Dauvergne (Paths to the Green World) takes a look at five industries to see what consequences they have on local and global environments, showing "the environmental spillovers from the corporate, trade, and financing chains that supply and replace consumer goods." He points out that "cumulative progress is not keeping pace with the impact of rising consumption in a globalizing economy" and higher environmental standards in first world countries often means transferring ecological degradation to poorer regions. The author's examinations of the ecological effects of automobiles, leaded gasoline and CFCs reveal that industries usually undermine efforts toward safety and sustainability until they find a salable substitute, thus ensuring more profits. An analysis of the harp seal hunt demonstrates that although activists saved seals from near extinction in the 1970s-1980s, their publicity campaigns will be unlikely to make an impact in markets like Russia and China. Dauvergne proposes "balanced consumption," but his solutions range from the unlikely-that "international donors... serve the interests of people and ecosystems in developing states more than the financial interests at home"-to the fanciful-that "the World Trade Organization... guide global trade with anticipatory strategies to prevent ecological shadows." (Oct.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The Shadows of Consumption: Consequences for the Global Environmentby Peter Dauvergne
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The Shadows of Consumption gives a hard-hitting diagnosis: many of the earth's ecosystems and billions of its people are at risk from the consequences of rising consumption. Products ranging from cars to hamburgers offer conveniences and pleasures; but, as Peter Dauvergne makes clear, global political and economic processes displace the real costs of consumer goods into distant ecosystems, communities, and timelines, tipping into crisis people and places without the power to resist. In The Shadows of Consumption, Peter Dauvergne maps the costs of consumption that remain hidden in the shadows cast by globalized corporations, trade, and finance. Dauvergne traces the environmental consequences of five commodities: automobiles, gasoline, refrigerators, beef, and harp seals. In these fascinating histories we learn, for example, that American officials ignored warnings about the dangers of lead in gasoline in the 1920s; why China is now a leading producer of CFC-free refrigerators; and how activists were able to stop Canada's commercial seal hunt in the 1980s (but are unable to do so now). Dauvergne's innovative analysis allows us to see why so many efforts to manage the global environment are failing even as environmentalism is slowly strengthening. He proposes a guiding principle of "balanced consumption" for both consumers and corporations. We know that we can make things better by driving a high-mileage car, eating locally grown food, and buying energy-efficient appliances; but these improvements are incremental, local, and insufficient. More crucial than our individual efforts to reuse and recycle will be reforms in the global political economy to reduce the inequalities of consumption and correct the imbalance between growing economies and environmental sustainability.
Dauvergne's brilliant investigation will show you the 'other side' of the coin and that we must all incorporate a deeper awareness and take the 'long view' into our efforts to make a positive difference for human well-being near and far -- immediately in your neighborhood and incrementally on the other side of the planet.
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What People are Saying About This
The ecological and social consequences of modern patterns of consumption are often overlooked, underestimated, and poorly theorized. Engaging, convincing, and nuanced, Peter Dauvergne's book masterfully excavates and politicizes the shadows of consumption that modern life casts, from the consumption of beef to the use of cars and fridges. Wide-ranging and superbly written, this book is sure to be widely read.
In The Shadows of Consumption, Peter Dauvergne tackles the often hidden consequences of globalization and consumption for the environment and for human health and well-being. He demonstrates how the worst of these consequences are displaced, often to the most marginalized sectors of global society, and discusses ways to cast light into the shadows of global economic development. This book will be essential reading for students and scholars, indeed anyone interested in understanding more about globalization and its impacts.
Meet the Author
Peter Dauvergne is Professor of International Relations at the University of British Columbia. He is the author of The Shadows of Consumption: Consequences for the Global Environment and Eco-Business: A Big-Brand Takeover of Sustainability (with Jane Lister), both published by the MIT Press.
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