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Cover Poverty and Development

10. Environmental Degradation and Sustainability  

Kathryn Hochstetler

This chapter studies the rise of global environmental concern, identifying major events and debates as they unfolded. Much human economic activity can be described as primary commodity production or manufacturing. Each of these has a potentially negative impact on the environment. The chapter then looks at the 'environmentalism of the poor', which tends to be based on material survival needs rather than post-material values. It also summarizes two discourses on the causes of sustainability and unsustainability. The Global Environmental Management discourse looks for top-down interventions to come from states or market actors, viewing local populations as the cause of much environmental damage. The People-Centred discourse reverses the analysis, arguing that local populations are often able to achieve long-term sustainability in their communities until outside actors like states and market actors disrupt those relations.