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.

Chapter 1: The Threat of Global Poverty

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 have dealt primarily with poor communities over the past 55 years. This includes Elizabeth Colson’s and my longterm study of the Gwembe Tonga – one of the poorest ethnic groups in Zambia, which is one of the poorest countries in the world. The Gwembe study is one of 21 cases of government-induced community relocation that I have studied in 19 countries in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and North America. All involve poor communities including indigenous people and ethnic minorities. I have also made a special effort to visit communities of the poor studied over the long term by colleagues, to discuss results with them, to contribute to books on long-term community studies1 and to visit povertystricken communities in major cities in low- and middle-income countries. My early morning walks through Mexico City, Cairo, Khartoum, Lagos, Lusaka, Mumbai (Bombay), Delhi, Colombo, Bangkok and Beijing are well known among my colleagues. Only once was I afraid when walking in some of the largest slum communities in the world. That was in perhaps the most impoverished slum community in Delhi, which was built on the exposed flood plain of the Yamuna River. Suddenly I was surrounded by a pack of snarling pariah dogs. Expecting to scare them off – the technique had worked elsewhere – I opened my rolled umbrella and whirled around thrusting it at my attackers. The result only further infuriated them, leaving me helpless as they closed in on my ankles and legs. But just as quickly...

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