Yale Book Among Washington Post’s Best Books of 2008

A Yale book examining the clash between today’s capitalism and the environment was selected by the Washington Post as one of the best nonfiction books of 2008. 

The newspaper called “The Bridge at the Edge of the World: Capitalism, the Environment, and Crossing from Crisis to Sustainability,” by Gus Speth, dean of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and a former White House advisor, “a thoughtful diagnosis of the root causes of planetary distress.”

The book, published by Yale University Press, argues that today’s environmentalism is failing and, to succeed, must seek a broader agenda and a new politics.  Speth urges that today’s environmentalism expand to embrace a profound challenge to consumerism and commercialism and the lifestyles they offer, a healthy skepticism of “growthmania” and a redefinition of what society should be striving to grow, a challenge to corporate dominance and a redefinition of the corporation and its goals, a commitment to deep change in both the functioning and the reach of the market, and a powerful assault on the anthropocentric and “contempocentric” values that currently dominate.

“My point of departure is the momentous environmental challenge we face,” he says. “But today’s environmental reality is linked powerfully with other realities, including growing social inequality and neglect and the erosion of democratic governance and popular control.” Speth examines how these seemingly separate areas of public concern are intertwined and calls upon citizens to mobilize spiritual and political resources for transformative change on all three fronts. 

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Tom Conroy: tom.conroy@yale.edu, 203-432-1345