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The Environmental Consequences of Inequality

Environmental Consequences of Inequality

PERI researcher James Boyce argues that inequality has important consequences for the extent of pollution and natural resource depletion as well as for the distribution of the costs and benefits from environmental degradation. Inequalities in the distribution of purchasing power operate through the market, and inequalities in the distribution of political power operate through governance institutions. Boyce concludes that environmental degradation is not simply a matter of humans harming other species and ecosystems; it is also a matter of some people harming other people. To rebalance our relationships with nature, it will be necessary to rebalance our relationships among ourselves.

Abstract

Inequality has important consequences for the extent of pollution and natural resource depletion as well as for the distribution of the costs and benefits from environmental degradation. Inequalities in the distribution of purchasing power operate through the market, and inequalities in the distribution of political power operate through governance institutions, often with mutually reinforcing effects.

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