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Can We Survive the Lifestyle Choices of the Planet’s Ecologically Privileged Class?

There is a refusal by and seeming inability of members of —let’s call them the twenty percent—to see their very ways of life, and their associated gargantuan levels of consumption as problems in need of radical redress.

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The ecological challenges we face as a planet are enormous, and ominous in terms of what they suggest for the well-being of peoples and places across the planet and the biosphere as a whole. In this regard, the ending of Baldwin’s retort to Faulkner could not be timelier:  “There is never time in the future in which we will work out our salvation. The challenge is in the moment, the time is always now.”

Joseph Nevins teaches geography at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York. His books include Dying to Live: A Story of U.S. Immigration in an Age of Global Apartheid (City Lights Books, 2008), and Operation Gatekeeper and Beyond: The War on “Illegals” and the Remaking of the U.S.-Mexico Boundary (Routledge, 2010).

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