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Ecological Modernization

  • By: Elaine Stratford
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

Ecological modernization is shorthand for two ideas: (1) that it is possible to maintain or increase the rate of economic growth and protect the environment and (2) that diseconomies and ecological harm may be diminished by policy correctives and technological fixes that design environmental criteria into economic systems. Its apparent appeal lies in its capacity to generate positive-sum solutions to problems conceived as zero sum, move beyond remedial and regulatory environmental strategies of the 1970s, avoid structural change seen as intractably difficult, and accommodate (however uncomfortably) both radical environmental critiques and neoliberal economic practices. In short, the term refers to the restructuring of the capitalist economy along environmentally sound lines. Nevertheless, it has been criticized for perpetuating social injustices, economic unfairness, and environmental harm because ...

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