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Confronting the Contradiction: Global Capitalism and Environmental Health

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This paper examines the contradiction of economic globalization and environmental health. Despite the emergence of a significant environmental movement, the ecological health of many democratic industrial nation-states remains poor and the overall environmental health of the planet is declining rapidly (Brown 2000). The first section of this paper reviews literature that suggests that the inability of democratic industrial nation-states to reduce environmental degradation results from compromising environmental health in the interests of capital accumulation by regulating rather than eliminating environmentally destructive behaviors. The failure of democratic industrial nationstates to achieve environmental health is being exacerbated further by the creation of a globalized capitalist system managed by a variety of international free-trade agreements and the World Trade Organization. In the second section, we examine decisions made by these new managers of capital over the interests of environmental health. In the last section of this paper, we deconstruct the ideological tenets of global capitalism as they pertain to achieving environmental health and social justice.

Affiliations: 1: Fort Lewis College, Department of Sociology, 1000 Rim Drive, Durango, Colorado, 81301-3999, USA.


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