State of the World 2010: Transforming Cultures: From Consumerism to Sustainability

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The premier environmental nonprofit shows the ways to transform our consumer culture into a culture centered on sustainability.
For society to thrive long into the future, we must move beyond our unsustainable consumer culture to one that respects environmental realities. In State of the World 2010, the Worldwatch Institute’s award-winning research team reveals not only how human societies can make this shift but also how people around the world have already started to nurture a new culture of sustainability. Chapters present innovative solutions to global environmental problems, focusing on institutions that are the principal engineers of culture, such as governments, the media, and religious organizations. Written in clear, concise language, with easy-to-read charts and tables, State of the World presents a view of our changing world that we, and our leaders, cannot afford to ignore.

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Editorial Reviews

E. O. Wilson
“The most comprehensive, up-to-date, and accessible summaries . . . on the global environment.”
GlobeScan survey of sustainable experts
“Top-ranked annual books on sustainable development.”
Top-ranked annual books on sustainable development.
Publishers Weekly
In this year's volume, the D.C.-based Worldwatch Institute think-tank considers, in several dozen pieces, how "cultures of consumption" can be transformed into "cultures of sustainability." Many ideas take inspiration from diverse traditions: religions can be called upon to embrace their own deepest values and renounce materialism, while establishing new holidays, rituals and taboos incorporating strategies for sustainability (Earth Day, "Green funerals," new days of fasting, etc.); practices honoring elders as transmitters of ancient wisdom can be spread beyond regions where they still thrive (Africa, India, etc.); thousand-year-old Asian farming methods can be revived. Ideas for restructuring education include replacing the "Three Rs" with the "Seven Rs" ("reduce, reuse, recycle, respect, reflect, repair, and responsibility") and emphasizing "environmental education" in higher learning. The largest-scale changes include shifting societal goals from "maximizing growth of the market economy to maximizing sustainable human well being"; ensuring that the burden of reduced production falls on the wealthiest, not the poorest; and building sustainable cities like Vauban, a 5,000-household German community that uses 100 percent renewable energy. Though many solutions in this visionary volume require a pie-in-the-sky "whole Earth community" legal system prioritizing "the right to life" over "the right to conduct business," it should give leaders and laypeople much to consider.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393337266
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/12/2010
  • Series: State of the World Series
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 1,153,897
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

The Worldwatch Institute is a Washington, DC-based nonprofit research and publishing organization dedicated to fostering the evolution of an environmentally sustainable society.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Foreword Muhammad Yunus xv

Preface Christopher Flavin xvii

State of the World: A Year in Review Lisa Mastny Valentina Agostinelli xxi

The Rise and Fall of Consumer Cultures Erik Assadourian 3

Traditions Old and New 21

Engaging Religions to Shape Worldviews Gary Gardner 23

Ritual and Taboo as Ecological Guardians Gary Gardner 30

Environmentally Sustainable Childbearing Robert Engelman 36

Elders: A Cultural Resource for Promoting Sustainable Development Judi Aubel 41

From Agriculture to Permaculture Albert Bates Toby Hemenway 47

Education's New Assignment: Sustainability 55

Early Childhood Education to Transform Cultures for Sustainability Ingrid Pramling Samuelsson Yoshie Kaga 57

Commercialism in Children's Lives Susan Linn 62

Rethinking School Food: The Power of the Public Plate Kevin Morgan Roberta Sonnino 69

What Is Higher Education for Now? David W. Orr 75

Business and Economy: Management Priorities 83

Adapting Institutions for Life in a Full World Robert Costanza Joshua Farley Ida Kubiszewski 85

Sustainable Work Schedules for All Juliet Schor 91

Changing Business Cultures from Within Ray Anderson Mona Amodeo Jim Hartzfeld 96

Social Entrepreneurs: Innovating Toward Sustainability Johanna Mair Kate Ganly 103

Relocalizing Business Michael H. Shuman 110

Government's Role in Design 117

Editing Out Unsustainable Behavior Michael Maniates 119

Broadening the Understanding of Security Michael Renner 127

Building the Cities of the Future Peter Newman 133

Reinventing Health Care: From Panacea to Hygeia Walter Bortz 138

Earth Jurisprudence: From Colonization to Participation Cormac Cullinan143

Media: Broadcasting Sustainability 149

From Selling Soap to Selling Sustainability: Social Marketing Jonah Sachs Susan Finkelpearl 151

Media Literacy, Citizenship, and Sustainability Robin Andersen Pamela Miller 157

Music: Using Education and Entertainment to Motivate Change Amy Han 164

The Power of Social Movements 171

Reducing Work Time as a Path to Sustainability John de Graaf 173

Inspiring People to See That Less Is More Cecile Andrews Wanda Urbanska 178

Ecovillages and the Transformation of Values Jonathan Dawson 185

Notes 191

Index 231


1 Do High Consumption Levels Improve Human Well-being? Erik Assadourian 9

2 The Essential Role of Cultural Pioneers Erik Assadourian 19

3 A Global Ecological Ethic Patrick Curry 28

4 Deepening Perceptions of Time Alexander Rose 34

5 Dietary Norms That Heal People and the Planet Erik Assadourian Eddie Kasner 49

6 Sustainability and the Human-Nature Relationship Almut Beringer 58

7 Toy Libraries Lucie Ozanne Julie Ozanne 66

8 Transformation of the California Academy of Sciences Gregory C. Farrington 68

9 Unresolved Questions in Environmental Education David C. Orr 77

10 Maximizing the Value of Professional Schools Erik Assadourian 78

11 A New Focus for Scientists: How Cultures Change Paul R. Ehrlich Anne H. Ehrlich 81

12 The Folly of Infinite Growth on a Finite Planet Øystein Dahle 87

13 Upgrading the Corporate Charter Kevin Green Erik Assadourian 102

14 Cradle to Cradle: Adapting Production to Nature's Model William McDonough Michael Braungart 106

15 A Carbon Index for the Financial Market Eduardo Athayde 108

16 The U.N. Marrakech Process on Sustainable Consumption and Production Stefanie Bowles 120

17 Making Social Welfare Programs Sustainable Kevin Green Erik Assadourian 141

18 Principles of Earth Jurisprudence Cormac Cullinan 144

19 The Evolving Role of Environmental Journalism in India Raj Chengappa 162

20 Lights, Camera, Ecological Consciousness Yann Arthus-Bertrand 165

21 Art for Earth's Sake Satish Kumar 166

22 Growing a Degrowth Movement Serge Latouche 181

23 The Slow Food Movement Helens Gallis 182


1 Sustainable World Population at Different Consumption Levels 6

2 How Industries Have Shifted Cultural Norms 14

3 Media Access by Global Income Group, 2006 15

4 Reference Works on Religion and Nature 24

5 Selected Religious Perspectives on Consumption 26

6 Economic Precepts of Selected Religious and Spiritual Traditions 29

7 Childhood Marketing Efforts from Around the World 64

8 Examples and Features of Choice Editing 122

9 Health Care Performance, Selected Countries, 2006 139

10 Selected Successful Product and Social Marketing Campaigns 153

11 Efforts to Promote Media Literacy, Selected Countries 160


1 Humanity's Ecological Footprint, 1961-2005 5

2 Aspirations of First-Year College Students in the United States, 1971-2008 10

3 U.S. Gross Domestic Product versus Genuine Progress Indicator, 1950-2004 88

4 Annual Hours of Work in Selected Countries, 2007 92

5 Culture Change Model 98

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