Barber describes global capitalism as the driver of social inequality that has produced two distinct kinds of consumers: the poor who cannot fulfill t...moreBarber describes global capitalism as the driver of social inequality that has produced two distinct kinds of consumers: the poor who cannot fulfill their basic needs and the rich who have a great deal of disposable income but very few needs. Today’s consumer economy, is driven by and ethos, focuses on creating needs, by promoting what he calls an “ethos of infantilization,” or a “mind-set of ‘induced childishness,’ in which adults pursue adolescent lifestyles, as evidenced by their tastes and spending habits.” This self-defeating capitalism Barber argues is a threat to democracy.(less)
Boulding argues in this text that humanity’s social evolution can be seen as the “evolution of human artifacts.” Social evolution occurs in two parts...moreBoulding argues in this text that humanity’s social evolution can be seen as the “evolution of human artifacts.” Social evolution occurs in two parts – physical and biological. Boulding first studies the physical processes that allow life to develop, then looks at the evolution of human artifacts, such as buildings, language and the ability to learn, as a driving force behind evolution in human society. Boulding also looks at the dynamics of evolution and the limits to evolutionary processes, as well as global disparities in wealth, the growth of science, the exhaustion of material resources and population growth.(less)
Brown’s book, co-authored by individuals with varied backgrounds in economics and public policy, delves into the idea that “A thing is right when it t...moreBrown’s book, co-authored by individuals with varied backgrounds in economics and public policy, delves into the idea that “A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, resilience, and beauty of the commonwealth of life.” The authors propose an equation and use it to ask some basic questions about economics; what is the economy for, how does it work, is it too big, can it be supported by the “commonwealth of all life,” and what is fair? The book also highlights four potential “global” institutions, intended to implement the book’s collective vision of a more ethical future. The authors conclude by suggesting four steps that can be taken to bring about necessary change, modeled on the campaign for the abolition of slavery in England in 1787. Reviews suggest that the discussion of these issues is well-informed and insightful. Dr. John Scull in Ecopsychology wrote that by shifting the goal from economic growth and sustainability to a “right relationship,” the book allows for a cooperation between the principles of the Earth Charter and the world economic, political and ecological systems. Scull calls this a “superb” analysis of the environmental situation. Reviewers agree that the book is well-researched and informative, providing a meaningful concept of this “right relationship” that gives readers a useful measure of their personal and collective decisions. (less)
Capra discusses the function and parts of an ecosystem, and the way the world is dealing with the one currently in place. His argument suggests that w...moreCapra discusses the function and parts of an ecosystem, and the way the world is dealing with the one currently in place. His argument suggests that while the conventional view of nature is mechanical, it should in reality be more “organic,” where the system is a “living” network, shaped by values and purpose. This in turn, Capra argues, shapes the way a system is expected to respond to situations – consequently explaining the difficulty in changing corporate culture today. Capra discusses both the field of systems science and how to seek “organic fixes” to our environmental problems. The Guardian calls this a “cool and rational” analysis of the situation, without the typically hysterical tone of some environmental writers. Reviews suggest that the book is a useful tool in understanding the plight of the environment today, as well as the way in which corporate culture has allowed for these problems to arise and expand. (less)
The Turning Point details current scientific and economic crises, discussing the way in which our previous methods of explaining science and economy a...moreThe Turning Point details current scientific and economic crises, discussing the way in which our previous methods of explaining science and economy are insufficient for our present environmental needs. Capra writes that science must further explore the fields of organic systems theory in order to solve these problems. The University of Cambridge’s Programme for Sustainability Leadership named this one of their “Top 50 Books for Sustainability,” called it “accessible,” writing that The Turning Point draws on diverse disciplines without alienating readers with its style. (less)
Capra’s book, like many of his earlier works, explores the relationship between the environment and society; in this book he focuses on the biological...moreCapra’s book, like many of his earlier works, explores the relationship between the environment and society; in this book he focuses on the biological aspects of this theory. Capra emphasizes the “ecological” as having particular significance to the way the field of science is shifting away from a physics-heavy focus. The book also creates what journalist Scott London calls a “coherent” conceptual framework for understanding the theories of this scientific ‘revolution.’ Capra argues that there must be a combination of two approaches that have historically clashed – the study of patterns and the study of structure. According to Capra, this combination of the two creates a new way of understanding a living system by introducing three basic questions – what is its structure, its pattern of organization, and what is the process of life? Some contention to this work has developed around the idea that different scientific disciplines should not be in competition with one another, which is inherent in Capra’s arguments and theories. (less)
Carse introduces a way of looking at our interactions as being part of two types of what he describes as “games,” finite and infinite. Both are played...moreCarse introduces a way of looking at our interactions as being part of two types of what he describes as “games,” finite and infinite. Both are played by rules set by the participants, but the significance of these rules are different between the two types of games. Carse writes that when a person considers themselves to be “playing a game,” instead of handling a serious situation, they are more likely to keep an open mind and be less encumbered by extraneous details. A “finite” game is one played with the purpose of winning, and therefore ending the game; an “infinite” game is played with the intention of keeping the game going. The New York Times comments that the significance of this theory is difficult to determine since the Greeks came upon a similar concept centuries ago. However, by identifying the idea that the ‘infinite’ games do not need to conform to natural law or absolute principles we believe Carnes provides an important update to the ancient Greek distinction between the difference between “means-end” and “intrinsically worthwhile” activities. (less)
