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View from the 'Anti-Global South': On Poverty, Global Warming, and the Illusion of Creating Wealth

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Type: Working Paper
Author: Trawick, Paul
Date: 2006
Agency:
Series:
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10535/4376
Sector: General & Multiple Resources
Global Commons
Region:
Subject(s): globalization
poverty
climate change
indigenous institutions
irrigation
common pool resources
collective action
consumption
economic growth
sustainability
Abstract: A Working Paper, now under review by Current Anthropology: please do not quote or cite without the author's permission. "The author examines the relationship between global warming and the poverty prevailing today in the global South, relating both problems to an illusion or 'myth' that is the central pillar supporting the dominant 'culture of consumption' in the North. Affluent people widely share a world-view that, he argues, is based on an illusion--the idea that people create material wealth--and they thoroughly confuse the properties of two very different things in their minds: productive capital and finance capital. The world economy and its recent 'growth', being based almost entirely on the consumption of nonrenewable resources and fossil fuels, form a largely closed system that, as such, is governed by the First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics. Poverty and global warming are thus inevitable outcomes of affluence and economic 'growth' as we have chosen to define and measure them historically. This 'closed-system' view, he argues, and the corollary position that economic growth is in reality destructive, are paradigmatic of the perspective prevailing today in the global South and lying at the heart of the 'anti-globalization' movement. Based on empirical research into local economies that are based on this idea of 'limited good', he explores its potential for achieving truly positive and sustainable change."

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