Publisher Summary Changes in the physical environment have created a new political challenge, that is, the question of how to deal with the maintenance of the world's basic stock of natural capital. This chapter discusses this problem, which is closely linked to the more general social issues of economic interrelations and economic development. A great deal depends on the attitude taken by the developed countries. These countries must take the initiative in tackling global environmental threats and assist the poorest countries in solving their environmental problems having both, local and international effects. In doing so, the developed countries need to foster the development of the developing countries, for an environmental problem is also a matter of international inequality. The problems must be tackled within the context of a world system that is characterized by great cultural, political, and economic heterogeneity.