Global Threats, Global Futures

Global Threats, Global Futures

Living with Declining Living Standards

Thayer Scudder

Global threats can be expected to cause a global environmental crisis and declining living standards for most people. Threats analyzed include poverty, cultural, economic, political and religious fundamentalism, consumption, population increase and degradation of the global ecosystem. Chapters on the United States, China and Zambia illustrate difficulties that high, middle and low income countries face in addressing such threats. The final chapter examines the type of transformational change required just to reduce the rate and magnitude of future decline.

Introduction

Thayer Scudder

Subjects: development studies, development economics, economics and finance, development economics, political economy, environment, environmental geography, environmental politics and policy, environmental sociology, management natural resources, geography, human geography, politics and public policy, environmental politics and policy, international politics, international relations, political economy

Extract

INTRODUCTION My research and consulting in 30 countries on three continents over a 55-year period have convinced me that future generations throughout the world can expect a continuing decline in living standards due to existing global threats. I am a social and cultural anthropologist, unlike the large majority of other authors and scholars who have written on global topics. They tend to be biologists, development practitioners, journalists and other social scientists who have seldom done detailed micro-studies of human populations, including on how they impact upon their environment, on how national and international development policies and globalization impact upon them and on how affected individuals, households and communities respond to those impacts. My research and consulting have concentrated on micro-studies, the results of which, I believe, have major policy implications for all high-, middle- and low-income countries. More specifically, my conclusions, experience and observations draw on systematic, longitudinal socio-economic research, during which I have worked for years in some of the world’s most impoverished communities. The origins of this book date back to the second half of the 1990s, when I was preparing for the Society of Applied Anthropology’s 1999 Malinowski Award Lecture. My title was ‘The Emerging Global Crisis and Development Anthropology: Can We Have An Impact?’ The previous year I sent a questionnaire to 89 development anthropologists who had experience with the economic and social impacts of development on poor people and communities around the world. I asked my colleagues to list in order of importance three...