Summary of Environmentalism of the Rich

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The environmental movement has had far more impact than most mass movements over the last 50 years. Yet University of British Columbia international relations professor, Peter Dauvergne, an award-winning environmental writer, warns that the movement risks losing its edge if it allows large companies to define its agenda. Businesses usually care only about profitability and most don’t consider the environmental impact of their actions. While recognizing successes, environmentalists need to debate and attack ineffective market solutions, insincere initiatives parading as “corporate social responsibility,” and business partnerships with nongovernmental organizations. People must get angry about increased consumption, income inequality and economic growth pursued without thought of the ecological consequences. Dauvergne urges environmentalists to embrace responsibility for change. His exploration of environmentalism is thought provoking and sobering. While always politically neutral, getAbstract recommends his treatise to environmentalists, corporate executives, policy makers and managers of nonprofits.

About the Author

University of British Columbia international relations professor Peter Dauvergne wrote two award-winning environmental books: Shadows in the Forest and The Shadows of Consumption.



A Pressing Problem

In 2016, the world’s population reached 7.4 billion people. That figure could increase to more than 10 billion over the 40 following years. Humanity has to confront a pressing problem: How can such a mass of people share the Earth without destroying it? Symptoms of “unsustainability” are already apparent. The world suffers increasingly frequent droughts. Many places lack sufficient fresh water and desertification is accelerating.

In 2015, former NASA scientist James Hansen and 16 co-authors suggested that if global temperatures rise 2°C [3.6°F] above the levels that existed before industrialization, the effect would be catastrophic, including such consequences as sea levels rising 10 feet by 2100. If current trends continue, temperatures could keep rising, leading to more climatic instability and possibly to the “sixth mass extinction” described by Elizabeth Kolbert and, separately, by Richard Leakey and Robert Lewin. Globalization is creating an increasing number of energy users whose increased consumption undermines the environment. Ecological conditions continue to worsen despite the growing prominence of the environmental...

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