it may also raise the standard of environmental quality expected by the population.
Socioeconomic Marginalization Some observers hypothesize that the global spread of capitalism has forced certain individuals, groups, and countries into a position of diminishing control over needed resources and reduced options for survival and for responding to global change. Indigenous sociocultural systems of social security are believed to be crumbling, with new capitalist economies doing little to replace the lost safety nets. Economically marginalized individuals and groups sometimes degrade the environment for subsistence and lack the resources to respond effectively to natural or human-induced damage. Marginalization and impoverishment of nations can have the same consequences for national policies and actions (Hewitt, 1983; Sen, 1981; Watts, 1987).
Geopolitical Shifts The trend in 1989-1991 of declining tensions between East and West may facilitate human response to global environmental change through reallocating funds from military uses, lowering the potential for widespread nuclear and/ or chemical warfare, redefining national security to consider environmental as well as military and ideological threats (Brown, 1982; Mathews, 1989; Bush and Gorbachev, 1990), and building trust between powerful nations that will lead to cooperation instead of conflict. At the same time, however, north-south tensions may be increasing with the disparity of wealth between the developed and developing worlds. Such increased tension will make future international cooperative action more difficult and may lead to direct conflict (Agarwal, 1990; Carroll, 1983). The net effect of such geopolitical shifts is very hard to predict.
International Information/Communication Networks A global explosion of information and communication technology has uncertain implications for response to global change. It may facilitate societal response by making it easier for scientists and policy makers around the world to cooperate and share information, disseminate it to the public, and marshal worldwide pressure for response (Cleveland, 1990; Miles et al., 1988; Mowlana and Wilson, 1990; K. Wright, 1990). Examples include international reaction to satellite photographs of daily burning in the Amazon forests and the response of the Soviet peoples to news of the desiccation of the Aral Sea. However, the network may also amplify misinformation or create barriers to response by spreading the word that some nations may gain from environmental change.
Democratization As of mid-1991, there appears to be a worldwide trend toward increasing decision-making power of the