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The Bridge at the Edge of the World: Capitalism, the Environment, and Crossing from Crisis to Sustainability Paperback – March 10, 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (March 10, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300151152
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300151152
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #213,309 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Acclaimed environmentalist Speth asserts that our capitalist economy, with its emphasis on continuous robust growth, is at loggerheads with the environment. He minces no words as he writes that to destroy life as we know it, all we have to do is “keep doing exactly what we are doing today.” Observations from nineteenth-century naturalists, such as Audubon writing about the passenger pigeon, reveal humanity’s failure to understand the repercussions of environmental destruction, a lack of foresight now exacerbated by the whirlwind demands of modern consumerism. Quotes from economists, political philosophers, and technology experts offer erudite analyses of a realization set out in Bill McKibben’s Deep Economy (2007) and now gaining momentum: society’s slavish devotion to economic growth does not allow for critical environmental protections. We need look no further than the controversial Kyoto Protocol, Speth reminds us, as evidence. If Americans do not rein in spending, only one result is assured. If we do not learn to consume less, we will consume the biosphere itself in our binge. --Colleen Mondor --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Speth is a maestro—conducting a mighty chorus of voices from a dozen disciplines all of which are calling for transformative change before it is too late. The result is the most compelling plea we have for changing our lives and our politics. And it is a compelling case indeed."—Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
(Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.)

"Honest, insightful, and courageous. Dean Speth draws on his formidable experience and wisdom to ask why we are failing to preserve a habitable Earth. His conclusions are cogent, revolutionary, and essential."—David W. Orr, Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies and Politics, Oberlin College. Author of Design on the Edge and Earth in Mind

(David W. Orr)

“When a figure as eminent and mainstream as Gus Speth issues a warning this strong and profound, the world should take real notice. This is an eloquent, accurate, and no-holds-barred brief for change large enough to matter.”—Bill McKibben, author, Deep Economy and The Bill McKibben Reader

(Bill McKibben)

"An extremely important book both for what it says and for who is saying it. The steady transformation of a solid, pragmatic, progressive negotiator into a 'radical and unrealistic' oracle concerned with the fundamental nature of modern economies is an important event."—Richard Norgaard, University of California, Berkeley
(Richard Norgaard)

"One can scarcely choose a more important or timely subject than this one. Speth writes about it with passion and conviction, and a touch of humor."—J. R. McNeill, Georgetown University
(J. R. McNeill)

“A powerful and ambitious attempt to characterize the changed strategies environmental organizations need to adopt to become more effective. This book challenges many things that would seem to have political immunity of a sort—among others, corporate capitalism, the environmental movement itself, and the forces of economic globalization.”—Donald Kennedy, editor-in-chief, Science Magazine
(Donald Kennedy)

"In this magisterial and hopeful book, Speth charts three compelling journeys—his own path from reformer to deep systems analyst, environmentalism's trajectory from inside player to social movement, and the nation's emerging great transition from a way of life rooted in economic scarcity to the discovery of nature's abundance. This is a profound book which deserves our deepest attention.”—Juliet Schor, Professor of Sociology, Boston College, and author of The Overspent American: Why We Want What We Don't Need
(Juliet Schor)

"Gus Speth leads us to the formidable bridge we must cross -- an epic transformation in how we live, consume and produce -- to halt capitalism's destructive forces and to improve the human condition.  A calm and persuasive guide, Speth is infused with the human optimism always needed for great historic shifts."—William Greider, author, The Soul of Capitalism: Opening Paths to a Moral Economy
(William Greider)

"What a delight to read Gus Speth's' new book, which no one else could write but all will admire, stunned by his remarkable talents. The book opens vast new opportunities for thought and discussion in science and public affairs and will undoubtedly long stand as the classic that it is."—George M. Woodwell, Founder, Director Emeritus, and Senior Scientist, Woods Hole Research Center
(George M. Woodwell)

“Gus Speth’s critique of unbridled capitalism is riveting and haunting, and his solutions are poetic and inspiring.”—Devra Davis, author of The Secret History of the War on Cancer and When Smoke Ran Like Water
(Devra Davis)

