technologies can be used to assist individualsachieve ecological sustainability. As a result, the theory arguesthat environmental degradation reduces naturally as developmentcontinues. However, many researchers have pointed out that the levelsof consumption also increase overtime as development continues tocater for the growing population. If the level of consumptionincreases, so are the indirect environmental costs of consumption,such as global warming. As such, this paper examines the criticismsof ecological modernization and discusses whether it is correct byfocusing on the theory of Treadmill of Production.
Inhis book Ecologyagainst Capitalism,Foster (2002), a critic of ecological modernization theory, arguesthat the economic model of capitalism of production usually leads tothe degradation of the environment. Critics like him question whetherthe advances in technology alone can achieve the conservation ofresources and protect the environment, especially if left tobusinesses to regulate themselves. For example, numeroustechnological improvements are presently practicable but are notcommonly used. A good example is the electric technology used byTesla to power cars, such as its Model X SUV, Model S saloon, and theforthcoming Model 3 (Tovey, 2016). The electric technology canprovide an alternative source of fuel to power cars. This can reducethe dependency of using diesel and petrol because they pollute theenvironment by releasing carbon dioxide that causes global warming.
Theeffects on the environment on the dependency of using diesel andpetrol to power cars can be best explained using the theory ofTreadmill of Production. At the core of the theory, the main idea isthat capitalism and technological innovations are considered anecological damaging way of producing and consuming goods that lead toenvironmental disorganization. On the one hand, the Tesla electriccar technological innovation is not an ecological damaging way ofproducing cars because it does not use diesel and petrol to power theengine. On the other hand, cars that use diesel and petrol to powerthe engine contribute to the damage of the ecological system becausethe fuels release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This gas isknown to cause global warming where temperatures rise in some partsof the world causing floods while in others it reduces causingdrought and famine.
Asseen above, some critics have argued that environmental regulationsand technologies will not protect the milieu because the economicmodel of capitalism of production usually leads to the environmentaldegradation. While appropriate evidence has been provided, ecologicalmodernization is not correct because of a number of reasons. Thefirst reason is that the population in the world is usuallyincreasing and this requires the consumption of natural and humancapital to increase. The consumption of natural resources, such asdiesel and petrol, to power factories and car engines will increaseas many people continue to purchase cars and many factories continueto be opened to increase production of cars.
Thesecond reason is that numerous technological improvements arepresently practicable but are not commonly used. The electrictechnology used by Tesla to power cars, such as its Model X SUV,Model S saloon, and the forthcoming Model 3 that has been mentionedabove can be used by other car manufacturers to reduce dependency ondiesel and petrol. However, this is not the case because there is nocommitment from car manufacturers to produce electric cars and thegovernment putting regulations to require car manufacturers toproduce electric cars.
Inthe discussion, it has been shown that while the theory of ecologicalmodernization argues that environmental degradation reduces naturallyas development continues because of environmental regulations andtechnologies, it is not correct because the level of consumptionkeeps on increasing for a number of reasons that have been mentioned.One reason showed that as the population increased, the consumptionof natural resources that caused environmental degradation such aspetrol and diesel increased. Another reason showed that even withnumerous technological improvements presently practicable, they arenot used because they do not provide the opportunity to earn highprofits as petrol and diesel. Therefore, the theory of ecologicalmodernization is not right in the modern world.
Foster,J. (2002). Ecologyagainst capitalism.New York: Monthly Review Press.
Obach,B. (2007). Theoretical interpretations of the growth in organicagriculture: Agricultural modernization or an organic treadmill?Society & Natural Resources,20(3),229-244.
Tovey,A. (2016). ElonMusk sets sights on Tesla buses and trucks as he says electricvehicles are `not some silly hippy, thing`. The Telegraph.Retrieved 22 July 2016, from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2016/07/21/elon-musk-sets-sights-on-buses-and- trucks-as-he-says-electric-ve/