The Bridge at the Edge of the World Capitalism, the Environment, and Crossing from Crisis to Sustainability James Gustave Speth

Format:
Paperback
Publication date:
24 Mar 2009
ISBN:
9780300151152
Imprint:
Yale University Press
Dimensions:
320 pages: 210 x 140mm
Illustrations:
8 b-w illus.
Sales territories:
World

“My point of departure in this book is the momentous environmental challenge we face.  But today’s environmental reality is linked powerfully with other realities, including growing social inequality and neglect and the erosion of democratic governance and popular control. . . . As citizens we must now mobilize our spiritual and political resources for transformative change on all three fronts.”—Gus Speth

How serious are the threats to our environment? Here is one measure of the problem: if we continue to do exactly what we are doing, with no growth in the human population or the world economy, the world in the latter part of this century will be unfit to live in. Of course human activities are not holding at current levels—they are accelerating, dramatically—and so, too, is the pace of climate disruption, biotic impoverishment, and toxification. In this book Gus Speth, author of Red Sky at Morning and a widely respected environmentalist, begins with the observation that the environmental community has grown in strength and sophistication, but the environment has continued to decline, to the point that we are now at the edge of catastrophe.

Speth contends that this situation is a severe indictment of the economic and political system we call modern capitalism. Our vital task is now to change the operating instructions for today’s destructive world economy before it is too late. The book is about how to do that.

James Gustave Speth, a distinguished leader and founder of environmental institutions over the past four decades, is dean of the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies at Yale University. He was awarded Japan’s Blue Planet Prize for “a lifetime of creative and visionary leadership in the search for science-based solutions to global environmental problems.” He lives in New Haven, CT.

"Contemporary capitalism and a habitable planet cannot coexist. That is the core message of The Bridge at the Edge of the World, by Gus Speth, a prominent environmentalist who, in this book, has turned sharply critical of the U.S. environmental movement. . . . This book is an extremely probing and thoughtful diagnosis of the root causes of planetary distress."—Ross Gelbspan, Washington Post Book World


"With candor, cadence and clarity, Speth presents a compelling case for prompt action, making this book a must-read on the subject. Protecting the environment needs not just an overhaul of institutions, but of values and mindsets, he says. . . . He argues that we must now choose between two paths: one leading to destruction, the other to a bridge that would help us cross to safety. Like an evangelist, Speth draws not just on facts, but anecdotes, quotes, even poetry to make his point."—Le-Min Lim, Chicago Tribune


"Speth laments the tortuously slow pace of environmental activism in the face of the near-calamitous decline of species, soils, forests and oceans, and the dangerous advance of global warming. . . . But the challenges are too grave to wait for a new president. Speth's book makes it abundantly clear: Start ourselves, while (hopefully) there's still time."—Neal Peirce, Washington Post Writers Group


"Contemporary capitalism and a habitable planet cannot coexist. . . . This book is an extremely probing and thoughtful diagnosis of the root causes of planetary distress."—Ross Gelbspan, Washington Post Book World


"With candor, cadence and clarity, Speth presents a compelling case for prompt action, making this book a must-read. . . . Like an evangelist, Speth draws not just on facts, but anecdotes, quotes, even poetry to make his point."—Le-Min Lim, Chicago Tribune


"A highly respected environmental leader, Speth has come to the conclusion that our capitalist market economy depends on growth in material production at levels that cannot continue without destroying the earth's natural support system. His book makes a strong case for redefining the aims of the economy; but the path forward, especially as developing nations aspire to Western standards of living, is far from clear. He believes the environmental movement as well as the government is failing to lead the way to essential change."—Leslie Carothers, Wall Street Journal


"With candor, cadence and clarity, Speth presents a compelling case for prompt action, making this book a must-read on the subject."—Bloomberg News


"James Gustav Speth . . . leads us to a bridge at the edge of the world—an epic transformation of the way we live, produce, and consume. This is a fantastic, highly topical and potentially important book. It should widely be read, and translated into other languages."—Udo E. Simonis, Environmental Information + Environmental Policy


"When someone as well placed as James Gustave Speth speaks out, you have to listen. . . . A masterly, uncompromising analysis and critique of where we are right now, a must-read."—Liz Elise, New Scientist


"An important message from such an influential and mainstream figure in the environmental movement. . . . Speth's importance is to bring the relationship between capitalism and climate change into mainstream debate, where it should stay."—Paul  Gillespie, Irish Times


"Speth clearly demonstrates his mastery of the subject in this publication, which is well researched and written, providing a wealth of relevant references. It makes highly recommended and compelling reading for all those with a serious interest in the environment and the future of planet Earth, especially for existing and potential chartered environmentalists."—Alan Stainer, Materials World


". . . a wealth of information and insight on the full spectrum of the environmental, economic, political, social and psychological challenges that we face … the most condensed, comprehensive and convincing book of its kind . . . the one that I would like to throw at every politician and every corporate leader … clarifying, reinforcing and supportive."—John Whitmore, Resurgence, No. 253


Selected as a Top 5 Environment Book in New England by the Boston Globe


Selected as one of the best books of 2008 by the Washington Post in the Nature & The Environment category


Finalist for the 2009 Orion Book Award, given by The Orion Society


"Honest, insightful, and courageous. Dean Speth draws on his formidable experience and wisdom to ask why we are failing to preserve a habitable Earth. His conclusions are cogent, revolutionary, and essential."—David W. Orr, Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies and Politics, Oberlin College. Author of Design on the Edge and Earth in Mind


"When a figure as eminent and mainstream as Gus Speth issues a warning this strong and profound, the world should take real notice. This is an eloquent, accurate, and no-holds-barred brief for change large enough to matter."—Bill McKibben, author, Deep Economy and The Bill McKibben Reader


"An extremely important book both for what it says and for who is saying it. The steady transformation of a solid, pragmatic, progressive negotiator into a 'radical and unrealistic' oracle concerned with the fundamental nature of modern economies is an important event."—Richard Norgaard, University of California, Berkeley


"One can scarcely choose a more important or timely subject than this one. Speth writes about it with passion and conviction, and a touch of humor."—J. R. McNeill, Georgetown University


"What a delight to read Gus Speth's' new book, which no one else could write but all will admire, stunned by his remarkable talents. The book opens vast new opportunities for thought and discussion in science and public affairs and will undoubtedly long stand as the classic that it is."—George M. Woodwell, Founder, Director Emeritus, and Senior Scientist, Woods Hole Research Center



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