Sustainability or Collapse?
An Integrated History and Future of People on Earth
518 pp., 6 x 9 in, 47 illus.
- Published: November 3, 2006
- Publisher: The MIT Press
- Published: January 21, 2011
- Publisher: The MIT Press
Scholars from a range of disciplines develop an integrated human and environmental history over millennial, centennial, and decadal time scales and make projections for the future.
Human history, as written traditionally, leaves out the important ecological and climate context of historical events. But the capability to integrate the history of human beings with the natural history of the Earth now exists, and we are finding that human-environmental systems are intimately linked in ways we are only beginning to appreciate. In Sustainability or Collapse?, researchers from a range of scholarly disciplines develop an integrated human and environmental history over millennial, centennial, and decadal time scales and make projections for the future. The contributors focus on the human-environment interactions that have shaped historical forces since ancient times and discuss such key methodological issues as data quality. Topics highlighted include the political ecology of the Mayans; the effect of climate on the Roman Empire; the "revolutionary weather" of El Niño from 1788 to 1795; twentieth-century social, economic, and political forces in environmental change; scenarios for the future; and the accuracy of such past forecasts as The Limits to Growth.
A revolution is happening in the borderland between cellular evolution and the evolution of whole organisms and cooperating entities in a community. The authors of the papers in this book are addressing this revolution in a cogent and clear manner. There is much to explain about the cooperative or not-so-cooperative behavior of homo sapiens, and the work in this volume goes a long way toward providing a clear explanation.
Elinor Ostrom, Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, Indiana University
This important book presents the first installment of what promises to develop into a seminal study of human-environment interactions treated as a complex and dynamic system. We can profit greatly from this installment, while eagerly awaiting more to come.
Oran R. Young, Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, University of California
This book fills a gap in the development economics literature by providing a clear and complete statement of the evidence accumulated so far about the effects of development on income distribution and poverty, and by making easily accessible the analytical tools to deal with these issues. It will prove extremely useful to both newcomers to the field of development and specialists. In particular, the extension of the standard analysis to income mobility is methodologically innovative and a significant step forward.
François Bourguignon, Chief Economist and Senior Vice President, Development Economics, The World Bank