Before it was reduced to a pathetic marketing buzzword, sustainable was one of the most powerful words in our language. It described a healthy and intelligent ideal, a mode of living that could continue for thousands of years without causing irreversible wreckage — a way of life that had a future. In an era when many “well educated” people still refuse to acknowledge the reality of evolution, or the human contribution to climate change, almost none have a competent understanding of ecological sustainability.
Mainstream society has taken us on a loony joyride in magical thinking; if we simply call something “sustainable” enough times, then it is! In the blink of the eye, forest mining becomes Sustainable Forestry™ and soil mining becomes Sustainable Agriculture™. In a barrage of oxymorons, business as usual is kept on life support, by any means necessary, for as long as possible, while the planet is mercilessly bludgeoned — the eco-blitzkrieg of Sustainable Development™.
In the last century, specialists have learned a great deal about ecology, environmental history, and “primitive” low impact societies. This body of vital information exists, but it has barely trickled down into mainstream society. Our education system largely remains stuck in the consumer era, training students to study hard, get good jobs, climb the ladder of success, and shop till they drop. The consumer world remains paralyzed by a pandemic of chronic ignorance, a curable pathology. A highly effective remedy is a bubbly elixir called learning. It stimulates long, beautiful, mind-expanding trips.
Humans are the proud owners of legendary big brains, and some have special gifts for thinking outside the box, and asking questions that really matter. Where can they find answers? The neighborhood library or bookstore is unlikely to have a wide variety of books on ecological sustainability, environmental history, and environmental anthropology.
Understanding Sustainability is a collection of 74 short and readable reviews of sustainability-related books, including a number of classics. It’s a gallery of thinkers, scholars, and ideas intended to explore important notions that are routinely swept under the carpet. It’s a book for pilgrims who are critical thinkers hungry for stimulating ideas. It’s a tool catalog for those who feel a calling to learn and help others.
Understanding Sustainability provides no quick and easy cures for the mega-disease, but it boosts our immune system, so we are less likely to be infected by pathological beliefs or daffy nonsense. It exposes us to other possibilities. It affirms our uncomfortable suspicions that our culture is terminally ill, and assures us that we are not crazy, our culture is.
Understanding Sustainability is available as a modestly priced paperback, or as a bargain priced Kindle download. At the Amazon page for this book, the Look Inside feature is enabled, which allows you to examine the table of contents, and view sample sections. Kindle downloads can be read on your computer, tablet, or phone using free software — you don’t need to buy a Kindle gizmo. Amazon Prime members can “borrow” the Kindle version from Amazon, free of charge. The paperback should be available via most independent booksellers. Approved booksellers can buy books at wholesale prices via CreateSpace Direct.