Reviewing the lives and thoughts of some of the women and men who have addressed the crucial problems of ecology and sustainability that we are currently facing. I have tried to let them speak to us in their own words.
We face an ecological crisis
The Industrial Revolution marked the start of massive human use of fossil fuels. The stored energy from several hundred million years of plant growth began to be used at roughly a million times the rate at which it had been formed. The effect on human society was like that of a narcotic. There was a euphoric (and totally unsustainable) surge of growth of both population and industrial production. Meanwhile, the carbon released into the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels began to duplicate the conditions which led to the 5 geologically-observed mass extinctions, during each of which more than half of all living species disappeared forever.
Industrialism and the rapid development of science and technology have given some parts of the world a 200-year period of unbroken expansion and growth, but today this growth is headed for a collision with a wall-like barrier - limits set by the carrying capacity of the global environment and by the exhaustion of non-renewable resources. Encountering these limits is a new experience for the industrialized countries. By contrast, pre-industrial societies have always experienced limits. The industrialized world must soon replace the economics of growth with equilibrium economics. Pre-industrial societies have already learned to live in equilibrium - in harmony with nature.
It is assumed by many people in the industrialized North that if the developing countries would only learn mass production, modern farming techniques and a modern lifestyle, all would be well. However, a sustainable global future may require a transfer of knowledge, techniques and attitudes in precisely the opposite direction - from pre-industrial societies to highly industrialized ones. The reason for this is that the older societies have cultures that allow them to live in a sustainable way, in harmony with nature. This is exactly what the highly industrial North must learn to do.
We need their voices today!
How can we avoid the ecological mega catastrophe that is currently threatening both human society and the biosphere? How can we achieve a stable and sustainable global society? Voices from those who have thought deeply about the problems can help us. We need their voices today!
1 The book may be freely downloaded and circulated from this link. Some of my other books and articles can be found on the following link. I hope that you will circulate these links to friends who might be interested.