mechanically washed, chemically sprayed to inhibit sprouting, colored and waxed to increase consumer appeal, and transported and stored under controlled conditions. Potatoes sold for potato chips must also be chemically sprayed weeks prior to planting to kill the stems; otherwise, the starch buildup would produce unappealing (but otherwise nutritious) dark potato chips. These potatoes also are chemically treated to prevent darkening after they are peeled and sliced; oils, salts, and preservatives are added in the cooking; and, finally, the end product is packaged in special containers and shipped. Manufacturers expend additional marketing costs and energy to convince consumers to buy the chips. Thus, the human and nonhuman energy required to convert a potato into potato chips is far greater than the energy expended in New Guinea to produce a more nutritious sweet potato! Moreover, we do not fully appreciate the health risks of our practice of adding some 2,500 substances to our foods to color them, flavor them, or preserve them. Question 2.2 Why Are Some Societies More Industrially Advanced Than Others? Even if we agree that hunters and gatherers do not have it that bad and that simpler forms of agriculture are more energy- efficient than modern techniques for growing crops and delivering food, we still have not explained the vast divisions in the modern world between rich nations and poor nations. If progress is not the reason, why then do most people in the industrial world enjoy a standard of living superior to those in the so-called nonindustrial or underdeveloped countries of the world? Why, in 2014, did almost a billion people live in absolute poverty, earning the equivalent of less than $1.90 a day, while, according to the Maryland-based Bread for the World Institute, 358 billionaires listed by Forbes magazine have a combined net worth equal to the combined income of the bottom 45% of the world’s population? And why, from 2000 to 2007, did the number of individuals with net assets of $1 million rise from
some 7.5 million to 9.5 million, representing only 0.01% of the world’s population? (See Lysandrou, 2011.) Trying to answer these questions requires an excursion into world economic history of the past 300 years, but rather than try to pack three centuries of history into the next few pages, let us see what we can learn from the story of the expansion of one industry, in one country, during one phase of its development: the textile industry in England in the last half of the 18th century and the first half of the 19th century. Prior to the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in Europe, the world was significantly different in its distribution of wealth. China was arguably the richest country in the world during the 16th and 17th centuries as gold and silver taken from the mines of South America by the Spanish and Portuguese were funneled into China to pay for Chinese silks, spices, teas, and luxury goods; India was developing a thriving cotton textile industry as Indian calicoes flooded into Europe. Wealthy states had
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- Spring '16