A sustainable read.
This 25th Anniversary Edition of State of the World focuses on problems and solutions for progress toward a sustainable society. It is a periodical and almanac worth owning. The writing promotes an easy read for sustained digestion of its resources.
Fourteen Chapters by Worldwatch staffers, independent analysts, academics, and intellectual professionals arranged in 2-column newspaper format fill 253 pages, with dozens of boxes, tables, and figures plus hundreds of endnotes. Each chapter contributes to other chapters and to the understanding of sustainable development as a path, not a panacea. Instead of competing with other writings, the State of the World series complements the contemplations of other writers on interdisciplinary economic, social, and environmental topics.
Every chapter is true to its title. There are verbs of solution - seeding, rethinking, building, improving, engaging, mobilizing, investing, and banking. There are nouns of challenge -- sustainable economy, the commons, sustainable world, sustainable lifestyles, and sustainability. There are names to consider -- water, carbon, meat, seafood, biodiversity, global diet, human energy, trade governance, new approaches, and new bottom line.
Hillhouse Professor of Environmental Law at Yale, Dan Esty, introduces the collection, "State of the World 2008 makes it clear that our planet and every individual on it face substantial environmental challenges. But there are signs of hope. As documented throughout this volume, the pace and scale of environmental innovation is extraordinary."
Christopher Flavin, President of Worldwatch, reports the focus is on innovations to achieve a sustainable economy. It is time to replace Adam Smith's outdated economic blueprint with creative experimentation, design for zero waste, and socially responsible investment.
Sustainable development is the new bottom line for genuine progress. Only an ecologically efficient economic system can meet humanity's needs without causing more catastrophic problems. Sustainable lifestyles need to be the vogue, embracing the ethical.
For example, institute a low carbon economy to de-esclate greenhouse gases and global warming (Sky Owe You's). Use social networking for water management and the Internet for wisdom management (commons sense). Start banking on biodiversity to move endangered resources from liabilities to assets (cap and trade).
Mobilize human energy, empower citizens and communities, partner with governments and markets, add an emphasis on self-reliance and you get sustainable development. Build assets and expand freedoms with knowledge as an incentive for human development and you get the shortest path to a sustainable economy.
Sustainability and regenerative investing share a common horizon, the delayed consumption of capital for later returns. We are in a sustainability revolution, with shareowners now activist stakeholders instead of simply bottom feeders.
Both today and tomorrow depend on universal aspirations to inspire innovation, better options, better choices, and genuine resource management skills for true sustainable wealth. Flavin wites, "Urgency and vision are the twin pillars on which humanity's hope now hangs."
Sustainability needs all the institutional ingenuity society can muster and harness to evolve into a broader, better focus for the good of humanity.
State of the World 2008, Innovations for a Sustainable Economy will stay fresh well beyond next year's edition by the Worldwatch Institute.
(Reviewed by the author of another Amazon product, "Inside ISO 14000: The Competitive Advantage of Environmental Management.")