The Bridge at the Edge of the World, April 24, 2008


[Rachel's introduction: This is the introduction to an extraordinary new book (The Bridge at the Edge of the World) by Gus Speth, who is currently Dean of the School of Forestry at Yale University. I don't recommend very many books, but I feel sure that nearly every Rachel's reader will find Gus Speth's new book illuminating and worthwhile reading. -- P.M.]

By James Gustave Speth

Between Two Worlds

The remarkable charts that introduce this book reveal the story of humanity's impact on the natural earth.[1] The pattern is clear: if we could speed up time, it would seem as if the global economy is crashing against the earth -- the Great Collision. And like the crash of an asteroid, the damage is enormous. For all the material blessings economic progress has provided, for all the disease and destitution avoided, for all the glories that shine in the best of our civilization, the costs to the natural world, the costs to the glories of nature, have been huge and must be counted in the balance as tragic loss.

Half the world's tropical and temperate forests are now gone.[2] The rate of deforestation in the tropics continues at about an acre a second.[3] About half the wetlands and a third of the mangroves are gone.[4] An estimated 90 percent of the large predator fish are gone, and 75 percent of marine fisheries are now overfished or fished to capacity.[5] Twenty percent of the corals are gone, and another 20 percent severely threatened.[6] Species are disappearing at rates about a thousand times faster than normal.[7] The planet has not seen such a spasm of extinction in sixty-five million years, since the dinosaurs disappeared.[8] Over half the agricultural land in drier regions suffers from some degree of deterioration and desertification.[9] Persistent toxic chemicals can now be found by the dozens in essentially each and every one of us.[10]

Human impacts are now large relative to natural systems. The earth's stratospheric ozone layer was severely depleted before the change was discovered. Human activities have pushed atmospheric carbon dioxide up by more than a third and have started in earnest the dangerous process of warming the planet and disrupting climate. Everywhere earth's ice fields are melting.[11] Industrial processes are fixing nitrogen, making it biologically active, at a rate equal to nature's; one result is the development of more than two hundred dead zones in the oceans due to overfertilization.[12] Human actions already consume or destroy each year about 40 percent of nature's photosynthetic output, leaving too little for other species.[13] Freshwater withdrawals doubled globally between 1960 and 2000, and are now over half of accessible runoff.[14] The following rivers no longer reach the oceans in the dry season: the Colorado, Yellow, Ganges, and Nile, among others.[15]

Societies are now traveling together in the midst of this unfolding calamity down a path that links two worlds. Behind is the world we have lost, ahead the world we are making.

It is difficult to appreciate the abundance of wild nature in the world we have lost. In America we can think of the pre-Columbian world of 1491, of Lewis and Clark, and of John James Audubon. It is a world where nature is large and we are not. It is a world of majestic old- growth forests stretching from the Atlantic to the Mississippi, of oceans brimming with fish, of clear skies literally darkened by passing flocks of birds. As William MacLeish notes in The Day before America, in 1602 an Englishman wrote in his journal that the fish schooled so thickly he thought their backs were the sea bottom. Bison once roamed east to Florida. There were jaguars in the Southeast, grizzly bear in the Midwest, and wolves, elk and mountain lions in New England.[16]

Audubon described the breathtaking multitudes of the passenger pigeon migration, as well as the rapacity of their wild and human predators:

"Few pigeons were to be seen before sunset; but a great number of persons, with horses and wagons, guns and ammunition, had already established encampments.... Suddenly, there burst forth a general cry of 'Here they come!' The noise which they made, though yet distant, reminded me of a hard gale at sea.... As the birds arrived, and passed over me, I felt a current of air that surprised me. Thousands were soon knocked down by polemen. The current of birds, however, still kept increasing.... The pigeons, coming in by thousands, alighted everywhere, one above another, until solid masses... were formed on every tree, in all directions.... The uproar continues... the whole night.... Toward the approach of day, the noise rather subsided.... The howlings of the wolves now reached our ears; and the foxes, lynxes, cougars, bears, raccoons, opossums, and pole-cats were seen sneaking off from the spot. Whilst eagles and hawks, of different species, accompanied by a crowd of vultures, came to supplant them, and enjoy their share of the spoil. It was then that the authors of all this devastation began their entry amongst the dead, the dying, and the mangled. The pigeons were picked up and piled in heaps, until each had as many as he could possibly dispose of, when the hogs were let loose to feed on the remainder."[17]

