Paper short abstract:
The paper illustrates how the negative effects of climate change on Mongolian pastoralists are magnified by economic and political globalization and a shock-therapy transition towards global capitalism.
Paper long abstract:
In recent years, extreme droughts and disaster-winters have led in Mongolia to the death of millions of livestock, and to tens of thousands of herder families losing their livelihoods. Various analysts have interpreted this as evidence that the pastoralist sector in Mongolia is not sustainable, that too many subsistence herders and abundant livestock degrade pasture resources and render the whole system vulnerable. The present paper interrogates this simplistic, causal inference and shows that vulnerability to climate change has complex causes that are connected to processes of political and economic globalization, and to the comprehensive socio-economic changes that have taken place in Mongolia during the last twenty-five years. In particular, it illustrates these the very reliance of herders on the new system of global capitalism by participating in global market for cashmere (fibers from goats) makes them more vulnerable to climate change.
Thus, the current form of Mongolian capitalism acts as a shock-magnifier by connecting the shock-therapy transition from socialism to market capitalism (based on state retrenchment and market integration) to volatile terms of trade for livestock products, and herders' need to finance increased mobility. Economic (increased international trade, direct foreign investment and global financial flows) and political (de-nationalization of certain aspects of the national state, adherence to sets of regulatory structuring principles such as neoliberalism) globalization curtail therefore the ability to plan for adaptations, and create vulnerability traps.
Inequality and Climate Justice in an Overheated World