The Vulnerable Planet


Please read John Bellamy Foster, The Vulnerable Planet: A Short Economic History of the Environment in its entirely, and then write a short essay in response to the prompts

Your paper should have a proper introduction and fully developed body paragraphs. The paper should also have a reflective conclusion (see #4 below). Please keep in mind that a fully developed paragraph is typically half a page to two-thirds of a page (doublespaced) in length, and deals with one main point or sub-point.
In order to make full use of the book, I would structure the paper in the following way:

1. Start the paper with a proper introduction, one that introduces your reader to Foster’s book, and also to the general historical theme(s) and/or problem(s) that he addresses.
What is his book about and why did he write it? What time period does he cover? What is his thesis, or main analytical focus/purpose? Be sure that you also let your reader
know in this introductory section what your paper will argue, and how your paper will be organized. This should be one or two paragraphs in length.

2. In the first main section of the paper, please discuss Foster’s argument concerning the impact of modernization on the environment. What, according to Foster, have been
the environmental costs of modernization since the industrial revolution? Be sure in this section to consider not just industrialization itself, but also the environmental
consequences of imperialism, as well as both communist and capitalist state building in the twentieth century. This should be at least three or four paragraphs in length.

3. In the second main section of the paper, please consider the following: What have been the aims/goals of conservationism and environmentalism since the late nineteenth
centuries (see Chapters 4 and 7)? According to Foster, to what extent—if at all—have these attempts to address environmental issues and crises been successful, or effective? This should be at least three paragraphs in length.

4. By way of conclusion, I invite you to reflect on the conclusion that Foster reaches by the end of his book. Why does Foster argue in Chapter 7 that “mainstream
environmentalism” and “sustainable development” are not sufficient to address current global ecological crises, and that there is no viable solution to the world’s environmental
problems within the current system? Why, in other words, does he argue that an effective “environmental revolution” necessitates a “social revolution”? Do you agree with
him? Why or why not? This reflective section should be at least one fully-developed paragraph in length.


Response Paper

In the book, “The Vulnerable Planet: A Short Economic History of the Environment,” Foster (1999) has discussed about the impact of economy and social changes on the environmental conditions. The impact of modernization on environment has been the primary matter of concern in the book. Foster has suggested that the human society has reached a critical threshold in the context of its relation to the environment. The environment is becoming less suitable for human beings to survive and the planet is becoming less dependable in terms of sustainability. The survival and development of the society is at stake and this point has been highlighted thoroughly by Foster in his book. Problems like over population, destruction of the ozone layer, global warming, deforestation, extinction of species, loss of genetic diversity, acid rain, nuclear contamination, elimination of climax forests, destruction of wetlands, etc – all have contributed equally to the degradation of the human society and the ecology as well and this has impacted negatively on the economic condition of the planet. Hence, Foster has endeavored to explore the critical aspects that are crucial to be studied in order to evaluate and assess how the sustainability of the planet is getting jeopardized and how its root problems can be addressed and mitigated. This has been the primary subject matter of Foster’s discursion. Covering a huge arena starting from pre-Industrial Revolution to post-Industrial Revolution through to the era of modernization, Foster has depicted a expansive picture of the ecological and environmental degradation and this paper is going to support Foster’s argument, and pivotally the claim that modernization has impacted negatively on the environment. 

Foster (1999) has argued that modernization has rendered a negative impact on the environment. Since the Industrial Revolution a high price has to be paid by the human ecology and the surrounding environment. For Foster, the mercantilist period even though saw the growth of trade and commerce, eventually paved the way for the degradation of the environment as a whole. Mining capitalism emerged strongly affecting the natural aspects and the excessive trade in spices, sugar, tea, coffee, tobacco, furs, slaves, etc gradually brought about an ecological imbalance that was actually realized in the long-run during the modern period when the sustainability of the environment and the planet itself has come under doubt and question. It must be taken into account that Industrial Revolution gradually paved the way for the emergence of capitalism and imperialism and imperialism, since its very inception, had a negative impact on the ecology. In the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries capitalism remained to be a stable world system that divided the globe into the cente3r and periphery (Foster, 1999). 

The system created a hierarchy that resulted in the treatment of peop0le and the ecosystems of the periphery as appendages meant to support the growth wants and needs of the developed and more advanced centers of capitalism. The negative relationship of imperialism with the sustainability issue of the planet has been, since its inception, been decided thoroughly by different stages of capitalism including mercantilism, early industrial capitalism and monopoly capitalism (Foster, 1999). And it has been the expansion of this imperialist relation to the planet that has brought about destruction and devastation for the planet and for its inhabitants. It should be noted that Foster has explored how global economic system, guided and directed by capitalism, has always been geared towards private profit and this has cast a deleterious spell on the very existence of the planet. Capitalism has added to the degree of vulnerability of the earth’s fragile natural environment and it has also distressed the ecological balance to a large extent. 
Moreover, in the context of environmentalism it must be noted that Foster has put much emphasis on global justice. Encompassing Marx’s ecology, materialism and Nature and entailing works of economists like Herman Daly, Foster has tried to convince the readers about the validity of his argument that it is modernization that has impacted negatively on the environment and ecology of this once-a-green planet. 

But Foster has not forgotten to mention the efforts for ensuring conservation. Since the late nineteenth century there have been certain goals and objectives of conservationism and environmentalism, and such aspects have been thoroughly highlighted by Foster in his book. Foster has emphasized the conservationist movement that gained much popularity in the United States in the late nineteenth century. Though many other nations also witnessed its emergence; it was the United States that should be considered the forerunner in this respect. 

Harold Barnett and Chandler Morse considered the conservationist movement as a major revolution in the thought process of the Americans and the Westerners against the dominant social philosophy of the market that is self-regulating (Foster, 1999). From the ideological perspective it must be said that Marxism was the European counterpart of the American conservationist ideology and movement. Land as a economic resource has been considered primarily by the conservationist and that is the reason why for Foster, in the context of ensuring the sustainability of the planet, the conservationist movement deserves special mention. 

In conclusion it must be said that mainstream environmentalism and the concept of sustainable development are not sufficient enough to address the current global ecological crises and with the dominance of the capitalist world system it is quite difficult to mitigate the present environmental problems. It must be said that to address the ecological imbalance and environmental destruction a poised step must be taken that should entail the process of amalgamating economic, social and political approaches on a simultaneous basis. More political and social support is needed to make the efforts of conservationists and environmentalists a success and to usher a wholesome positive environmental change there should be cooperation between all the three major arenas, viz. social, economic, and political. It should be noted that covering a huge arena starting from pre-Industrial Revolution to post-Industrial Revolution through to the era of modernization, Foster has depicted a expansive picture of the ecological and environmental degradation and this paper has supported Foster’s argument, and pivotally the claim that modernization has impacted negatively on the environment. 

Place Order For A Top Grade Assignment Now

We have some amazing discount offers running for the students

Place Your Order


Foster, J.B. (1999). The Vulnerable Planet: A Short Economic History of the Environment. US: NYU Press. 

Get Quality Assignment Without Paying Upfront

Hire World's #1 Assignment Help Company

Place Your Order