Invisible Walls: Why We Ignore the Damage We Inflict on the Planet...and Ourselves

Overview

Our wants for food, housing, medicine, transportation, luxuries, and all the other benefits of industrialization have resulted in the exploitation of our natural surroundings. We know our actions affect the physical world we depend on, so why must we be faced with catastrophic problems--overpopulation, the loss of bio-diversity, global warming, and the like--before we act to protect the planet's ecosystem--and then often inadequately?

With astute analysis Peter Seidel explores ...

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Overview

Our wants for food, housing, medicine, transportation, luxuries, and all the other benefits of industrialization have resulted in the exploitation of our natural surroundings. We know our actions affect the physical world we depend on, so why must we be faced with catastrophic problems--overpopulation, the loss of bio-diversity, global warming, and the like--before we act to protect the planet's ecosystem--and then often inadequately?

With astute analysis Peter Seidel explores the complex convergence of psychological, social, economic, and political factors that keep us from acting in our own self-interest. An environmental and human relations visionary, Seidel proposes adoption of a new "world model," a "universal ethic," and long-term societal goals.

Educators and journalists must give us a better understanding of ourselves-creatures evolved to function in a hunter-gatherer society, not in the complex, hazardous world we have created. We must learn to use our minds to control our primitive drives rather than to satisfy them.

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Editorial Reviews

Jeremy Campbell
The human brain today deals very imperfectly with the complex world it has inherited. The brain has built-in biases, blindnesses, deep delusions that may hve made life simpler for early Homo sapiens, but present formidable obstacles to us, whose task is not to adapt to a deteriorating ecology, but to turn that ecology around. Peter Seidel to my knowledge is the first to recognize this dilemma, and he makes his case with admirable verve and clarity.
London Evening Standard
Booknews
Reprint of the 1998 edition with a new (1 p.) preface. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781573922173
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books
  • Publication date: 6/28/1998
  • Pages: 334
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Peter Seidel is an environmental architect/planner with wide-ranging interests who studied with world-renowned Bauhaus architect Mies van der Rohe and city planner Ludwig Hilberseimer. He is the author of Invisible Walls and 2045: A Story of Our Future.
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2006

    Will the walls come tumbling down? I hope so.

    'Invisible Walls' is a plea for humanity to do a better job at taking care of our world--before it decides to 'take care' of us. Seidel is an architect and city planner by training, but clearly a man of wide-ranging interests. This book deserves far more attention than it has received. The points Seidel covers are so important, yet even many environmentalists are unaware of them. I really enjoyed the discussion of the hidden subsidies in gasoline, and the cult of economic growth. I also thought the discussion of the need for broader perspectives and less preaching to the converted was very good. Some great quotes from the book: '. . . if nature is harmed, in time people will suffer.' 'An important task for our thinkers, professionals, and other motivated individuals should be to challenge muddled thinking. The proponents of harmful thoughts should be asked difficult questions and be forced to defend their positions.' 'The papacy and others who oppose artificial birth control should be asked to explain what should be done when human numbers increase to a point where there is no possible way to prevent mass starvation.' On occasion Seidel seems to get confused between what's necessary to stop the downhill slide of environmental degradation, and the goals of traditional liberalism. He is hardly alone in this. (Take the Sierra Club's recent refusal to take a stand on the question of immigration.) For example, Seidel complains about violence on TV but there simply isn't any strong evidence that TV violence leads to real violence. Japan watches a lot of violent TV, but has a society with far less real violence than the U.S. does. Seidel also assumes Social Security is a great program. I disagree. Some of Seidel's suggestions are a bit too vague to be useful, such as suggesting that government must be structured to protect our future. True, but that won't take us very far. In my opinion, what is needed today is more research on how to teach environmentalism to people effectively. It has become abundantly clear in recent years that without solid public support, environmentalism cannot make progress. Religions do scientific research on the best way to convert people to their ideas (I know this as a former missionary). Environmentalists need to do the same, and stop assuming that just being right will win out in the end. Ecological economics is my own area of research. I think Seidel doesn't say enough on the need to reform the economics profession. Conventional economists have gotten away for far too long with absurd and destructive policy recommendations, together with widespread use of misleading statistics such as the GDP.

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