It is clear that the environmental record of governments across the world falls hopelessly short of radical Green objectives, and, arguably — at least in public — environmentalists should stop expecting governments to achieve them. As Barry (1999: 27) points out: ‘The problem with deep ecology is that it brings green politics into irresolvable conflict with settled convictions, giving it a “fundamentalist” complexion which is a hindrance to convincing non-believers to support its political aims’. However, it should also be recognized that until relatively recently, many countries were governed according to a cornucopian ideology, which accepted the validity of unrestrained economic growth and an instrumental attitude towards the exploitation of the natural world, and was naively optimistic about science and technology’s ability to come up with solutions to environmental problems (Pearce et al., 1993: 18–9). It is a mark of how far the world has come that, in rhetoric at least, few governments would now subscribe to this ideology.
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