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Bankrupting Nature: Denying Our Planetary Boundaries

By: Anders Wijkman (Author), Johan Rockström (Author)

206 pages, 30 b/w illustrations


Hardback | Nov 2012 | #201494 | ISBN-13: 9780415539692
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £24.99 $31/€28 approx

About this book

This powerful book shows us that we are in deep denial about the magnitude of the global environmental challenges and resource constraints facing the world. Despite growing scientific consensus on major environmental threats as well as resource depletion, societies are largely continuing with business as usual, at best attempting to tinker at the margins of the problems. The authors argue that regardless of whether governments respond to the economic crisis through additional stimulus packages or reduced government spending, environmental and resource constraints will remain. The crisis will be exacerbated by the combination of climate change, ecosystem decline and resource scarcity, in particular crude oil.

The concept of Planetary Boundaries is introduced as a powerful explanation of the limits of the biosphere to sustain continued conventional growth. Bankrupting Nature: Denying Our Planetary Boundaries breaks the long silence on population, criticizing donor countries for not doing enough to support the education of girls and reproductive health services. It is shown that an economy built on the continuous expansion of material consumption is not sustainable. De-growth, however, is no solution either. The growth dilemma can only be addressed through a transformation of the economic system.

A strong plea is made for abandoning GDP growth as the key objective for development. The focus should instead be on a limited number of welfare indicators. The trickle-down concept is seriously questioned, to be replaced by one of sufficiency. Rich countries are called upon to hold back their material growth to leave room for a rising living standard among the poor. Alternative business models are presented, such as moving from products to services or towards a circular economy based on re-use, reconditioning and recylcing – all with the aim of facilitating sustainable development. A Report of the Club of Rome

" [...] this contribution by Wijkman and Rockström is so important. It does not leave us with the problem alone. It takes us to the blueprint for a true-green economy. It is about the way that we can reinvent growth for all, which is affordable, equitable and sustainable."
- Sunita Narain, Director-General, Centre for Science and Environment, New Delhi

"Wijkman and Rockström convincingly show the strength and necessity of an integrated systems perspective of world development, that combines an understanding of how climate change interacts with ecosystem changes across the world, and how social and ecological factors interplay and ultimately determine our ability to provide welfare and wellbeing for a rapidly growing world population. Their book is a timely wake-up call for all politicians, businessmen and citizens of Earth."
- Pavan Sukhdev, Founder-CEO of GIST (Green Indian States Trust) Advisory and Study Leader of TEEB.

"The public discussion on climate change and the environment has lost its momentum. The focus is on other issues, like finance and the economy. Wijkman and Rockström show convincingly why this must change. Wealth generation based on carbon can not continue much longer. We are borrowing resources belonging to future generations, and in the process imperiling their right to livelihood. Today's great denial will be revealed. The combination of solid science, vast experience from politics and public affairs and profound compassion makes this book extraordinarily useful."
- Anders Wejryd, Archbishop of Sweden

"Growth has pushed the physical scale of the economy beyond planetary boundaries and has thereby become uneconomic growth – growth that now increases environmental and social costs faster than production benefits, making us poorer, not richer. This book will help citizens, and maybe even politicians and economists, understand what is happening."
- Herman E. Daly, Professor Emeritus, School of Public Policy, University of Maryland, USA

"Bankrupting Nature summarizes succinctly our human challenges, correctly focusing on re-designing today's global financial casino. Ignored in most textbooks, finance is now a flywheel of social and environmental destruction while economists are still suffering 'theory-induced blindness'. The authors demonstrate conclusively that it is high time for humanity to grasp scientific realities and re-integrate our knowledge systemically – Important, constructive advice for politicians, scientists, NGOs and all who work toward cleaner, greener, equitable, sustainable human futures."
- Hazel Henderson, author, President Ethical Markets Media (USA & Brazil) producers of the Green Transition Scoreboard, Transforming Finance Based on Ethics and Life's Principles, co-creators of the Calvert-Henderson Quality of Life Indicators.



1. The Limited Environmental Capacity
2. Anders Wijkman - On politics in crisis
3. Johan Rockstrom - On science's role and responsibility
4. From Copenhagen to Durban
5. Respect The Planetary Boundaries
6. A Triply Green Revolution
7. The Critical Role of Energy
8. The Forgotten Issue
9. The Weapon of Doubt
10. The Greenhouse Effect
11. What Climate Denies Do Not Want To Know
12. The Arctic: Canary in the mine
13. Is Sweden a World Champion in Climate Policy
14. Getting the Economy Right
15. The Financial Sector: Ignoring The Risks
16. Growth's Dilemma
17. Toward A Circular Economy
18. How much is enough?
19. The Road Ahead Index

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Anders Wijkman is senior advisor at the Stockholm Environment Institute, Sweden, and Vice President, Club of Rome. He has been a Member of the Swedish Parliament and of the European Parliament, as well as Director General of the Swedish Red Cross, Director General of the Swedish Agency for Research Cooperation with Developing Countries and Assistant Secretary General of the UN and Policy Director of the United Nations Development Programme. He is a member of the Swedish Royal Academny of Sciences and the World Academy of Art and Science.

Johan Rockström is a Professor in natural resource management at Stockholm University, and the Executive Director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre. He is an internationally recognized scientist on global sustainability issues, for example leading the recent development of the new Planetary Boundaries framework for human development in the current era of rapid global change. He also co-chairs Future Earth, and international initiative on global sustainability.

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