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What We’re Reading: October 2011

by Joshua Nelson on 3rd October 2011

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This post is part of an on-going series highlighting what our members are currently reading in the Post Growth and sustainability realms.

The God Species by Mark Lynas

The planet has nine boundaries that should not be crossed, argues Mark Lynas. Some we’re familiar with, like the climate boundary. Others we more or less ignore, such as the nitrogen cycle or ocean acidification. Since humans are in charge of the planet now, it is our God-like responsibility to manage our behaviour to stay within the range of safety. It’s a well researched popularisation of planetary boundaries, although there is much for environmentalists to get upset about along the way. Unfortunately, Lynas is adamant that biological boundaries don’t need to be economic boundaries, and dedicates the final chapter to dismissing the concept of limits to growth. Anyone who’s read anything on post-growth economics will spot the flaws a mile away.  – Jeremy Williams

A Chorus of Stones: The Private Life of War by Susan Griffin

One of the most beautiful and painful books I have encountered.  It covers so much historical, social, personal, ethical, and geographical ground, it is impossible to summarize.  Griffin does a masterful job of refusing to arbitrarily draw lines around phenomena, choosing instead to highlight the interconnectedness among so many seemingly disparate realities.  The insights in this book are relavent for anyone interested in human change processes – particularly systemic change.  It highlights the complex ways we all uphold the very systems we may oppose, through such ingrained practices as secrecy and denial, among others.  And it pushes through the obvious questions about change in order to bring the reader to some that are more difficult to face. – Janet Newbury

Consulting the Genius of the Place: An Ecological Approach to a New Agriculture by Wes Jackson

The exponential growth of everything – population, energy use, carbon emissions and soil loss – will increasingly challenge our ability to feed ourselves into the future. Jackson presents empirical evidence that our natural systems may be far more efficient at capturing and using water, nutrients and energy than our current agricultural systems. Even if they were not, our agricultural systems have only achieved massive leaps in production due to the unsustainable reliance on fossil fuels, fossil soil carbon and fossil water since the Green Revolution.  Jackson promotes the use of perennial polycultures in agriculture as a way of mimicking the functions of our natural systems. It sometimes appears as if he is promoting an engineering fix to the symptoms of an international growth addiction. Nevertheless, Jackson is well aware of the causes and consequences of ‘exponential everything’ on agriculture, and provides pragmatic suggestions for how we can buy ourselves some time. – Jane Addison

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avatar Joshua's life goal is leave this world better than when he came in – similar to the campsite rule. He started writing about sustainable economics with his blog Steady State Revolution, acted as Washington Chapter Director for the Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy (CASSE) for a few years and is a co-founder of the Post Growth Institute. An avid reader, cyclist and hobbyist mead maker, Joshua lives Seattle, WA USA with his wife and son.

Joshua has written 22 posts on Post Growth Institute. Contact Joshua

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