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Global Environmental Change: Understanding the Human Dimensions
odds with conservation and long-term sustainability and, moreover, that the capitalist class exacerbates the process through its strong influence on public policy. The argument is sometimes illustrated with the case of development in the Amazon.
The critique of capitalism can be criticized for relying on a global, highly generalizing contrast between capitalist market economies and precapitalist, subsistence, socially undifferentiated groups that presumably maintain a delicate balance with the natural environment. It does not account for the fact that noncapitalist societies without private property may perpetuate large-scale environmental abuses, as in the case of the drying of the Aral Sea for irrigation purposes in the Soviet Union (Medvedev, 1990) or the reliance on inefficient coal burning technology in China. It does not account for labor resistance to environmental protection when it seems to threaten loss of jobs, such as opposition to restrictions on mining and burning Appalachian coal. And it does not acknowledge the existence within fully integrated market economies of stable, intensively producing family farmers and smallholder land-use regimes that modify but do not permanently degrade their habitat.
Some analysts trace environmental deterioration, particularly in developing countries, to an international division between rich Western industrial and poor Third World raw material-producing nations that fosters political-economic dependence. Unequal terms of trade drain capital from peripheral or satellite regions to core areas. Underdevelopment and poverty are "developed" and perpetuated by market mechanisms (Wallerstein, 1976; Frank, 1967). This analysis emphasizes the effects of foreign investment, loans, the operations of large corporations, and quantifiable movements of capital, labor, imports, and exports on particular changes in the environment. Again, the Amazon case is sometimes offered as an example.
This dependency model highlights the important role of foreign capital and extractive industries, but because it pits a monolithic global capitalism against a similarly undifferentiated and largely passive Third World, it cannot account for the historical specificity of particular cases or the variability in internal dynamics as systems adapt (Wolf, 1982). Dependency theorists often overlook the role and complicity of national elites (Hecht and Cockburn, 1989). The model has been criticized as imprecise in that the notion of unequal terms of trade is inadequately defined. And contrary to the simple view of dependency, pressures from international lending institutions are now beginning to influence Area-