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The Sustainability Project


Are we using the Earth’s resources wisely? Is our natural environment in danger? What do we have to do to secure our future on planet Earth?


The Sustainability Project presents twelve books facing up to the challenges posed by globalization offering practical solutions for the 21st century.


 


A gift to sustainability science by German businessman and editor Wiegandt, the "Sustainability Project” is a 12-volume, 3000-page series (of which these four titles were submitted for review) initially published in Germany. The aim is to present current research on complex topics in a manner accessible to general readers while keeping content scientifically sound. The series succeeds, but by no means is it a walk in the park; Wiegandt makes no apologies, asking 12 leading experts to explore critical environmental, economic, and social pressure points that must be addressed in the next 30 years. A survey of some of its constituent titles suggests this set’s breadth: Our Threatened Oceans, Feeding the Planet, The Demise of Diversity,Overcrowded World?, Climate Change, and The New Plagues. The volumes are not numbered, but Jill J?ger’s Our Planet: How Much More Can Earth Take?, with its discussion of planetary "overshoot,” generally introduces the other titles, while Harald M?ller’s take on future world governance in Building a New World Order: Sustainable Policies for the Future provides a fitting conclusion. The argument carried relatively uniformly through all 12 volumes—i.e., confront the dismal truth about conditions, then suggest possible courses of action—lends the set unity, as does the way project authors refer to one another’s work (an obvious method of linking the pieces together, a cumulative index, is lacking). Many of the solutions offered are practical and well known, e.g., label consumer products with metrics that will inform potential buyers of their real ecological cost and use less energy. Other recommendations are sensible but tough, e.g., "dematerialize” American society by a factor of ten within a few decades and make the knowledge presented here part of the educational curriculum from kindergarten through university. But one of M?ller’s recommendations, though wished-for, seems downright contrary to (human) nature—his suggestion to outlaw war. VerdictGlossaries, graphics, and brief reading lists help to make the dauntingly comprehensive "Sustainability Project” palatable for advanced readers. While academic and large public libraries will no doubt want the entire set, smaller libraries could safely buy the relatively inexpensive individual titles on hot topics like climate change and water resources.

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