The last passenger pigeon on earth expired in a zoo in Cincinnati in 1914. Some decades later, forester and philosopher Aldo Leopold offered these words at a ceremony on this passing: "We grieve because no living man will see again the onrushing phalanx of victorious birds, sweeping a path for spring across the March skies, chasing the defeated winter from all the woods and prairies.... Men still live who, in their youth, remember pigeons. Trees still live who, in their youth, were shaken by a living wind.... There will always be pigeons in books and in museums, but these are effigies and images, dead to all hardships and to all delights. Book-pigeons cannot dive out of a cloud to make the deer run for cover, or clap their wings in thunderous applause of mast-laden woods. Book-pigeons cannot breakfast on new mown wheat in Minnesota and dine on blueberries in Canada. They know no urge of seasons; they feel no kiss of sun, no lash of wind and weather."[18]

Human societies are moving, rapidly now, between the two worlds. The movement began slowly, but now we are hurtling toward the world directly ahead. The old world, nature 's world, continues, of course, but we are steadily closing it down, roping it off. It flourishes in our art and literature and in our imaginations. But it is disappearing.

Economic historian Angus Maddison reports that in the year 1000 there were only about 270 million people on earth -- fewer than today's U.S. population. Global economic output was only about $120 billion. Eight hundred years later, the man-made world was still small. By 1820, populations had risen to about a billion people with an output of only $690 billion. Over this eight hundred years, per capita income increased by only a couple of hundred dollars a year. But shortly thereafter the take-off began. By 2000, populations had swelled by an additional five billion, and, astoundingly, economic output had grown to exceed forty trillion dollars.[19] The acceleration continues. The size of the world economy doubled since 1960, and then doubled again.

World economic activity is projected to quadruple again by midcentury.

Historian J. R. McNeill has stressed the phenomenal expansion of the human enterprise in the twentieth century. It was in the twentieth century, and especially since World War II, that human society truly left the moorings of its past and launched itself on the planet with unprecedented force. McNeill observes that this exponential century "shattered the constraints and rough stability of old economic, demographic, and energy regimes." "In environmental history," he writes, "the twentieth century qualifies as a peculiar century because of the screeching acceleration of so many of the processes that bring ecological change."[20] We live now in a full world, dramatically unlike the world of 1900, or even that of 1950.

Physicists have a precise concept of momentum. To them momentum is mass times velocity, and velocity is not just speed but also direction.

Today the world economy has gathered tremendous momentum -- it is both huge in size and growing fast. But what is its direction?

I am seated in my study as I write this, looking at a stack of books about two feet high. They share a common theme, and it is not a happy one to contemplate. We can see this theme immediately in their titles.[21]

By a conservative jurist: Richard A. Posner, Catastrophe: Risk and Response

By the president of the Royal Society in the United Kingdom: Martin Rees, Our Final Hour: How Terror, Error and Environmental Disaster Threaten Humankind's Future

By a leading American scholar: Jared Diamond, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed

By a British scientist: James Lovelock, The Revenge of Gaia: Why the Earth Is Fighting Back and How We Can Still Save Humanity

By an American expert: James Howard Kunstler, The Long Emergency: Surviving the End of Oil, Climate Change, and Other Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-first Century

By a U.S. expert on conflict: Michael T. Klare, Resource Wars: The New Landscape of Global Conflict

By an Australian diplomat and historian: Colin Mason, The 2030 Spike: The Countdown to Global Catastrophe

That is but a sample of the "collapse" books now on the market. Each of these authors sees the world on a path to some type of collapse, catastrophe, or breakdown, and they each see climate change and other environmental crises as leading ingredients of a devil's brew that also includes such stresses as population pressures, peak oil and other energy supply problems, economic and political instabilities, terrorism, nuclear proliferation, the risks of various twenty-first- century technologies, and similar threats. Some think a bright future is still possible if we change our ways in time; others see a new dark ages as the likely outcome. For Sir Martin Rees, "the odds are no better than fifty-fifty that our present civilization on earth will survive to the end of the present century."[22] Personally, I cannot imagine that the risks are so great, but Rees is a thoughtful individual. In any case, it would be foolish to dismiss these authors.

They provide a stark warning of what could happen.

The escalating processes of climate disruption, biotic impoverishment, and toxification that continue despite decades of warnings and earnest effort constitute a severe indictment, but an indictment of what exactly? If we want to reverse today's destructive trends, forestall further and greater losses, and leave a bountiful world for our children and grandchildren, we must return to fundamentals and seek to understand both the underlying forces driving such destructive trends and the economic and political system that gives these forces free rein. Then we can ask what can be done to change the system.

