Skip navigation
Hardcover | Out of Print | 518 pp. | 6 x 9 in | 47 illus. | November 2006 | ISBN: 9780262033664
Paperback | $30.00 Short | £24.95 | 518 pp. | 6 x 9 in | 47 illus. | January 2011 | ISBN: 9780262515979
eBook | $21.00 Short | January 2011 | ISBN: 9780262251228
Mouseover for Online Attention Data

Look Inside

Sustainability or Collapse?

An Integrated History and Future of People on Earth


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.

About the Editors

Robert Costanza is Gordon Gund Professor of Ecological Economics and Director of the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics at the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Vermont.

Lisa J. Graumlich is Director of the School of Natural Resources at the University of Arizona.

Will Steffen is Director of the Center for Resource and Environmental Studies and Director of the ANU Institute of Environment at the Australian National University and Chief Scientist at the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme, Stockholm.


“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