EVOLVING BIOSPHERIC STRESS In the previous chapter we examined a double movement of two distinct and often contesting forces at play – the global dynamic now shaping the market, and the coalescence of diverse actors at odds with this homogenising and hegemonic tendency. This second pincer of the double movement reflected a growing disquiet with the widening gap between emerging patterns of production, distribution and consumption on the one hand, and the system’s capacity to satisfy material and psychosocial needs and aspirations on the other. In particular, as economic flows increased in intensity and scale across geopolitical and jurisdictional boundaries, established institutions of governance, notably the national state, appeared less and less able to meet the functions entrusted to them. Accentuating this tendency were the rising expectations encouraged by a rapidly changing cultural environment, thereby compounding the difficulties of the national state as it moved from the Modern age into the current transitional period. A critically important and closely related dimension of this double movement was the escalating tension between the dynamics of economic growth and limits to sustainability, a subject to which we now turn our attention. As we have noted, the post-1945 period had been marked by the increasingly complex organisation of human society, characterised by an ever more diverse set of interactions on a global scale. Human intervention in the physical environment was associated with a correspondingly rapid development in the scale and severity of impacts on the biosphere. It was only a matter of time before the...
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