The underlying drivers of today's environmental deterioration have been clearly identified. They range from immediate forces like the enormous growth in human population and the dominant technologies deployed in the economy to deeper ones like the values that shape our behavior and determine what we consider important in life. Most basically, we know that environmental deterioration is driven by the economic activity of human beings. About half of today's world population lives in abject poverty or close to it, with per capita incomes of less than two dollars a day. The struggle of the poor to survive creates a range of environmental impacts where the poor themselves are often the primary victims -- for example, the deterioration of arid and semiarid lands due to the press of increasing numbers of people who have no other option.

But the much larger and more threatening impacts stem from the economic activity of those of us participating in the modern, increasingly prosperous world economy. This activity is consuming vast quantities of resources from the environment and returning to the environment vast quantities of waste products. The damages are already huge and are on a path to be ruinous in the future. So, a fundamental question facing societies today -- perhaps the fundamental question -- is how can the operating instructions for the modern world economy be changed so that economic activity both protects and restores the natural world?

With increasingly few exceptions, modern capitalism is the operating system of the world economy. I use "modern capitalism" here in a broad sense as an actual, existing system of political economy, not as an idealized model. Capitalism as we know it today encompasses the core economic concept of private employers hiring workers to produce products and services that the employers own and then sell with the intention of making a profit. But it also includes competitive markets, the price mechanism, the modern corporation as its principal institution, the consumer society and the materialistic values that sustain it, and the administrative state actively promoting economic strength and growth for a variety of reasons.

Inherent in the dynamics of capitalism is a powerful drive to earn profits, invest them, innovate, and thus grow the economy, typically at exponential rates, with the result that the capitalist era has in fact been characterized by a remarkable exponential expansion of the world economy. The capitalist operating system, whatever its shortcomings, is very good at generating growth.

These features of capitalism, as they are constituted today, work together to produce an economic and political reality that is highly destructive of the environment. An unquestioning society-wide commitment to economic growth at almost any cost; enormous investment in technologies designed with little regard for the environment; powerful corporate interests whose overriding objective is to grow by generating profit, including profit from avoiding the environmental costs they create; markets that systematically fail to recognize environmental costs unless corrected by government; government that is subservient to corporate interests and the growth imperative; rampant consumerism spurred by a worshipping of novelty and by sophisticated advertising; economic activity so large in scale that its impacts alter the fundamental biophysical operations of the planet -- all combine to deliver an ever-growing world economy that is undermining the planet's ability to sustain life.

The fundamental question thus becomes one of transforming capitalism as we know it: Can it be done? If so, how? And if not, what then? It is to these questions that this book is addressed. The larger part of the book proposes a variety of prescriptions to take economy and environment off collision course. Many of these prescriptions range beyond the traditional environmental agenda.

In Part I of the book, Chapters 1-3, I lay the foundation by elaborating the fundamental challenge just described. Among the key conclusions, summarized here with some oversimplification, are:

** The vast expansion of economic activity that occurred in the twentieth century and continues today is the predominant (but not sole) cause of the environmental decline that has occurred to date. Yet the world economy, now increasingly integrated and globalized, is poised for unprecedented growth. The engine of this growth is modern capitalism or, better, a variety of capitalisms.

** A mutually reinforcing set of forces associated with today's capitalism combines to yield economic activity inimical to environmental sustainability. This result is partly the consequence of an ongoing political default -- a failed politics -- that not only perpetuates widespread market failure -- all the nonmarket environmental costs that no one is paying -- but exacerbates this market failure with deep and environmentally perverse subsidies. The result is that our market economy is operating on wildly wrong market signals, lacks other correcting mechanisms, and is thus out of control environmentally.

** The upshot is that societies now face environmental threats of unprecedented scope and severity, with the possibility of various catastrophes, breakdowns, and collapses looming as distinct possibilities, especially as environmental issues link with social inequities and tensions, resource scarcity, and other issues.

** Today's mainstream environmentalism -- aptly characterized as incremental and pragmatic "problem solving" -- has proven insufficient to deal with current challenges and is not up to coping with the larger challenges ahead. Yet the approaches of modern-day environmentalism, despite their limitations, remain essential: right now, they are the tools at hand with which to address many very pressing problems.

