The Myth of Progress: Toward a Sustainable Future

The Myth of Progress: Toward a Sustainable Future

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by Tom Wessels
     
 

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In this compelling and cogently argued book, Tom Wessels demonstrates how our current path toward progress, based on continual economic expansion and inefficient use of resources, runs absolutely contrary to three foundational scientific laws that govern all complex natural systems. It is a myth, he contends, that progress depends on a growing economy.

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Overview

In this compelling and cogently argued book, Tom Wessels demonstrates how our current path toward progress, based on continual economic expansion and inefficient use of resources, runs absolutely contrary to three foundational scientific laws that govern all complex natural systems. It is a myth, he contends, that progress depends on a growing economy.

Wessels explains his theory with his three laws of sustainability: (1) the law of limits to growth, (2) the second law of thermodynamics, which exposes the dangers of increased energy consumption, and (3) the law of self-organization, which results in the marvelous diversity of such highly evolved systems as the human body and complex ecosystems. These laws, scientifically proven to sustain life in its myriad forms, have been cast aside since the eighteenth century, first by Western economists, political pragmatists, and governments attracted by the idea of unlimited growth, and more recently by a global economy dominated by large corporations, in which consolidation and oversimplification create large-scale inefficiencies in both material and energy usage.

Wessels makes scientific theory readily accessible by offering examples of how the laws of sustainability function in the complex systems we can observe in the natural world around us. He shows how systems such as forests can be templates for developing sustainable economic practices that will allow true progress. Demonstrating that all environmental problems have their source in a disregard for the laws of sustainability that is based on the myth of progress, he concludes with an impassioned argument for cultural change.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“This is an impassioned, critical, and bold book. Wessels is guided by his overwhelming sense that the laws of sustainability demand respect, understanding, and interpretation, and unless we educate ourselves about their full complexity and truth, we will do irreparable damage to the landscapes we love.”—Northern Woodlands

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781611684162
Publisher:
University Press of New England
Publication date:
04/09/2013
Edition description:
Revised ed.
Pages:
176
Sales rank:
413,053
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.90(d)

What People are saying about this

John Elder
“Tom Wessels critiques the politicians' dream of ‘growth' through an eloquent discussion of the principles that govern biological sustainability. He links science and civic responsibility with a forcefulness that recalls his New England predecessor George Perkins Marsh.”

Meet the Author

TOM WESSELS is a professor of ecology and the founding director of the master’s degree program in conservation biology at Antioch New England Graduate School. He is the author of Reading the Forested Landscape: A Natural History of New England and Forest Forensics: A Field Guide to Reading the Forested Landscape.

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The Myth of Progress: Toward a Sustainable Future 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
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