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Disaster Capitalism Marches On February 26, 2009

Posted by Dwight Furrow in Current Events, Dwight Furrow's Posts.

The current recession is caused by plummeting demand for goods (triggered in part by the credit crisis.) But as we set about trying to boost demand by encouraging consumption, we might give some thought to the consequences.

As Peter Dauvergne argues in his recent book, increasing global consumption patterns are overwhelming any environmental gains we have made through stricter environmental laws or more diligent conservation. Despite a global environmental movement that succeeds in reducing the environmental impact of each thing we produce, we produce more and more stuff (and never decide to produce less). Even the solutions to problems caused by consumer goods often require that  we produce more of something else. (Replacing leaded gasoline with unleaded gasoline did not entail any reduction in the use of gasoline and in fact encouraged the export of leaded gas.)

Despite many environmental victories in the U.S., global corporations respond by transferring the risk to countries less able to put up much resistance

As a result, more and more ecosystems are in crisis, and rising populations just makes the whole problem inexorable.

Only binding international agreements and international regulations that force corporations to fully capture the real costs of consumption, along with more responsible consumption decisions on the part of individuals, will change this equation.

Obama’s recent policy proposals on regulating greenhouse gases are welcome but only a first step.

Small bore, centrist policies will not solve the problem when disaster capitalism is on the march.



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