** The momentum of the current system -- fifty-five trillion dollars in output in 2004, growing fast, and headed toward environmental disaster -- is so great that only powerful forces will alter the trajectory. Potent measures are needed that address the root causes of today's destructive growth and transform economic activity into something environmentally benign and restorative.

In short, my conclusion, after much searching and considerable reluctance, is that most environmental deterioration is a result of systemic failures of the capitalism that we have today and that long- term solutions must seek transformative change in the key features of this contemporary capitalism. In Part II, I address these basic features of modern capitalism, in each case seeking to identify the transformative changes needed.

The market. In Chapter 4, I focus on the need to transform the market to make it work for the environment, reversing the historical pattern.

I examine the urgent need to take seriously neoclassical environmental economics with its emphasis on achieving environmentally honest prices and correcting other market signals, and look at the need to restrain "market imperialism" and excessive commodification.

Growth. In Chapter 5, I focus on what has been called the "growth fetish" and on taking seriously the field of ecological economics, including its critique of endless economic growth and its concern that advanced industrial economies may have already exceeded their optimal or sustainable scale. I explore the dimensions of a "post-growth society," where neither nature nor community is sacrificed to the priority of economic growth. In Chapter 6, I develop the idea that today's economic growth in affluent societies is not materially improving human happiness and satisfaction with life and is a poor way to generate solutions to pressing social needs and problems. I call for alternative measures that directly address these social challenges, which now desperately need attention.

Consumption. In Chapter 7, I focus on materialism and consumerism in today's affluent societies -- what has been called our affluenza -- and suggest ways to encourage both green consumption and living more simply.

The corporation. In Chapter 8, I take up the challenge to the dominance and power of the modern corporation, including that offered by what is often referred to as the antiglobalization movement, and set out a program to transform corporate dynamics.

Capitalism's core. Chapter 9 is more speculative. Is there something beyond both capitalism and socialism? If so, what might be the dimensions of a nonsocialist system beyond today's capitalism?

In Part III, I consider two potential drivers of transformative change:

A new consciousness. In Chapter 10, I focus on the prospect for profound change in social values, culture, and worldviews. I explore how today's dominant values contribute abundantly to social and environmental alienation and what might lead to a new consciousness that gives priority to nonmaterialistic lives and to our relationships with one another and the natural world.

A new politics. In Chapter 11, I address the search for a new and vital democratic politics -- one premised on addressing America's growing political inequality and capable of embracing neglected environmental and social needs and sustaining the difficult actions needed. I examine the vital longer-term goal of strong democracy as well as the immediate steps needed to forge a new environmental politics. An important question in this regard is whether a popular movement that can drive real change is being born.

Taken together, the proposals presented in the chapters that follow would, if implemented, take us beyond capitalism as we know it today.

The question whether we would then have an operating system other than capitalism or a reinvented capitalism is largely definitional. In the end, the answer is probably not important. I myself have no interest in socialism or centralized economic planning or other paradigms of the past. As Robert Dahl has quipped, "Socialist programs for replacing market capitalism [have] fallen into the dustbin of history."[23] The question for the future, on the economic side, is how do we harness economic forces for sustainability and sufficiency?

The creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship of businesses operating in a vibrant private sector are essential to designing and building the future. We will not meet our environmental and social challenges without them. Growth and investment are needed across a wide front: growth in the developing world -- sustainable, people- centered growth; growth in the incomes of those in America who have far too little; growth in human well-being along many dimensions; growth in new solution-oriented industries, products, and processes; growth in meaningful, well- paying jobs, including green-collar ones; growth in natural resource and energy productivity and in investment in the regeneration of natural assets; growth in social and public services and in investment in public infrastructures, to mention a few. These are the things we should be growing, and it makes good sense to harness market forces to such ends. As I discuss in Chapter 5, even in a "post-growth society," many things still need to grow.

I believe Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins, and Hunter Lovins have it right when they propose these strategies for the new economy in their book Natural Capitalism:

** Radically increased resource productivity in order to slow resource depletion at one end of the value chain and to lower pollution at the other end.

** Redesigned industrial systems that mimic biological ones so that even the concept of wastes is progressively eliminated. (This is what the new field of industrial ecology is all about.)

