The Shadows of Consumption

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2010-09-24
  • Publisher: Mit Pr

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Winner of the 2009 Gerald L. Young Book Award in Human Ecology given by the Society for Human Ecology. The Shadows of Consumptiongives 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. He 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 fuel-efficient 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.

Table of Contents

Abbreviationsp. ix
Prefacep. xi
Acknowledgmentsp. xv
Introduction: The Ecological Shadows of Rising Consumptionp. 1
An Unbalanced Global Political Economyp. 3
Dying of Consumptionp. 19
Automobilesp. 33
Accidental Dependency? The Road to an Auto Worldp. 35
A Better Ride: Selling Safe and Cleanp. 43
The Road Tollsp. 53
The Globalization of Accidents and Emissionsp. 61
Leaded Gasolinep. 65
Leaded Science: Pumping Out Profits and Risksp. 67
Lead Must Gop. 79
Taking the Lead Out of Africap. 89
The Globalization of Riskp. 93
Refrigeratorsp. 97
Refrigerating the Ozone Layerp. 99
Phasing Out CFC Refrigeratorsp. 107
Selling the ˘Superior÷ Refrigeratorp. 119
The Globalization of Plugging Inp. 129
Beefp. 133
The Efficient Steer: Fast, Fat, and Cheapp. 135
The Ecology of Big Beefp. 147
Sustainable Beef? Chasing a Stampede of ˘Regular÷ Steersp. 155
The Globalization of More Meatp. 165
The Harp Seal Huntp. 169
To the Red Ice: Heroes and Overharvestingp. 171
The Brutes! Killing Markets with Activismp. 183
Hunting Beaters for Globalizing Marketsp. 193
The Globalization of Slippery Marketsp. 203
Conclusion: Transforming Global Consumptionp. 207
The Illusions of Environmentalismp. 209
A Brighter World Order of Balanced Consumptionp. 219
Notesp. 233
Referencesp. 263
Indexp. 289
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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