The pursuit of sustainability has generated lifestyle changes for individuals across the globe, widespread initiatives within civil society and business, historic policies for municipal, regional, and national governments, and crucial protocols and agreements by international organizations. Increasingly, sustainability provides a common language and goal for diverse peoples and nations. Yet the meaning of sustainability remains unsettled, and the term frequently serves as a PR strategy – a green veneer for business as usual – rather than a driver of fundamental change.
Leslie Paul Thiele's accessible yet thorough book provides a broad-ranging introduction to the concept and practice of sustainability today. It addresses the history, scope, and contested meanings of sustainability as an ethical ideal, an ascendant ideology, and a common sense approach to living in an ever more crowded world of increasingly scarce resources. Key topics covered include environmental health and ecological resilience, the promise and unintended consequences of technology, political and legal challenges, economic limits and opportunities, and cultural change.
Unlike most other approaches to this crucial topic, Thiele argues that sustainability requires innovation and adaptation as much as the conservation of resources. His book will be a valuable resource for students in a broad range of courses, including environmental studies and related areas, as well as general readers keen to grapple with one of the most pressing issues of our times.
"A valuable resource for students in a broad range of courses, including environmental studies and related areas, as well as general readers keen to grapple with one of the most pressing issues of our times."
- Biotechnology, Agronomy, Society and Environment
"This is the most readable book about sustainability I know. Leslie Paul Thiele has synthesized a vast and complex set of ideas and made them coherent and accessible. Anyone wishing to know what sustainability is all about should read this book."
- Robert Costanza, Portland State University
"Non-sustainability has become the very condition of our existence on this planet, whether it be ecological, economic or social. The search for sustainability is a survival imperative. But sustainability is an amoeba word which can mean what we want it to mean. Thiele's book takes us beyond semantic debates to take up the challenge of adaptation and change. As he puts it, 'sustainability can only be pursued by way of cultural creativity grounded in learning.'"
- Vandana Shiva
Chapter One: Sustainability and Time
Chapter Two: The Geography of Sustainability
Chapter Three: Ecological Resilience and Environmental Health
Chapter Four: Technological Solutions and their Problems
Chapter Five: The Political and Legal Challenge
Chapter Six: Sustaining Economies
Chapter Seven: Culture and Change
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Leslie Paul Thiele is professor of political science and director of sustainability studies at the University of Florida.