** An economy based on the provision of services rather than the purchase of goods.

** Reversal of worldwide resource deterioration and declines in ecosystem services through major new investments in regenerating natural capital.[24]

The good news is that impressive thinking and some exemplary action have occurred on the issues at hand. Proposals abound, many of them very promising, and new movements for change, often driven by young people, are emerging.[25] These developments offer genuine hope and begin to outline a bridge to the future. The market can be transformed into an instrument for environmental restoration; humanity's ecological footprint can be reduced to what can be sustained environmentally; the incentives that govern corporate behavior can be rewritten; growth can be focused on things that truly need to grow and consumption on having enough, not always more; the rights of future generations and other species can be respected.

America faces huge social problems and needs in addition to its environmental challenges. But priming the economic pump for ever- greater aggregate growth is a poor, sometimes even counterproductive, way to generate solutions on the social front. We need instead to address these problems directly and thoughtfully, with compassion and generosity. A whole world of new and stronger policies is needed -- measures that strengthen our families and our communities and address the breakdown of social connectedness; measures that guarantee good, well-paying jobs and minimize layoffs and job insecurity; measures that introduce more family-friendly policies at work; measures that provide more time for leisure activities; measures that provide for universal health care and alleviate the devastating effects of mental illness; measures that provide everyone with a good education; measures to eliminate poverty in America, sharply improve income distribution, and address growing economic and political inequality; measures that recognize responsibilities to the half of humanity who live in poverty.

If you raise these social issues in the councils of our major environmental organizations, you might be told that "these are not environmental issues." But they are. As I explain in the chapters that follow, they are a big part of the alternative to the destructive path we are on. My hope is that the environmental community will come to embrace these measures, these hallmarks of a caring community and a good society.

In the end, then, despite the large volume of bad news, we can conclude with an affirmation. We can say with Wallace Stevens that "after the final no there comes a yes." Yes, we can save what is left.

Yes, we can repair and make amends. We can reclaim nature and restore ourselves. There is a bridge at the edge of the world. But for many challenges, like the threat of climate change, there is not much time.

A great American once said: "We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked and dejected with a lost opportunity. The 'tide in the affairs of men' does not remain at the flood; it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is deaf to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residue of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words: 'Too late.'" -- Martin Luther King, 4 April 1967, Riverside Church, New York City.

Let us turn, then, to the costs of being too late.


James Gustave Speth is the Dean of the School of Forestry at Yale University.


End Notes

1. The graphs are from W. Steffen et al., Global Change and the Earth System: A Planet under Pressure (Berlin: Springer, 2005), 132-133 (with sources for the graphs cited therein).

2. Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MEA), Ecosystems and Human Well- Being: Synthesis (Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 2005), 31-32.

3. Food and Agriculture Organization, Global Forest Resources Assessment 2005 (Rome: FAO, 2006), 20. This calculation includes all net change in forest area in South America, Central America, Africa, and South and Southeast Asia; the total is about twenty-eight million acres lost per year between 2000 and 2005.

4. MEA, Ecosystems and Human Well-Being: Synthesis, 2; MEA, Ecosystems and Human Well-Being, vol. I: Current State and Trends (Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 2005), 14-15. See also N. C. Duke et al., "A World without Mangroves?" Science 317 (2007): 41. And see Carmen Revenga et al., Pilot Analysis of Global Ecosystems: Freshwater Systems (Washington, D.C.: WRI, 2000), 3, 21-22; World Resources Institute et al., World Resources, 2000-2001 (Washington, D.C.: WRI, 2000), 72, 107; and Lauretta Burke et al., Pilot Analysis of Global Ecosystems: Coastal Ecosystems (Washington, D.C.: WRI, 2001), 19.

5. Food and Agriculture Organization, World Review of Fisheries and Aquaculture (Rome: FAO, 2006), 29; Ransom A. Myers and Boris Worm, "Rapid World-wide Depletion of Predatory Fish Communities," Nature 423 (2003): 280, See also Fred Pearce, "Oceans Raped of Their Former Riches," New Scientist, 2 August 2003, 4.

6. MEA, Ecosystems and Human Well-Being: Synthesis, 2.

7. MEA, Ecosystems and Human Well-Being: Synthesis, 5, 36.

8. Tim Radford, "Scientist Warns of Sixth Great Extinction of Wildlife," Guardian (U.K.), 29 November 2001). See also Nigel C. A. Pitman and Peter M. Jorgensen, "Estimating the Size of the World's Threatened Flora," Science 298 (2002): 989; and F. Stuart Chapin III et al., "Consequences of Changing Biodiversity," Nature 405 (2000): 234.

