Books  Sustainable Development  Politics, Policy & Planning  Politics, Policy & Planning: General 

Who Rules the Earth?: How Social Rules Shape Our Planet and Our Lives

  • Brings the latest social science research from across a number of disciplines to bear on some of the most pressing environmental problems of our time
  • Strips away the jargon from the vital concept of 'social rules' to reveal fascinating insights into how our world works and why societies protect or plunder the planet
  • Organized around compelling and relevant case studies

By: Paul F Steinberg(Author)

Oxford University Press USA

Hardback | Apr 2015 | #217395 | ISBN-13: 9780199896615
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £19.99 $26/€22 approx

About this book

Humanity is confronted with an alarming number of environmental problems that seem to grow worse by the day. We hear a steady stream of news reports about climate change, water shortages, and rampant deforestation. We learn of toxic chemicals in our food supply and garbage filling our oceans, and wonder: Why do these problems persist, and what can be done to set society on a more sustainable course?

In Who Rules the Earth?, Paul F. Steinberg, one of America's leading scholars on the politics of environmentalism, explains that there is room for hope, and draws from the latest social science research to explain why. Green consumer choices and changes in personal lifestyles are important, but they are not nearly enough. Lasting social change requires modifying the very rules that guide human behavior and shape the ways we interact with the Earth. We know these rules by familiar names like city ordinances, product design standards, purchasing agreements, public policies, cultural norms, or national constitutions. Though these rules are largely invisible to us, their impact across the world has been dramatic. By changing the rules, the Canadian province of Ontario cut the levels of pesticides in its waterways in half. The city of Copenhagen has adopted new planning codes that will reduce its carbon footprint to zero by 2025. In the United States, a handful of industry mavericks designed new rules to promote greener buildings, and transformed the world's largest industry into a more sustainable enterprise.

Steinberg takes the reader on a series of journeys, from a familiar walk on the beach to a remote village deep in the jungles of Peru, helping the reader to 'see' the social rules that pattern our physical reality and showing why these are the big levers that will ultimately determine the health of our planet. By unveiling the influence of social rules at all levels of society-from private property to government policy, and from the rules governing our oceans to the dynamics of innovation and change within corporations and communities, Who Rules the Earth? will be essential reading for anyone interested in bringing about real environmental change.


I. Searching for Solutions
1 Recycling Is Not Enough
2 Strings Attached
3 Feasible Worlds

II. Who Owns the Earth?
4 A Perilous Journey
5 The Big Trade
6 A Planet of Nations

III. Transformations
7 Scaling Up
8 Scaling Down
9 Keep the Change

IV. Leverage
10 Super Rules
11 Paper, Plastic, or Politics?

Write a review

There are currently no reviews for this product. Be the first to review this product!


Paul Steinberg is the Malcolm Lewis Professor of Sustainability and Society and Professor of Political Science and Environmental Policy at Harvey Mudd College. He has spent the past 20 years studying biodiversity conservation and the human dimensions of global environmental problems. He is the author of three books: Who Rules the Earth? (Oxford University Press), Comparative Environmental Politics (MIT Press), and Environmental Leadership in Developing Countries (MIT Press), which won the Harold and Margaret Sprout Award for the best book in international environmental affairs. He is the director of the Social Rules Project, a multi-media initiative designed to raise public awareness about the importance of changing policies and other binding rules to promote sustainability.

Bestsellers in this subject


NHBS Price: £37.99 $49/€41 approx

A Theory of Secession

NHBS Price: £66.99 $86/€73 approx

Strategic Rivalries in World Politics

NHBS Price: £30.99 $40/€34 approx

When Things Fell Apart

NHBS Price: £19.99 $26/€22 approx

Saudi Arabia in the Balance

NHBS Price: £24.99 $32/€27 approx

VAT: GB 407 4846 44
NHBS Ltd is registered in England and Wales: 1875194