The COVID-19 Pandemic has brought forth global anxiety about linkages between the environment and society at a fundamental structural level. Earthly Order: How Natural Laws Define Human Life provides an accessible exposition of the latest foundational knowledge on how natural and social systems science can inform planetary crises. Humanity has either tried to conquer or capitulate to natural order, whereas we should be seeking to understand latent structures and patterns that permeate all systems and develop an "earthly order", that is socially functional and sustainable.
Current debates in politics often present what should constitute a "world order" while scientists have wrestled with what are fundamental conditions of "natural order". Author Saleem H. Ali provides a readable synthesis of these debates with practical guidance for the public with a host of current examples around environmental decision-making by consumers, the government and industry.
Introduction: The Limited Logic of Order?
Part I: NATURAL ORDER
Chapter 1 - Seduction of Structure in Nature
Phases and Crystalline Order
Constancy and Hybrid Natural Order
Chapter 2 - The Elements of Earthly Order
The New Carbonic Order?
Chapter 3 - Circularity, Cyclicality and Sustainability
Orders of Gaia and Medea
Bounded Natural Order
PART 2: ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL ORDER
Chapter 4 - The Orders of Economic Harmony
Urbanism and Resilience in Socioeconomic Order
Scales and Speeds of Economic Order
Currencies of Sustainable Economic Order
Chapter 5 - Elusive Orders of Economic Equilibrium
Orders of Price and Quantity
Consumer Ecology and Varieties of Equilibria
Towards and Optimal Economic Order for the Planet
Chapter 6 - Mindful Errors and Social Order
Lonely Crowds and the Greening of the Shared Economy
Environmental Risk, Uncertainty, and Precautionary Disorder
Gaining from Disorder: Immunity, Intelligence and Religion
The Conspiratorial Conundrum of Cause
Chapter 7 - Sex, Population and Sustainability
From Tragedy to Comedy of the Commons
The Age Beyond Ageing
Gender, Culture and Reconciling Anomalies
PART 3: POLITICAL ORDER
Chapter 8 - Empires and Edens
The Dragon and the Wild Goose
Great Powers Concerts and Radical Salvations
Chapter 9 - Borders and Functional Political Order
The Ambivalence of Ecological Borders
The Order of Environmental Peacebuilding
Identity, Borders and Order
Chapter 10 - From International to Global Order in the "Anthropocene"
Confederations of Peaceful Ecological Order
Networks and the Realignment of Global Order in the Anthropocene
Closing the Loop on Global Order
CONCLUSION: Reconciling Orders
Coda: Chromatic Order
Saleem H. Ali was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts but grew up in Lahore, Pakistan until his college years, receiving his Bachelor's degree in Chemistry from Tufts University, and his Master's and PhD degrees in environmental policy and planning at Yale and MIT, respectively. He currently holds the Blue and Gold Distinguished Professorship in Geography and Spatial Sciences at the University of Delaware(USA) and is an Honorary Professor at the University of Queensland (Australia). Dr. Ali's laurels include being a National Geographic Explorer (having travelled for research to over 150 countries); being chosen as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and serving on the seven-member science panel of the Global Environment Facility (the world's largest multilateral trust fund for the environment held in trusteeship by the World Bank). His earlier books include Treasures of the Earth: Need, Greed, and a Sustainable Future which was hailed by Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus as providing "welcome linkage between environmental behavior and poverty alleviation". Professor Ali was profiled in Forbes as "The Alchemist" and Bookseller called his earlier work "a pioneering exploration of human wants and needs and the natural resources we consume". He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and the Royal Geographical Society in the United Kingdom and also serves on the boards of Adventure Scientists and Mediators Beyond Borders International. Along with his wife Maria and sons Shahmir and Shahroze, the family are citizens of Australia, Pakistan and the United States.
"In making his arguments Ali draws from the work of Nobel prize-winning scientists and his own deep knowledge of philosophy and history. Anyone anxious about the future of the planet will benefit from Ali's carefully considered, well-argued insights."
– R. C. Robinson, Georgia State University
"Saleem Ali's new book allows global societies to rediscover nature through an analysis of planetary order. The narrative clarifies visions of the future while practically anchored in the present. By building bridges across disciplines this book provides a pragmatic way of fostering a more positive relationship between humans and the earth."