9. U.N. Environment Programme, Global Environment Outlook 3 (London: Earth-scan, 2002), 64-65. Drylands cover about 40 percent of the earth's land surface, and an estimated 10-20 percent suffer from "severe" degradation. James F. Reynolds et al., "Global Desertification: Building a Science for Dryland Development," Science 316 (2007): 847. See also "Key Facts about Desertification," Reuters/Planet Ark, 6 June 2006, summarizing U.N. estimates.

10. Fred Pearce, "Northern Exposure," New Scientist, 31 May 1997, 25; Martin Enserink, "For Precarious Populations, Pollutants Present New Perils," Science 299 (2003): 1642. See also the data reported in Joe Thornton, Pandora's Poison (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2000), 1-55.

11. U.N. Environment Programme, Global Outlook for Ice and Snow, 4 June 2007. See also See generally William Collins et al., "The Physical Science behind Climate Change," Scientific American, August 2007, 64.

12. "UN Reports Increasing 'Dead Zones' in Oceans," Associated Press, 20 October 2006. See generally Mark Shrope, "The Dead Zones," New Scientist, 9 December 2006, 38; and Laurence Mee, "Reviving Dead Zones," Scientific American, November 2006, 79. On nitrogen pollution, see Charles Driscoll et al., "Nitrogen Pollution," Environment 45, No. 7 (2003): 8.

13. Peter M. Vitousek et al., "Human Appropriation of the Products of Photo-synthesis," Bioscience 36, no. 6 (1986): 368; S. Rojstaczer et al., "Human Appropriation of Photosynthesis Products," Science 294 (2001): 2549. See also Helmut Haberl et at., "Quantifying and Mapping the Human Appropriation of Net Primary Production in Earth's Terrestrial Ecosystems," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2007).

14. U.N. Environment Programme, "At a Glance: The World's Water Crisis," and MEA, Ecosystem and Human Well-Being: Synthesis, 32.

15. MEA, Ecosystem and Human Well-Being: Synthesis, 12.

16. William H. MacLeish, The Day before America: Changing the Nature of a Continent (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1994), 164-168.

17. Quoted in Stephen R. Kellert, Kinship to Mastery.: Biophilia in Human Evolution and Development (Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 1997), 179-180.

18. Quoted in Kellert, Kinship to Mastery, 181-182.

19. Angus Maddison, The World Economy: Millennial Perspective (Paris: OECD, 2001).

20. J. R. McNeill, Something New under the Sun: An Environmental History of the Twentieth-Century World (New York: W. W. Norton, 2000), 4, 16.

21. Among the many books written about the possibility of large-scale economic, environmental, and social breakdown are Jared Diamond, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed (New York: Viking, zoos); Fred Pearce, The Last Generation. How Nature Will Take Her Revenge for Climate Change (London: Transworld, 2006); Martin Rees, Our Final Hour: A Scientist's Warning... (New York: Basic Books, 2003); Richard A. Posner, Catastrophe: Risk and Response (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004); James Lovelock, The Revenge of Gaia: Why the Earth Is Fighting Back -- and How We Can Still Save Humanity. (London: Penguin, 2006); James Martin, The Meaning of the Twenty-first Century (New York: Penguin, 2006); Thomas Homer-Dixon, The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity, and the Renewal of Civilifation (Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 2006); Mayer Hillman, The Suicidal Planet: How to Prevent Global Climate Catastrophe (New York: St. Martin's Press, 2007); James Howard Kunstler, The Long Emergency: Surviving the Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-first Century (New York: Grove Press, 2005); Richard Heinberg, Power Down: Options and Actions for a Post-Carbon World (Gabriola Island, B.C.: New Society, 2004); Ronald Wright, A Short History of Progress (New York: Carroll and Graf, 2004); John Leslie, The End of the World: The Science and Ethics of Human Extinction (London: Routledge, 1996); Colin Mason, The 2030 Spike (London: Earthscan, 2003); Michael T. Klare, Resource Wars: The New Landscape of Global Conflict (New York: Henry Holt, 2001); and Roy Woodbridge, The Next World War: Tribes, Cities, Nations, and Ecological Decline (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004).

22. Rees, Our Final Hour, 8.

23. Robert A. Dahl, On Political Equality (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2006), 105-106.

24. Paul Hawken et al., Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution (Boston: Little, Brown, 1999), 10-11.

25. See Chapters 10-12.