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Planet Dialectics: Explorations in Environment and Development

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Planet Dialectics

All effects of human action will inevitably be played out within our...

NHBS Price: £12.99 $16/€15 approx

By: Wolfgang Sachs (Author)

224 pages, no illustrations

Zed Books

Paperback | Jul 1999 | Edition: 1 | #95313 | ISBN: 1856497011
Availability: Usually dispatched within 2-3 weeks Details
NHBS Price: £26.99 $33/€30 approx
Hardback | Jul 1999 | Edition: 1 | #95311 | ISBN: 1856497003
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £74.99 $92/€84 approx

About this book

This is a collection of explorations of some of the foremost issues the world faces at the end of the century. It considers the crisis of the Western world's relations with nature and social justice, examining: efficiency – the mantra of our times; speed – the love affair with modernity; globalization – a market inevitability and the juggernaut of history; sustainability – oxymoron as rhetoric; development – the 20th century's great undelivered promise; and limits – a new principle for the coming century.

"Brings together insights from anthropology, history, economics, cultural studies and environmental science to show that the rapidly expanding global market economy is designed to benefit only the few [...] and will inevitably cause disastrous environmental overshoot [...] Planet Dialectics is an impressive book."
– David Mittler in Resurgence

"A remarkable book [...] well written, full of food for thought [...] It should attract a wide readership among students dealing with development, environment, globalization and planning issues."
Progress in Development Studies

"A challenge to development professionals, an encouragement to those involved in grassroots initiatives and an eye opener to students of contemporary development models."
- Nature and Resources

"Sachs's ideas are dynamite. They call into question the whole phase of human activity which we are used to describing as development."
New Internationalist

"Short, pithy and well reasoned."
Bulletin of Science, Technology and Society

"Unique [...] the book is a scream of pain from the receiving end of a process experienced as cultural genocide."
The Guardian (London)


- Part 1 The archaeology of the development idea: the archaeology of the development idea - a guide to the ruins
- the discovery of poverty
- technology as a Trojan Horse
- the economist's blind eye
- from "development" to "security"

Part 2 The shaky ground of sustainability: global ecology and the shadow of development - Truman and what followed
- ambiguous claims for justice
- Earth's finiteness as a management problem
- bargaining for the rest of nature
- efficiency and sufficiency
- the hegemony of globalism; the gospel of global efficiency - more out of less
- resources everywhere
- never enough
- always rational; environment and development - the story of a dangerous liaison - setting the stage for the Brundtland report
- a successful ambivalence
- survival as a new raison d'etat
- global knowledge versus local knowledge
- towards a global ecocracy? sustainable development - the political anatomy of an oxymoron - at the dawn of the security age
- the horns of the dilemma
- the context perspective
- the astronaut's perspective
- the home perspective

Part 3 In the image of the planet: one world - many worlds? one mankind
- one market
- one planet
- space against place
- cosmopolitan localism; the blue planet - on the ambiguity of a modern icon - the construction of the Earth through an image
- invention of the biosphere
- the image and sentimental ecology
- the image and technocratic ecology; globalization and sustainability

Part 4 Ecology and equity in a post-development era: ecology
- justice and the end of development - point of departure
- landslide
- impasse
- the new colour of justice
- an opening; the two meanings of resource productivity - productivity as abundance
- productivity as efficiency
- can limits be productive? the full sense of resource productivity
- the blind spot of efficiency
- efficiency and sufficiency; speed limits - body and machine
- colliding timescales
- double power
- in remembrance of time gained
- counterproductive effects
- selective slowness; the power of limits - an inquiry into new models of wealth - eco-intelligent goods and services
- lower speeds and the plurality of time scales
- shorter distances and the plurality of spaces
- wealth in time rather than wealth in goods
- well-being instead of well-having

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Wolfgang Sachs is a senior research fellow at the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy. He has long been active in the German and Italian green movements and is currently chairman of the board of Greenpeace in Germany. Amongst the various appointments he has held, he has been co-editor of the Society for International Development's journal Development in Rome; Visiting Professor of Science, Technology and Society at Pennsylvania State University in the USA; and a Fellow at the Institute for Cultural Studies in Essen. His first book, For Love of the Automobile: Looking Back into the History of Our Desires was published by University of California Press in 1992. He also edited the immensely influential Development Dictionary: A Guide to Knowledge as Power which was published by Zed Books in the same year and has since been translated into numerous languages. His most recent book in English (coauthored), Greening the North: A Post-Industrial Blueprint for Ecology and Equity, marks an important shift of agenda beyond critique to envisaging concrete alternatives and feasible processes of social transition. Wolfgang Sachs travels widely as a public speaker and university lecturer in Europe, North America and the South.

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