Economic activities that degrade the environment do not simply pit humans against nature. They also pit some humans against others. Some benefit from these activities; others bear net costs from pollution and resource depletion.
In a provocative and original analysis, James K. Boyce examines the dynamics of environmental degradation in terms of the balances of power between the winners and the losers. He provides evidence that inequalities of power and wealth affect not only the distribution of environmental costs, but also their overall magnitude: greater inequalities result in more environmental degradation. Democratization – movement toward a more equitable distribution of power – therefore is not only a worthwhile objective in its own right, but also an important means toward the social goals of environmental protection and sustainable development.
Combining theoretical analysis with empirical evidence from around the world, James K. Boyce demonstrates that changes in our relationship with nature ultimately require changes in our relationships with each other. He maintains that a more democratic and environmentally sustainable future is possible, but warns that it is not inevitable.
This book will appeal to students, scholars, policymakers and other readers interested in the environment, economics and public policy.