Daly has been called one of the most prominent advocates for a change in economic thinking. In Beyond Growth, Daly writes that in terms of sustainabil...moreDaly has been called one of the most prominent advocates for a change in economic thinking. In Beyond Growth, Daly writes that in terms of sustainability, it is crucial that we begin to see the economy as part of the entire ecosystem, and therefore revoke the ideal of economic growth. Daly writes that our most basic assumptions about economic theory, trade, welfare and population need to be rethought. Beyond Growth presents the idea that there is a larger struggle among conventional economists and development thinkers over the meaning of “sustainable development,” with each group trying to adapt that meaning to its own ends. Reviewers have commented that Daly’s ideas are fresh and overturn conventional ways of thinking about sustainable development – important in a situation where the definition of these ideas is constantly shifting and expanding. The Wall Street Journal referenced World Bank environmental advisor Robert Goodland in calling Daly an ‘unsung hero’ in pushing forward the field of sustainable development. (less)
In this collection of essays presented with what reviewers call a “crystal clear style”, Daly discusses the way economies relate to the environment as...moreIn this collection of essays presented with what reviewers call a “crystal clear style”, Daly discusses the way economies relate to the environment as well as the problems in this relationship. The book covers climate change, peak oil, globalization versus internationalization, poverty reduction and scale leading to uneconomic growth. As a former member of the World Bank, Daly writes with an inside perspective on the economy and ecology debate. The book questions the logic of conventional thought and suggests new solutions to environmental problems. Ecological Economics covers the fields of standard growth economics along with ecological economics, including topics such as limits to growth, full- versus empty-world economics, uneconomic growth, definitions of sustainability, climate change and the philosophical presuppositions of policy. (less)
Daly provides a ‘blueprint’ for a decentralized economy built around small communities and makes specific proposals, including a tax on industrial pol...moreDaly provides a ‘blueprint’ for a decentralized economy built around small communities and makes specific proposals, including a tax on industrial polluters, worker participation in management and ownership, reduced military spending and a more self-sufficient national economy, with a lower volume of imports. Intended mainly for economists, the book essentially deconstructs neoclassical economic theory and creates a more ‘holistic’ model that pulls together the idea of the individual, the community and the natural world. Daly discusses the problems with contemporary economic thought as well as suggested policy changes that would lead to an economic society based on community and ecology. Reviews note that Daly provides a crucial “theoretical edge to the tenets of environmental faith.” (Scott London) The book serves as a strong leader in a new way of thinking about economics that pays special tribute to the community, environment and future generations. (less)
Diamond expounds his theory that a primary causes for why societies from the Viking colonies to present-day Rwanda have fallen apart are ecological ca...moreDiamond expounds his theory that a primary causes for why societies from the Viking colonies to present-day Rwanda have fallen apart are ecological catastrophes combined with society’s tendency to disregard warning signs before such disasters. Diamond draws on present-day examples of towns in decline due to depleted natural resources to make the case that often, economic and environmental concerns go hand-in-hand. Looking into patterns of population growth, overfarming, overgrazing and hunting and other such factors he links them to cycles of deforestation, erosion and starvation wrought by the extinction of plant and animal food sources. Despite today’s technological advances, civilization is still far from solving the problems that wiped out primitive communities. Reviewers generally agree that Collapse raises an extremely important question in asking how we can prevent modern societies from ecological collapse. However, some critics have questioned his case studies, including his discussion of the Easter Islands, as not having enough evidence to support any claims as such. (less)
Frank argues in One Market Under God that the “new economy” that emerged in the 1990’s was not as successful and beneficial as the mainstream might th...moreFrank argues in One Market Under God that the “new economy” that emerged in the 1990’s was not as successful and beneficial as the mainstream might think, and that market populism is a faulty theory, promoted by corporate and partisan interests. Frank pointed out the relationship between banking practices in the 90s with those in the 1930s, and showed the way the income disparity between the very rich and very poor has steadily increased. The New York Times, considers the book enlightening and important in the understanding of corporate culture and how it has changed in the last decades. (less)
The Entropy Law explains the entropy of the physical universe and how this applies to the nature of the economic process, as well as the way in which...moreThe Entropy Law explains the entropy of the physical universe and how this applies to the nature of the economic process, as well as the way in which man is speeding up the entropic depletion of our natural resources. Georgescu-Roegen proposes that we learn to ration the resources we have to ensure the long-term survival of the human race. This is a fascinating and important read for those looking to better understand how capitalism relates to the laws of Thermodynamics.
Goodwin argues in this book that nature can be seen as a set of “complex, interrelated networks of relationships.” Goodwin suggests that before we can...moreGoodwin argues in this book that nature can be seen as a set of “complex, interrelated networks of relationships.” Goodwin suggests that before we can become a more sustainable society, we need to adopt new economics and designs to do so. The book has been called “broad” and “ambitious,” and has been lauded for its “far-reaching consequences.” It’s an excellent guide to a deeper understanding of the relationship between nature and human impact. In a time of global crisis, the book has been called a “primer” for environmental and economic revolution.
Greider probes the question of why the American economic system clashes with society’s publically professed goals of equal rights and a democratic eco...moreGreider probes the question of why the American economic system clashes with society’s publically professed goals of equal rights and a democratic economy. The Soul of Capitalism presents the idea that our capitalist economic system can be restructured to promote what he calls an “authentic democracy,” which serves the values of the majority instead of just the “wealthy few.” Greider argues that though substantial change is necessary and certain to be a long-drawn out process, the few “small successes and localized reform initiatives” to date prove it is not an impossible task. Reviewers concede that though there as an idealistic element to his thinking, the effusive optimism is balanced by his admissions of the challenges we face, as well as “wise recommendations” of inspiration from local projects and small business. (less)