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Indra's Net and the Midas Touch
We live today in a global web of interdependence, connected technologically, economically, politically, and socially. As a result of these expanding and deepening interdependencies, it has become impossible fully to control—or foretell—the effects of our actions. The world is rife with unintended consequences. The first law of human ecology—which declares that we can never do merely one thing—is a truth we ignore at our peril. In Indra’s Net and the Midas Touch, Leslie Paul Thiele explores the impact of interdependence and unintended consequences on our pursuit of sustainability.
Unfortunately, good intentions provide no antidote to the law of unintended consequences, and proffered cures often prove worse than the disease. Biofuels developed for the purpose of reducing carbon emissions, for example, have had the unintended effect of cutting off food supplies to the needy and destroying rain forests. We must fundamentally transform our patterns of thinking and behavior. Thiele offers the intellectual and moral foundations for this transformation, drawing from ecology, ethics, technology, economics, politics, psychology, physics, and metaphysics. Awareness of our interconnectedness, he writes, stimulates creativity and community; it is a profound responsibility and a blessing beyond measure.
About the Author
Leslie Paul Thiele is Professor in the Department of Political Science and the Director of Sustainability Studies at the University of Florida. He is the author of Environmentalism for a New Millennium: The Challenge of Coevolution and other books.
—Amy L. Lovecraft, Department of Political Science, University of Alaska Fairbanks
—Jules Pretty, Times Higher Education
—John M. Meyer, Department of Politics, Humboldt State University; coeditor of The Environmental Politics of Sacrifice and author of Political Nature
—Thomas Princen, author of Treading Softly and The Logic of Sufficiency
—David W. Orr, Paul Searls Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies and Politics, Oberlin College; James Marsh Professor, University of Vermont; author of Down to the Wire: Confronting Climate Collapse