Episode Information

From Crisis to Sustainability
Where We Live - with John Dankosky
Aired:
05/12/2008
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In this episode:

How serious are the threats to our environment?

 

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Episode Audio

52:00 minutes (24.96 MB)
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The Bridge at the End of the World by James Gustave Speth: Photo by Derek LartaudThe Bridge at the End of the World by James Gustave Speth: Photo by Derek Lartaud
The opening chapters of the new book by Gus Speth are a haunting echo of
coming environmental catastrophe. The Bridge at the Edge of the World
lays out a pretty compelling case that something must be done now to correct
long-term trends that threaten the planet.

Charts in the book show the unavoidable facts of massive jumps in consumption,
habitat loss, and temperature variation over just the last few decades. And
statements like this bring the point home:

“If we continue to do exactly what we are doing, with no growth in the human
population or the world economy, the world in the latter part of this century
will be unfit to live in.”

But for many, this case has already been made. We saw"an inconvenient
truth" already! So, what now?

The subtitle hints at the answer: "Capitalism, the Environment and
Crossing from Crisis To sustainability." In it, he takes on modern
capitalism, and its need for continued, unchecked growth, as a cause of
environmental problems but also as a key to change. And how our culture of
materialism has fueled our current environmental crisis.

 

Join the conversation! Add your suggestions, questions or comments below.


 
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why growth is the problem

Thanks for featuring Gus on WWL. His standing among the environmental science, climate science, economics, and social though communities would be hard to overstate and I am happy to see him getting mainstream exposure.

Getting past "growth" as a societal badge of honor means starting the discussion. The only thing that grows forever is a tumor. Economies can not and do not grow without disruption. The trick is to show some faith in our intelligence and resourcefulness as a species and beat the system before it beats us.

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The thrust of the criticism regarding the current inability of our society to deal with environmental needs is right on, but I think the burden is too heavy on capitalism. There are many other economic systems and governmental systems that are causing equally devastating damage to the ecosystem: to wit, communism and dictatorships. None are immune from criticism.

My question: given the tremendous diversity of the World in terms of its societal organizations and the rightful quest for better living conditions for much of the world’s population, how is it possible to surmount these barriers so that our environment does not fall into a condition of irreversible decline?

Thank you // Richard, Southbury, CT

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Hello,
Thank you for covering such timely and important issues.
As a consumer who would like to support “green economy” I find that there are lots of mixed messages.
Does investing in Green porfolios mean less profit? Does less growth mean less profit? Won’t there be lots of growth in certain industries/business: like hybrid cars, alternative fuels, solar heating, etc….and won’t that continue the trend of consuming those goods, which are “better” but still goods.
I read as many green magazines: GOOD, Edible CT, organic gardening and even Oprah is getting in on better choices…but I still feel like the changes for the consumer are not to buy less, just to buy differently.

What will it take to ultimately consume less? We have been taught to do this as part of being “robust, active “ and as part of living the American dream.

Chris Miller