Monsters haunting development and environment issues

Journalists struggling to understand the complexities of environmental issues and provide responsible reporting are usually torn between two dogmas, those of ecology and the market, an editor-in-chief said yesterday. «When controversies arise, these two extreme standpoints usually produce arguments warning respectively of ecological disasters and job losses. The answer is usually found by referring to experience, which shows that benefits of both kinds can result in the majority of cases,» Pantelis Kapsis of the Athens daily Ta Nea said during a presentation of the book «Globalization and Environment,» a collection of essays (in Greek) compiled by the Inter-disciplinary Institute for Environmental Research (DIPE). The book likens the two dogmatisms to the ancient Greek mythical monsters of Scylla and Charybdis, one representing unchecked capitalism, which we wish to avoid, and the other a cultural and economic provincialism without many prospects. The book calls for singling out the good aspects of globalization, such as cosmopolitanism, colorfulness and global conscience, that we would like to see preserved. The text of the book formed the basis of the seminars at last July’s Summer Ecological University, held on the island of Lemnos – an annual event on environmental issues since 1999. Presaging this year’s seminars on «Sustainability – Work – Entrepreneurship,» Ilias Efthymiopoulos, DIPE director and a former environment deputy minister, argued that the myth that environmental taxes undermine development is beginning to collapse as new prospects for entrepreneurship emerge, such as in energy. He said the public debate on the effects of environmental policies on employment and growth has been late in coming, noting that the social economy sector in France already accounts for 10 percent of employment. Further, he argued that last year’s Council of State ruling barring TVX Gold Hellas from developing a gold mine in northern Greece was historic in that it put an end to the emphasis on heavy industry as an agent of growth and introduced the issue of environmental effects into the cost/benefit equation. Michalis Modinos, chairman of the National Center for the Environment and Sustainable Development (EKPAA), argued that the issue of growth is now returning to the traditional mode of economies based on oil.

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