Deforestation And Reforestation In Namibia; The Global Consequences Of Local Contradictions

Project and Seminar Material for Environmental Science

Deforestation And Reforestation In Namibia; The Global Consequences Of Local Contradictions

Chapter One


1.1 Background Of The Study

Firearms and iron technology shaped local southern African environments in nonlinear and unexpected ways. Some invasive germs caused deadly virgin soil epidemics in Africa, echoing the impact of smallpox in the Americas and paving the way for colonial conquest. But some of the invasive germs and guns and steel turned against colonialism, and caused colonial projects to veer sharply off course with unexpected environmental consequences. Whether caused by colonialism, population pressure, technology or invasive species, environmental change consequently should be understood to be multidirectional, involving multiple sub-processes with plural outcomes. Despite path-breaking research in the past two to three decades, the study of local and global environmental change is constrained by the conceptualization of change as a singular process that is both linear and homogenous. Global Consequences

Such a conceptualization creates two paradoxes that cannot satisfactorily be explained within the current frameworks and that are here referred to as the Palenque Paradox and the Ovambo Paradox. Depicting environmental change in linear fashion within a Nature-Culture dichotomy has been rejected in theory. In practice, however, environmental change overwhelmingly continues to be assessed in terms of singular and exclusive degradation, improvement or stability/equilibrium outcomes. The degradation-or-improvement-or-equilibrium framework is derived from the modernization, the declinist and the inclinist paradigms, all of which share the premise that environmental change occurs along a single and irreversible Nature-to-Culture pathway.Global Consequences

The modernization paradigm posits environmental change as a progression from a primitive state of Nature to an advanced state of Culture, resulting in a state-controlled and scientifically exploited environment. The declinist paradigm regards human interference in pristine Nature as a disturbance that leads to a downward-spiraling process of environmental degradation that ultimately might cause the destruction of ecosystem Earth. In contrast to the largely pessimistic outlook of the declinists, and similarly to the modernizers, the inclinists are optimistic about humans’ ability to mitigate the degrading effects of environmental change.Global Consequences

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