Synopses & Reviews
How serious are the threats to our environment? Here is one measure of the problem: if we continue to do exactly what we are doing, with no growth in the human population or the world economy, the world in the latter part of this century will be unfit to live in. Of course human activities are not holding at current levelsand#151;they are accelerating, dramaticallyand#151;and so, too, is the pace of climate disruption, biotic impoverishment, and toxification. In this book Gus Speth, author of Red Sky at Morning and a widely respected environmentalist, begins with the observation that the environmental community has grown in strength and sophistication, but the environment has continued to decline, to the point that we are now at the edge of catastrophe.
Speth contends that this situation is a severe indictment of the economic and political system we call modern capitalism. Our vital task is now to change the operating instructions for todayand#8217;s destructive world economy before it is too late. The book is about how to do that.
Living simply isnand#8217;t always simple. When Alan Boye first lived in sustainable housing, he was young, idealistic, and not much susceptible to compromiseand#8212;until rattlesnakes, black widow spiders, and loneliness drove him out of the utilities-free yurt heand#8217;d built in New Mexico. Thirty-five years later, he decided to try again. This time, with an idealism tempered by experience and practical considerations, Boye and his wife constructed an off-the-grid, energy-efficient, straw bale house in Vermont.
Sustainable Compromises chronicles these two remarkable attempts to live simply in two disparate American eras. Writing with hard-won authority and humor, Boye takes up the and#8220;how-toand#8221; practicalities of and#8220;building green,and#8221; from finances to nuts and bolts to strains on friends and family. With Walden as a historical and philosophical touchstone and his own experience as a practical guide, he also explores the ethical and environmental concerns that have framed such undertakings from Thoreauand#8217;s day to our own. A firsthand account of the pleasures and pitfalls of living simply, his book is a deeply informed and engaging reflection on what sustainability really meansand#8212;in personal, communal, ethical, and environmental terms.
About the Author
James Gustave Speth, a distinguished leader and founder of environmental institutions over the past four decades, is dean of the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies at Yale University. He was awarded Japanand#8217;s Blue Planet Prize for and#147;a lifetime of creative and visionary leadership in the search for science-based solutions to global environmental problems.and#8221; He lives in New Haven, CT.