– Izabella Teixeira, Former Environment Minister of Brazil, UNEP "Champion of the Earth" Awardee
"With Earthly Order, Saleem Ali presents a grand, sprawling exploration of the scientific realm in search of simplicity in nature and order in our human planet. What he uncovers is revealing and provocative in equal measure – a fresh lens to look at the social, economic, political and environmental challenges of our unsustainable age"
– Professor Iain Stewart, Host of BBC Series, How Earth Made Us, UNESCO Chair in Geoscience and Society, Royal Scientific Society of Jordan
"Saleem Ali has at one and the same time assembled a transdisciplinary tour de force on sustainability from the natural and social sciences while also making these insights accessible to broad publics. The systems approach he offers can be a foundation for sustainability curricula in professional schools and a much-needed framework for global business, policy and civic leaders no matter where they hail from on our previous planet."
– Professor Sanjeev Khagram, Director General and Dean, Thunderbird School of Global Management, Arizona State University
"In an ambitious, yet eminently readable book, Saleem Ali uses a search for order as an organizing principle across all the scales of the world, from submicroscopic to the way human societies interact. I learned something on nearly every page; so will you, as the author draws us into an affirmative view of a changing, interrelated, and wondrous world."
– Roald Hoffmann, Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry and Poet, Frank H. T. Rhodes Professor of Humane Letters, Emeritus, Cornell University
"School is all about teaching students about the basic order of life. But the education of order is not exactly an orderly education. Broken up across multiple subjects – mathematics, chemistry, physics, economics – students never get a holistic picture of how natural laws string together to create the basic geometry of the human experience. Earthly Order fixes that. Saleem Ali's new book builds a bridge across the sciences using the scaffolding of natural laws, delivering the reader a unique and unifying perspective of life on Earth."
– Lucas Joppa, Chief Environmental Officer, Microsoft Corporation
"Saleem Ali's new book is a tour de force examining the conceptual meaning of 'order'. Conversations about changes in economic systems, social relations, and human identity are hampered by our inadequate and imprecise thinking about "order": what function it serves, how it breaks down, and what new possibilities it can reveal. Ali's book equips us with novel metaphors and analyses to improve our understanding, debates, and collaborations. Anyone working on complex social and environmental challenges should read this."
– Dr. Zia Khan, Senior Vice President of Innovation, The Rockefeller Foundation
"Earthly Order is a tour de force exploration of how natural laws operate at all levels of the great hierarchy of human existents, from the quantum chemistry of our bodies to sustainability cycles of our planet to economic, social and political structures of our societies. Three principles prevail: commonality of order in a general systems theory sense; expanding multiplicity of variables that generate increasing complexity; and emergence of novel regularities, qualitatively distinct at various levels. This is a book for our times."
– Robert Lawrence Kuhn, Host of media series Closer to Truth
"Earthly Order educates, illuminates and challenges, making connections across great swaths of the domains of knowledge, with climate change as the overarching motivation for this intellectual exploration. I found myself pausing after many paragraphs to consider what Ali had written, often re-reading, as much to experience the pleasure of the prose a second time as to clarify something. To capture Ali's purpose with this book, and to quote from one of my favorite paragraphs, here is the last sentence of his Introduction: 'The goal here is to stretch that specter of inquiry across the full spectrum of human learning about ordered systems so as to make the quest for sustainability more meaningful in both literal and figurative ways.' And, that's just what he does, with elegance and great insight."
– Jared Cohon, President Emeritus Carnegie Mellon University, Member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering
"We are privileged to enjoy Saleem's wisdom in the UNEP International Resource Panel. As he states "The ultimate aim (of this book) is contemporary global problem-solving by understanding basic tenets of functional order in natural, social, and political systems. " This statement describes well the very ambition of this essential work. Nothing less than the basics of our existence in the quest leading to sustainability. How could one resist to read it and learn?"
– Janez Potocnik, European Commissioner for Environment (2010 -2014); European Commissioner for Science (2004-2010)
"In making his arguments Ali draws from the work of Nobel prize winning scientists and his own deep knowledge of philosophy and history. Anyone anxious about the future of the planet will benefit from Ali's carefully considered, well-argued insights."