The relationship between trade and the environment has become an increasingly contentious issue between economists and environmentalists. Economists maintain that trade helps the natural environment because rich countries can better afford to protect their unspoiled areas. Environmentalists counter that the pursuit of national wealth drives global environmental degradation and that free trade accelerates the process.
Instead of arguing one side or the other, this book uses new analytic methods, including a systems dynamics model, to seek an answer to the impasse. Using lateral pressure theory to account for politics within and among nations, it extends the theory's initial application (which was to explain the onset of war) to the environment by specifying additional connections between the natural and social spheres. In making explicit the complex causal connections between world trade and environmental degradation, the book finds that GNP increases in the rich, developed countries are linked to deforestation in the poorer, developing countries. It also uses insights derived from this finding to critique current trade policy prescriptions.
About the Author
Corey L. Lofdahl is a Senior Scientist for Charles River Analytics in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
"Lofdahl asks a bold question and chooses an uncommon path to find an answer. He shows an admirable command of the literature and impressive mastery of a wide range of analytic methods. And all this is presented through the clearest writing I have seen in years."
—Brian M. Pollins, The Mershon Center and Department of Political Science, Ohio State University
"This intriguing study applies lateral pressure theory previously used to understand great-power wars to global North-South relations and the environmental consequences of free trade. Lofdahl's work is notable for its use of multiple methodologies to analyze complex systems."
—Joshua S. Goldstein, Professor of International Relations, American University