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Sustainability: A History by Jeremy L.…
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Sustainability: A History

by Jeremy L. Caradonna

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The word is nearly ubiquitous: at the grocery store we shop for "sustainable foods" that were produced from "sustainable agriculture"; groups ranging from small advocacy organizations to city and state governments to the United Nations tout "sustainable development" as a strategy for local and global stability; and woe betide the city-dweller who doesn't aim for a "sustainable lifestyle." Seeming to have come out of nowhere to dominate the discussion-from permaculture to renewable energy to the local food movement-the ideas that underlie and define sustainability can be traced back several centuries.

In this illuminating and fascinating primer, Jeremy L. Caradonna does just that, approaching sustainability from a historical perspective and revealing the conditions that gave it shape. Locating the underpinnings of the movement as far back as the 1660s, Caradonna considers the origins of sustainability across many fields throughout Europe and North America. Taking us from the emergence of thoughts guiding sustainable yield forestry in the late 17th and 18th centuries, through the challenges of the Industrial Revolution, the birth of the environmental movement, and the emergence of a concrete effort to promote a balanced approach to development in the latter half of the 20th century, he shows that while sustainability draws upon ideas of social justice, ecological economics, and environmental conservation, it is more than the sum of its parts and blends these ideas together into a dynamic philosophy.

Caradonna's book broadens our understanding of what "sustainability" means, revealing how it progressed from a relatively marginal concept to an ideal that shapes everything from individual lifestyles, government and corporate strategies, and even national and international policy. For anyone seeking understand the history of those striving to make the world a better place to live, here's a place to start.

**
  GalenWiley | Apr 13, 2015 |
Perpetual growth isn’t possible

Sustainability: A History by Jeremy L. Caradonna (Oxford University Press, $27.95).

First, Canadian history professor Jeremy L. Caradonna points out that the term “sustainability” isn’t limited to environmental issues, though given the crisis in climate change, extinction of species and loss of habitat, it’s easy to see how the term has taken on that meaning in recent years.

But the history of sustainability includes thinking—and attempts to live—sustainably in terms of economics (continued double-digit growth isn’t just illogical; it’s impossible) and politics as well as in the recent changes to our way of thinking. “Reduce, reuse, recycle” is only the latest iteration of a past efforts to lead less consumption-oriented (and therefore ultimately destructive) lives.

In Sustainability: A History, Caradonna points out that this concept arose most recently more than 50 years ago, in the work of people like Rachel Carson, Amory Lovins and Aurelio Peccia. It’s just taking us an awful long time to make headway.

Reviewed on Lit/Rant: www.litrant.tumblr.com ( )
  KelMunger | Nov 20, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0199372403, Hardcover)

The word is nearly ubiquitous: at the grocery store we shop for "sustainable foods" that were produced from "sustainable agriculture"; groups ranging from small advocacy organizations to city and state governments to the United Nations tout "sustainable development" as a strategy for local and global stability; and woe betide the city-dweller who doesn't aim for a "sustainable lifestyle." Seeming to have come out of nowhere to dominate the discussion-from permaculture to renewable energy to the local food movement-the ideas that underlie and define sustainability can be traced back several centuries.

In this illuminating and fascinating primer, Jeremy L. Caradonna does just that, approaching sustainability from a historical perspective and revealing the conditions that gave it shape. Locating the underpinnings of the movement as far back as the 1660s, Caradonna considers the origins of sustainability across many fields throughout Europe and North America. Taking us from the emergence of thoughts guiding sustainable yield forestry in the late 17th and 18th centuries, through the challenges of the Industrial Revolution, the birth of the environmental movement, and the emergence of a concrete effort to promote a balanced approach to development in the latter half of the 20th century, he shows that while sustainability draws upon ideas of social justice, ecological economics, and environmental conservation, it is more than the sum of its parts and blends these ideas together into a dynamic philosophy.

Caradonna's book broadens our understanding of what "sustainability" means, revealing how it progressed from a relatively marginal concept to an ideal that shapes everything from individual lifestyles, government and corporate strategies, and even national and international policy. For anyone seeking understand the history of those striving to make the world a better place to live, here's a place to start.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:51 -0400)

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