The Shadows of Consumption: Consequences for the Global Environment

Peter Dauvergne, Author . MIT $24.95 (315p) ISBN 978-0-262-04246-8

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.)

Reviewed on: 08/04/2008
Release date: 10/01/2008
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 315 pages - 978-0-262-51492-7
Open Ebook - 333 pages - 978-0-262-27123-3
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