What Environmentalism Overlooks

Partha Dasgupta looks at Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive by Jared Diamond, in the London Review of Books:

Diamond’s reading of the collapses is original, for nature doesn’t figure prominently in contemporary intellectual sensibilities. Economists, for example, have moved steadily away from seeing location as a determinant of human experience. Indeed, economic progress is seen as a release from location’s grip on our lives. Economists stress that investment and growth in knowledge have reduced transport costs over the centuries. They observe, too, the role of industrialisation in ironing out the effects on societies of geographical difference, such as differences in climate, soil quality, distance from navigable water and, concomitantly, local ecosystems. Modern theories of economic development dismiss geography as a negligible factor in progress. The term ‘globalisation’ is itself a sign that location per se doesn’t matter; which may be why contemporary societies are obsessed with cultural survival and are on the whole dismissive of our need to discover how to survive ecologically…

More here.