Ecological Crisis, Sociality, and the Digital (Self-)Management

Ecological Crisis, Sociality, and the Digital (Self-)Management

York Ulrich Kautt (Justus-Liebig-University Giessen, Germany)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9188-7.ch009

Abstract

Following various findings of empirical studies, there is no doubt that the ecological crisis has to be regarded as one of the most pressing problems of the present. The chapter first discusses the importance of individual action for the ecological transformation of society. A following sketch of the limitations of political and economic action shows that the self-management of modern subjects is indispensable for such a transformation. The next section discusses social reasons that prevent the development and implementation of new, pro-environmental types of practice. Finally, on the basis of this diagnosis, some recommendations are formulated for a (yet to be developed) creative management of self-management.
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Introduction

Following various findings of empirical studies, there is no doubt that the ecological crisis has to be regarded as one of the most pressing problems of the contemporary society. Indicators of climate change, the worldwide decline in biodiversity, the consumption of natural resources or emissions of pollutants give rise to a gloomy diagnosis (IPCC SR 1.5, 2018; WWF, Living Planet Report 2018). This not only raises ethical issues because human actions lead to the mass and irreversible extinction of plant and animal species (according to current estimates, between 20,000 and 60,000 species per year). Also, emergencies and social conflicts such as droughts, contaminations, food shortages, flooding, weather-related disasters or the worldwide migration flows are related to ecological problems. And last but not least, it can be said that in the continuation of current developments, the human species itself is threatened, as it massively damages their natural livelihoods.

Against the background of these problems and corresponding recommendations of science to politics since the 1970s (Meadows et al., 1972), it is not surprising that sustainability is on the political and economic agenda today. Sustainable Development is not only courteous in the description of many companies, but also a guideline of organizations, governments and transnational institutions - since 2007 also among the central goals of the UN (www.fooprintnetwork.org).

Obviously, the practice of lifestyles relevant to ecological problems is related to consumer issues, that is, to the quantities and qualities of various material resources necessary for the creation and maintenance of lifestyles. Accordingly, it is consumer choices that dominate the ecological footprint (EF) of individuals (see Dooren & Bisshaert 2013, 71) and socio- demographic factors, most notably income, are the key determinants of EF (Bleys et al., 2018). With the amount of available capital grows the possibilities of consumption and thus the actual consumption of the respective individuals. With this in mind, the lifestyles of the wealthy on earth - and not the lives of the world's poorer and poorest - pose a threatening problem to the planet's ecosystems. This also applies under the conditions of computerization of the world society and a “fourth industrial revolution” with which social inequalities could once again intensify (Schwab 2016).

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