“In The Bridge at the Edge of the World, James Gustave Speth gives us new lenses with which to see what we have done to our environment and, more important, to see what we can do to restore it. He challenges us all to act not for ourselves, but for our children and grandchildren. In particular, he takes on the most powerful guardians of the status quo—our mindsets. The bridge he hopes to construct has its bridgehead firmly based in today, because Speth asks us to think about it and then to use our creativity, imagination, and the power of common purpose to act to restore the environment and create a healthier world.”—Honourable Gordon Campbell, Premier, Province of British Columbia
(Honourable Gordon Campbell)

"Gus Speth is one of the leaders in trying to steer humanity on a course to sustainability, and this is his most important book to date.  Read it, and then take some action."—Paul R. Ehrlich, author with Anne Ehrlich of The Dominant Animal: Human Evolution and the Environment
(Paul R. Ehrlich)

The Bridge at the Edge of the World may be the most concise analysis of the current state of the natural world and what might be done about it."—Brooke Williams, Planet News
(Brooke Williams Planet News 2008-01-29)

“If we are to pull away from the edge of catastrophe, in which everything that we value is at risk, the advice presented so clearly and masterfully in this book will help show us the way. It should be carefully studied by everyone interested in the world beyond our immediate future and daily preoccupations.”—Peter H. Raven, President, Missouri Botanical Garden
(Peter H. Raven)

"Acclaimed environmentalist Speth asserts that our capitalist economy, with its emphasis on continuous robust growth, is at loggerheads with the environment. He minces no words as he writes that to destroy life as we know it, all we have to do is 'keep doing exactly what we are doing today.'"—Booklist
 
(Booklist 2008-03-01)

"In his severe indictment of our stewardship of the planet, Speth says all we need to do to destroy the Earth is to continue what we're doing now: overproduce and overconsume. He presents a scary compendium of all the damage we have inflicted. . . . But he's smart enough to know that if the market economy is a big part of the problem, it has to be a big part of the solution. . . . The book is a wide-ranging synthesis of many ideas in the realms of economics, politics, and ecology, and calls for some profound changes in the way the economy and political institutions are governed."—Peter Hadekel, Montreal Gazette
 
 
 
(Peter Hadekel Montreal Gazette 2008-03-29)

"The Bridge at the End of the World lays out a harsh future and strong prescriptions for changing the way we do business, conduct politics and treat the environment. . . . Speth believes that the world economy's obsession with growth and consumerism will lead to disaster. . . . What is needed, Speth argues, is a radical change in the economic sysytem that takes into account the environmental costs of doing buisiness and refocuses society on building more sustainable ways of living."—David Funkhouser, Hartford Courant
(David Funkhouser Hartford Courant 2008-04-17)

Click here to listen to an interview with the author on the <a href='http://yalepress.yale.edu/yupbooks/podcast.asp'><b>Yale Press Podcast</b></a>.
(http://yalepress.yale.edu/yupbooks/podcast/Addendum_Speth.mp3 2008-02-15)

"Contemporary capitalism and a habitable planet cannot coexist. That is the core message of The Bridge at the Edge of the World, by Gus Speth, a prominent environmentalist who, in this book, has turned sharply critical of the U.S. environmental movement. . . . This book is an extremely probing and thoughtful diagnosis of the root causes of planetary distress."—Ross Gelbspan, Washington Post Book World
(Ross Gelbspan Washington Post Book World 2008-04-27)

Selected as a Top 5 Environment Book in New England by the Boston Globe
(Top 5 Environment Book in New England Boston Globe 2008-04-20)

Click here for information on upcoming events, available on the author's website <a href="http://www.thebridgeattheedgeoftheworld.com" target="_blank">Bridge At the Edge of the World.com</a>.
 
(http://www.thebridgeattheedgeoftheworld.com/events/)

Click here for an extended question & answer discussion with the author.
(http://yalepress.yale.edu/yupbooks/discussionswith/james_speth.asp)

"Speth lays out the scientific consensus about climate change and ecological stress with authority. Global warming, he notes, has a terrible momentum. . . . [This book] is an excellent quick survey of global climate and ecological management at present. . . . [Speth's] aim is to improve the quality of life, foster social solidarity, and restore our connectedness to nature by making corporations accountable to society at large."—Brian Thomas, New Leader
(Brian Thomas New Leader 2008-03-01)

"James Gustave Speth, wrote the book The Bridge at the Edge of the World because he's worried about our future and he's right. We should all be very worried. . . . This book, both for it's brilliant articulation of the worlds' current system and, as Speth calls it, the 'crisis of capitalism,' is an important addition to your bookshelf. And it's sufficiently easy to read and accessible that it's a great gift for just about anybody!"—Thom Hartmann, buzzflash.com
(Thom Hartmann buzzflash.com 2008-07-10)

