Planet Dialectics

Explorations in Environment and Development

Wolfgang Sachs

Planet Dialectics

Wolfgang Sachs

Distributed for Zed Books

With a Foreword by Susan George

272 pages | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | © 2015
Paper $18.95 ISBN: 9781783603404 Published April 2015 For sale in North and South America only
Amid the hubbub of daily life and the seemingly endless bounty of capitalism, it’s easy to forget that all human action must be played out within our planet’s limitations. Any hope of infinity—of infinite growth, infinite prosperity, and the like—is an illusion. Yet that very acknowledgment of the earth’s limits, highlighted by environmentalists for decades, has been assimilated almost seamlessly into the rhetoric, dynamics, and power structures of development.

Wolfgang Sachs predicted as much nearly twenty years ago in Planet Dialectics, his now-classic collection of trenchant and elegant explorations of the crisis inherent in the West’s relationship to nature and social justice. Looking specifically at such key concepts as efficiency, speed, globalization, sustainability, and development, Sachs shows that our current economic system is utterly incompatible with true sustainability and the quest for justice among the world’s people. Only by taking back the concepts of sustainability and justice, and acknowledging that they demand wholesale change to the West’s growth-obsessed economics, can we make real change for good in the world.
Foreword to the critique influence change edition
Susan George

Preface to the first edition

Bibliographical note

Part 1 The Archaeology of the Development Idea
1. The Archaeology of the Development Idea

Part 2 The Shaky Ground of Sustainability
2. Global Ecology and the Shadow of 'Development'
3. The Gospel of Global Efficiency
4. Environment and Development: The Story of a Dangerous Liaison
5. Sustainable Development: On the Political Anatomy of an Oxymoron

Part 3 In the Image of the Planet
6. One World - Many Worlds?
7. The Blue Planet: On the Ambiguity of a Modern Icon
8. Globalization and Sustainability

Part 4 Ecology and Equity in a Post-development Era
9. Ecology, Justice and the End of Development
10. The Two Meanings of Resource Productivity
11. Speed Limits
12. The Power of Limits: An Inquiry into New Models of Wealth

Review Quotes
New Internationalist
“Sachs' ideas are dynamite.”
Progress in Development Studies
“A remarkable book . . . well written, full of food for thought. . . . It should attract a wide readership among students dealing with development, environment, globalization, and planning issues.”
Tilman Santarius | Germanwatch
“Amazingly innovative in its perspective, unflinching in its analysis, and radical in its solutions, this book is a historic hallmark."
Gilbert Rist, author of The History of Development and The Delusions of Economics
“If you are not only concerned with the future of our planet but also with social justice, you have to read this book.”

Richard Norgaard, University of California, Berkeley
“Wise words, crafted with loving care for people and the planet, even more relevant than when they were written a quarter century ago, unfortunately.”
Jonathan Ensor, Stockholm Environment Institute
“Remains an essential read for anyone involved in the field of development. This book has never been more vital than today.”

Julian Agyeman, Tufts University
“Sachs elegantly reminds us that in the search for justice to people and planet, we need to begin 'civilization change' by changing the rich, not the poor.”

Camilla Toulmin, director of the International Institute for Environment and Development
“Still remarkably fresh and insightful, Planet Dialectics gives us a much needed critique of economics gone wrong.”
David Mittler | Resurgence
“Brings together insights from anthropology, history, economics, cultural studies and environmental science to show that the rapidly expanding global market economy is designed to benefit only the few . . . and will inevitably cause disastrous environmental overshoot. . . . Planet Dialectics is an impressive book.”

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