Suggested Reading

Suggested Reading 2017-05-30T01:01:11+00:00

There are many high quality books on population and environmental issues. The following help explain viewpoints at the heart of Population Institute Canada’s work.

Ecological Ethics: An Introduction

Patrick Curry

This book is a major new introduction to the field of ecological ethics. Taking issue with the common assumption that existing human ethics can be ‘extended’ to meet the demands of the ongoing ecological crisis, Patrick Curry shows that a new and truly ecological ethic is both possible and urgently needed. With this distinctive proposition in mind, Curry introduces and discusses all the major concepts needed to understand the full range of ecological ethics.

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 Limits to Growth; The 30-Year Update

Donella H. Meadows, Jorgen Randers, Dennis Meadows

Published in 2004, this is the third Limits book, which updates and confirms the conclusions of the 1972 and 1992 ones. If our species continues its “business as usual” pattern, collapse in various forms will result from our having pushed beyond the limits of sustainability.

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Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change

William R. Catton

First published in 1980, “Overshoot” is really all one needs in analysing humanity’s current predicament. We are likened to a few pond-dwelling detritivores presented with last fall’s bonanza of fallen leaves. As the pond fills with detritivores, the leaves’ nutrients are consumed at an increasing rate and soon a collapse of the now-starving population ensues.

Terms such as “Phantom Carrying Capacity”, “Ghost Acreage” and “Exuberance” are introduced and discussed. The book ends on a profoundly disquieting note with “Human self-restraint, practiced both individually and especially collectively, is our indispensable hope.”

Every person interested in humanity’s future should be familiar with this landmark book which is readable and clear.

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Party’s over : oil, war and the fate of industrial societies

Richard Heinberg

The world is about to run out of cheap oil and change dramatically. Within the next few years, global production will peak. Thereafter, even if industrial societies begin to switch to alternative energy sources, they will have less net energy each year to do all the work essential to the survival of complex societies. We are entering a new era, as different from the industrial era as the latter was from medieval times.

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Powerdown: Options and Actions for a Post-Carbon World

Richard Heinberg

A discussion on peak oil and its attendant implications for the global economy. Due to industrialized societies dependence on cheap, readily available oil, Heinberg argues the post-peak period of global history will likely be characterized by socio-economic turmoil, disruption of trade, declining living standards, and warfare.

He outlines possible responses to the economic challenges of declining oil production:

  • Last One Standing: Global competition for remaining resources;
  • Powerdown: Global cooperation in reducing energy usage, conservation, resource management, and overpopulation;
  • Denial: Waiting, and hoping that some unforeseen element will solve the problem;
  • Building Lifeboats: Preparing local areas to be sustainable in the event that the global economic project collapses.

Heinberg expands on these describing the current political and economic environment in terms of these elements.

(source: Wikipedia)

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The Collapse of Complex Societies

Joseph Tainter

Political disintegration is a persistent feature of world history. The Collapse of Complex Societies, though written by an archaeologist, will therefore strike a chord throughout the social sciences. Any explanation of societal collapse carries lessons not just for the study of ancient societies, but for the members of all such societies in both the present and future.