"Speth pulls no punches. He offers a sharp, sometimes lacerating critique of the movement he helped establish, saying it has become swamped under 'environmental impact statements' and 'total maximum daily load' regulations. . . . His solution is to forge a new 'environmental political movement,' in which initiatives in human rights, social justice, politics, and the enviroment all work toward the same goal: a healthy planet that can fulfill the needs of all humanity. . . . [Speth says] 'the environmental community needs to become a political reform group.' It's a call we're hearing with increasing frequency, but this time it comes from a uniquely authoritative voice."—Molly Webster, onearth Magazine (NRDC)
 
 
(Molly Webster OnEarth Magazine (NRDC) 2008-05-28)

"Speth has emerged as a devastating critic of capitalism's destruction of the environment. In this radical rethinking, he has chosen to confront the full perils brought on by the present economic system, with its pursuit of growth and accumulation at any cost. . . . The crucial problem from an environmental perspective, he believes, is exponential economic growth."—John J. Simon, Monthly Review
(John J. Simon Monthly Review 2008-07-01)

"With candor, cadence and clarity, Speth presents a compelling case for prompt action, making this book a must-read on the subject. Protecting the environment needs not just an overhaul of institutions, but of values and mindsets, he says. . . . He argues that we must now choose between two paths: one leading to destruction, the other to a bridge that would help us cross to safety. Like an evangelist, Speth draws not just on facts, but anecdotes, quotes, even poetry to make his point."—Le-Min Lim, Chicago Tribune
(Le-Min Lim Chicago Tribune 2008-07-19)

"When Gus Speth gets radical, it's time to start digging bunkers. . . . He's been a major player in the modern environmental movement—and he says that movement is failing. In his new book . . . Speth argues that the progress of the green movement has been no match for the far larger tide of ecological destructon that now threatens to submerge humanity entirely. It's time to question the political economy that dominates the developed world, time to ask whether it's providing benefits commensurate with the massive environmental deterioration it generates. It's time to question capitialism."—David Roberts, Gristmill
(David Roberts Gristmill 2008-06-10)

"Speth's well-reasoned call for a new environmental movement, for a new movement in which environmental issues are central, is a welcome and much-needed contribution, particularly for the climate and environmental movements. . . . Speth writes approvingly of a govenment-regulated market economy, one in which environmental impacts and the 'polluter pays' principle would be paramount, essentially a form of environmental social democracy. . . .  And we are fortunate that 'ultimate insider' Gus Speth will continue to help lead us as we build towards the Environmental Revolution which must occur."—Ted Glick, Gristmill
(Ted Glick Gristmill 2008-05-20)

"Speth laments the tortuously slow pace of environmental activism in the face of the near-calamitous decline of species, soils, forests and oceans, and the dangerous advance of global warming. . . . But the challenges are too grave to wait for a new president. Speth's book makes it abundantly clear: Start ourselves, while (hopefully) there's still time."—Neal Peirce, The Washington Post Writers Group
(Neal Peirce The Washington Post Writers Group 2008-06-15)

"Speth is at his best analyzing the nature and the complexity of the problem, and displaying the debates among various academic disciplines and in multiple circles: scholars, policy analysts, activists, opinion leaders, and policy makers. His prodigious knowledge of these debates and his ability to render them in a crisp, clear prose, densely sprinkled with great quotes from great minds, make the book a fine read and a valuable resource. It should be standard reading for students who care about sustainability, regardless of their area of study and future career plans."—Philip J. Vergragt & Halina S. Brown, Sustainability: Science, Practice & Policy
(Philip J. Vergragt & Halina S. Brown Sustainability: Science, Practice & Policy 2008-08-20)

"An important contribution to the growing body of visionary literature dealing with the challenges of sustainability. In addition to his own thought-provoking observations, Speth's extensive references offer an excellent introduction to many other authors who address our daunting global environmental problems, capitalism's role in exacerbating them, and the core sufficiency principles that many observers believe will be required to deal with them. The book provides a smorgasbord for future readings by those who want to dig deeper into the issues of sustainability."—Edward Sanders, Sustainability: Science, Practice & Policy
(Edward Sanders Sustainability: Science, Practice & Policy 2008-08-20)

