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John P. Burkett
Executive Director, ISIAC
Department of Economics
University of Rhode Island
806 Chafee Hall, 10 Chafee Road
Kingston, RI 02881–0808
phone (401) 874–9195
fax (401) 874–2858
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Inappropriate Technology, Poverty, Population Growth, and Modernization: A Vicious Circle of Environmental Degradation

Mohammed Sharif

Institute for the Study of International Aspects of Competition

Working Paper 96-2

This paper proposes a theory of a vicious circle of environmental degradation. It is argued that the use of harmful technology in both production and consumption and their unbridled transplantation in the countries of the South unleash a process of environmental degradation–this process aggravates or at least perpetuates the situation of absolute poverty, and absolute poverty generates socioeconomic conditions favorable to maintaining high fertility and therefore, rapid population growth which creates the potential for severe damage to the environment, in the process of modernization. This theory reassigns the priority for environmental studies and policy from the size of the population to its economic condition and the manner in which it uses the environment. Reduction in absolute poverty and development of environment-friendly technology are recommended as pre-requisites for achieving any sustainable development.

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