The PHLASK concept, which was conceived in May, has been nurtured to its current form through the support and encouragement of Philadelphians who believe that water should remain abundant, clean and accessible to everyone.
Instrumental to helping the PHLASK Project scale has been Deep Green Philly’s inspirational vision for Environmental Justice. The following short essay discusses how the PHLASK Project can be a tangible contribution to the advancement of Environmental Justice
Advancing Environmental Justice
PHLASK believes that Environmental Justice begins by respecting the ecological impacts that all life has on one another. A spiritual or scientific understanding of ecology recognizes that life is interconnected, and transforming a part of the environment carries ripple effects throughout the greater Environmental system.
Humanity, in its quest for coexistence, has struggled to resolve the conflicts engendered by this interconnected reality. Embedded in our pursuit of self-determination is an extensive history of conflicts between individuals, tribes, societies, civilizations and nations to reconcile our overlapping interdependence on the environment. Throughout history, people have used religion, military force, political contracts and social in-grouping to legitimize environmental claims and win conflicts, but every resolution has been ephemeral and inequitable, and the resurgence of environmental conflict inevitable.
The advent of capitalism from Western Enlightenment was supposed to be the moral answer to environmental justice; an environmental economy that bestowed among actors “objective” property laws of how land and resources could be apportioned and regulated. The system, of course, disenfranchised any non-white men, whose claims to ‘property’ were not only denied, but also subjugated them to being treated as property themselves. The past 400 years have evolved into a global struggle to reform capitalism to be more equitable, but the legacies of inequality persist. Moreover, what was initially conceived of as a planet of infinite abundance has been mapped, measured and exploited to its natural limits.
How can we transition from a capitalist framework that has failed to provide universal environmental justice, to a system that yields true environmental justice?
PHLASK believes this begins with re-calibrating the capitalist economic order, which stipulates provisions for the lawful exploitation of the environment, to a socialized economic system, which treats the environment as a resource to be shared equitably. The most fundamental resource for our carbon-based environmental system is water. In order to transition to a socialized system for environmental stewardship, we have to collectively unite to make the most basic unit of that system – water – a socialized resource.
The steps to transforming water into a socialized resource begin with removing it from the realm of capitalism – environmental exploitation – into the realm of socialism – environmental sharing. The PHLASK Project is the conscious effort to galvanize an understanding of how our relationship with resources and the environment doesn’t have to be exploitative, but rather cooperative.
This Project is not a panacea for Environmental Justice, nor is it the panacea for Water Justice. That said, we hope that the PHLASK Project can illustrate the potential to reconceptualize resources for shared consumption.
For more discussion about Environmental Justice, please follow the Deep Green Philly resources:
This is a podcasting and news website inspired first and foremost by the certainty that we are on the wrong path as a species. Oil spills, destruction of other species and their habitats, nuclear meltdowns, trash strewn oceans, carcinogens in our air and drinking water, runaway global warming…is this the kind of world we want to live in and leave behind?
…In addition to radical ecology and environmentalism, Deep Green Philly will also explore a variety of social justice issues, many of which intersect with the struggle for ecological and environmental justice