The Sustainability Mirage
Illusion and Reality in the Coming War on Climate Change
By John Foster
Routledge – 2008 – 192 pages
Routledge – 2008 – 192 pages
?This thoughtful and original study throws important critical light on the dominant orthodoxies about sustainable development, and suggests a radically new direction. Foster argues compellingly that present approaches embody floating standards and bad faith, trapping societies into inaction. I suspect this is a seminal piece of work.? Professor Robin Grove-White, former Chair of Greenpeace UK ?We all have a nagging concern that what international corporations and governments term 'sustainable' is not sustainable at all. John Foster?s clear and beautifully written text shows the deep flaws in current approaches and proposes a reassessment of what true sustainability really implies.? Chris Goodall, Chair of Dynmark International and author of How to Live a Low-Carbon Life ?This comprehensive and yet very readable book will go a long way towards puncturing some of the glib environmentalisms of our moment, and perhaps towards helping us imagine deeper and more thoroughgoing alternatives that might actually work!? Bill McKibben, author of Deep Economy and The End of Nature 'Brilliantly and ironically written, this book shades a bright light on most foggy areas around the concept of sustainability. Those fastidious obscure points do not fit properly in the reassuring technical solutions to Climate Change. Foster puts a name on those shapeless shadows that inevitably induce the sensation of something being wrong.' Italian Insider Sustainable development thinking got environmental issues onto the agenda but it may now be stopping us from taking serious action on climate change and other crucial planetary issues. Sustainable development?s attempted deal between present and future will always collapse under the pressure of ?now? because the needs of the present always win out. Inevitably, this means movable targets and action that will always fall short of what we need. Ultimately, sustainable development is the pursuit of a mirage, the politics of never getting there. To escape the illusion, we must break through to a new way of understanding sustainability by focusing on the deep needs of the present, not slippery obligations to the future. Rising to the carbon challenge now, not trying to micro-manage the longer term. Looking to the science for orders of magnitude and direction, not a gameplan. Harnessing the short-term dynamics of capitalism to the cause of learning our way forward. This book outlines an alternative to the mainstream and offers the kind of bold new thinking on energy usage, governance, education and the role of enterprise that we need to win the coming war on climate change.
'A radical and challenging work.' Network Review
Preface: Sustainability, Mirage and Reality * Part I: What�s Wrong with Sustainable Development? * The Sustainability Horizon * Pursuing the Mirage * Mirage Politics * Part II: Deep Sustainability * Shifting the Focus * �Life Goes On� * Part III: Greening Our Luck * Making the Break: The Carbon Framework * Widening Our Options * The Politics of Reality * Index
John Foster is a freelance writer and teacher, and honorary Research Fellow in Philosophy at Lancaster University, UK.