From diets to economic growth, everything these days has to be sustainable. But the word's currency should not obscure its origins: sustainability is an age-old aspiration; a concept deeply rooted in human culture. Though in danger of abuse and overuse today, it can still be recovered from its present inflationary coinage. In clear and thought-provoking terms, Ulrich Grober reassesses the concept of sustainability using a range of fascinating historical instances of its application. He considers the vision of men such as Hans Carl von Carlowitz, credited with having first formulated the three pillars of sustainability: environmental equilibrium, economic security and social justice.
The journey takes in Francis of Assisi's thirteenth-century Canticle of the Sun, as well as Greek philosophers and Enlightenment scholars. Whether in the court of Louis XIV or the silver mines of Saxony, Grober reveals that sustainability is always born of crisis and yet also marks the birth of a new awareness, a realisation that the planet we live on has to be sustained and preserved for future generations. His book offers a historically rich and nuanced introduction to a concept that could not be of more pressing importance for the twenty-first century.
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Ulrich Grober is a publicist, broadcaster and journalist, whose work covers cultural history, future visions, sustainability and ecotourism. Born in West Germany, he studied Philosophy and German and English Literature at the Universities of Frankfurt and Bochum.
His writing on deep ecology and sustainability has appeared in Die Zeit, Resurgence and Greenpeace magazines, amongst others. His best-selling second book, Vom Wandern - Neue Wege zu einer alten Kunst (On Hiking - New Ways to an Ancient Art), was published in 2006.