Plato’s Revenge: Politics in the Age of Ecology


“If Herman Daly is the economist for sustainable development, Amory Lovins the physicist and Al Gore the politician, William Ophuls must be the philosopher. Ophuls’ first book on the subject, Ecology and the Politics of Scarcity (1997), placed him among the few scholars of the time (Rifkin and Daly in the United States; Leiss and Paehlke in Canada) who had managed to bridge the gulf between science and politics to insist that modern values and the democratic politics associated with them were on a collision course with ecology.”Click through for our full review…

The Wealth of Nature

The title of John Michael Greer’s The Wealth of Nature: Economics as if Survival Mattered contains references to two very different economic works: Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations and E.F. Schumacher’s Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered. He calls on both books in his attempt to demonstrate that contemporary economics has gone astray.

Development Without Destruction

In his engaging and practical book Development Without Destruction: The UN and Global Resource Management, Nico Schrijver shows how the UN developed into a hub for natural resource management by default, not by design. As this comprehensive contribution to the UN Intellectual History Project series recounts, the Charter of the United Nations does not discuss natural resources and does not enshrine environmental conservation. The apparent ‘default’ status of UN resource management efforts has provided critics of the UN with plenty of ammunition over the years. In this makeshift context, co-ordination failures and public relations slip-ups have occasionally undermined the environmental efforts of an alphabet soup of UN specialized agencies and programs.
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The Story of Stuff


Leonard, a self-described “systems thinker,” aims to debunk the entrenched “growth at all costs” model. She does so by discussing the materials economy and its underlying paradigm of economic growth, but opts to not lay the blame with individuals or inspire feelings of guilt. … Readers, however, should not be misled by her bubbly prose: Leonard gets to the heart of serious subjects and exposes the inter-connectedness of today’s consumption, environmental, social and economic crises.
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Social Change 2.0

Social Change 2.0
David Gershon
While a few readers may find David Gershon’s approach overly self-promoting – suggested resources all take you to his website’s order page – his experience­ in creating social transformation is authoritative­, and this book is a successful­ marriage of vision and pragmatism. Gershon balances principles and practices­, and highlights his ideas with stories of people­ in action. Social Change 2.0 emphasizes­ you, the reader, as the primary agent of change in the world. Each chapter ends with a useful set of questions that form a “practitioner’s guide” to further thinking.

Beyond the Bubble: Imagining a New Canadian Economy

Beyond the Bubble: Imagining a New Canadian Economy
James Laxer, Toronto: Between the Lines Press, 2009, 264 pages.

“The neo-liberal system has fallen into pieces and cannot be put together again. Nor should humanity attempt it. It is time to move on to a better future.” These are the last words in James Laxer’s Beyond the Bubble. The rest of the book fills in the details of what amounts to a very interesting read for economists and non-economists alike.

This is a book of many stories. Nominally, it’s about a bubble that popped over the housing market. Laxer could have chosen other bubbles – the dot-com crash, the Great Depression – but they may have offered less rhetorical value today.
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Building Social Business

Building Social Business: The New Kind of Capitalism that Serves Humanity’s Most Pressing Needs
Muhammad Yunus, New York: Public Affairs, 2010, 226 pages.

As one of the recipients of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize, Muhammad Yunus has often spoken out on the failure of the capitalist system to perform its duty to provide for the world’s poorest people.

In Building Social Business, Yunus expands on his self-proclaimed world-changing mechanism for social change that he introduced in an earlier book, Creating a World Without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism. He fleshes out the idea more fully in this work by not only defining social business clearly and providing examples of how it has been successful already, but … [Click here to read more!]

Deep Economy

For McKibben, there are three fundamental challenges to Western society’s fixation on growth, which taken together deal an absolute knockout blow to Adam Smith’s claim to fame. First, there is the political argument concerning the glaring economic inequalities that are inherent in capitalism’s dark side.

La Via Campesina: Globalization and the Power of Peasants

In the wake of plummeting commodity prices in the 1980s, resulting from agricultural trade liberalization, peasants and small farmers reached across borders to find allies in their fight to defend their right to grow food. La Vi?a Campesina, a coalition of some 100 farmer groups from over 50 countries, emerged in 1993 as a result of this outreach.

Dry Spring: The Coming Water Crisis of North America

Wood identifies two possible strategies to address our uncertain freshwater future. We can build more dams, reservoirs, river diversions, aqueducts, canals, pipelines, wells, recycling plants and desalination facilities. Alternately, “we can choose how we use what we have now.” The latter, an approach Wood advocates, involves changing the way we manage our watersheds; using ecologically sound appliances and irrigation techniques; and changing our markets, our bookkeeping, and the laws that undervalue this life- giving resource.

Right Relationship: Building a Whole Earth Economy

Perhaps it is the economic crisis. Maybe it is climate change, soaring extinction rates or the ever-widening gap between the rich and poor. Or then again, it could simply be the nagging sense among more and more people that the human project has somehow gone awry. Whatever the case, in recent years, we have witnessed an explosion of popular interest in books that question, even excoriate, the most fundamental assumptions of our current, growth-at-all-costs economic system.

Managing Without Growth: Slower by Design, Not Disaster

In his newest book, Managing Without Growth, York University professor Peter Victor makes a convincing case that rich nations, such as Canada, can abandon economic growth as a national goal without compromising their citizens’ happiness. He suggests that helping developing nations approach the Western world’s standard of living would provide a better and safer future.