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Globalisation, Development and the Metabolic Rift

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  • Barbara Harriss-White

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Abstract

The metabolic rift describes the relation between the relatively short extractive cycles of the economy and the very long cycles involved in the creation and restitution of natural resources. This rift is now globalised and so acute that nature is failing in both its long-cycle roles. Responses that focus on politically chosen goals for limiting climate change (‘2 degrees’) reduce to one dimension a set of processes that has many dimensions and calls for a far wider set of changes. The main political response – international ‘deals’ for collective action by countries to limit the output of greenhouse gases - is shown to be not only reductionist but also a discursive tower of babel involving more procrastination than serious will to act. The lecture will outline the (sometimes surprising) responses not so much of countries as of the most powerful economic actors on the planet in terms of the way they see the crisis, how urgent they are, and what they are doing or proposing to do. [ The 2015 Globalisation Lecture as delivered at SOAS on March 2nd 2015]

Suggested Citation

  • Barbara Harriss-White, 2015. "Globalisation, Development and the Metabolic Rift," Working Papers id:7912, eSocialSciences.
  • Handle: RePEc:ess:wpaper:id:7912
    Note: Institutional Papers
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