"The Bridge at the Edge of the World was an epiphany for me. . . . It is an optimistic view of the future. . . . One of the book's most compelling features is that it serves as a guide to key literature; hundreds of citations are included for those of us inclined to explore further the issues raised. . . . I see it as a guide for moving toward cultural, social, and environmental equity that could in turn lead to balanced sustainability in the planet's future. . . . Read this book! I am making sure all my graduate students read my copy."—John D. Peine, Sustainability: Science, Practice & Policy
(John D. Peine Sustainability: Science, Practice & Policy 2008-08-20)

"Speth understands that America's addiction to growth must be challenged, and that we need to learn to recognize what is 'enough'. In recognizing that what environmentalism needs most is the forging of a new consciousness, Speth's book becomes a powerful support to our Network of Spiritual Progressives—indispensable reading!"—Tikkun
(Tikkun 2008-08-25)

"What is needed, Speth argues, is a radical change in the economic sysytem that takes into account the environmental costs of doing buisiness and refocuses society on building more sustainable ways of living."—David Funkhouser, Hartford Courant
(David Funkhouser Hartford Courant 2008-04-17)

"Contemporary capitalism and a habitable planet cannot coexist. . . . This book is an extremely probing and thoughtful diagnosis of the root causes of planetary distress."—Ross Gelbspan, Washington Post Book World
 
 
(Ross Gelbspan Washington Post Book World 2008-04-27)

"With candor, cadence and clarity, Speth presents a compelling case for prompt action, making this book a must-read. . . . Like an evangelist, Speth draws not just on facts, but anecdotes, quotes, even poetry to make his point."—Le-Min Lim, Chicago Tribune
(Le-Min Lim Chicago Tribune 2008-07-19)

"The Bridge at the End of the World was an epiphany for me. . . . I see it as a guide for moving toward cultural, social, and environmental equity that could in turn lead to balanced sustainability in the planet's future."—John D. Peine, Sustainability: Science, Practice & Policy
(John D. Peine Sustainability: Science, Practice & Policy 2008-08-20)

"A great book that everyone concerned with the fate of the world must read. . . . The book is deeply thoughtful, thoroughly researched, and a pleasure to read."—Seventh Generation
(Seventh Generation 2008-07-22)

“With candor, cadence and clarity, Speth presents a compelling case for prompt action, making this book a must-read on the subject.”—Bloomberg News
 
(Bloomberg News 2008-07-19)

“If America can be said to have a distinguished elder statesman of environmental policy, Speth is it. . . . He is after bigger game—the Wal-Martization of America, our slavish devotion to an ever-expanding gross domestic product, the utter failure of what [he] disparagingly calls ‘modern capitalism’ to create a sustainable world.  What is needed, Speth believes, is not simply a tax on greenhouse gas emissions, but ‘a new operating system’ for the modern world.”—Orion
(Orion 2008-09-01)


“Are these solutions hopelessly idealistic and impossible to achieve? Speth’s passionate argument is convincing—it can be done, but it will require a great deal of effort.”—The Futurist
 
 
 
 
(The Futurist 2008-07-01)

“His call for a radical departure for the [environmental] movement’s current strategy comes from the ultimate environmental insider”—The Nation
                                    
(The Nation 2008-10-06)

“Speth’s indictment of the present state of our politics is precise and perceptive. . . . He urges a bold and broad agenda for systemic changes.”—Bioscience
(Bioscience 2008-10-01)

"A highly respected environmental leader, Speth has come to the conclusion that our capitalist market economy depends on growth in material production at levels that cannot continue without destroying the earth's natural support system. His book makes a strong case for redefining the aims of the economy; but the path forward, especially as developing nations aspire to Western standards of living, is far from clear. He believes the environmental movement as well as the government is failing to lead the way to essential change."—Leslie Carothers, Wall Street Journal
(Leslie Carothers Wall Street Journal 2008-10-06)

“[Speth is] one of the most influential actors in the mainstream environmental movement.”—Chelsey Perkins, Utne Reader
 
(Chelsey Perkins Utne Reader)

"Speth provides both specifics of what is wrong and a strong argument for change and then suggests some mechanisms to begin to get there."—Paul R. Cooley, Science Books & Films
(Paul R. Cooley Science Books & Films)

"A passionate and incisive call for the environmental movement to deepen its critique and enlarge its politics. . . . The resulting work is nothing short of pathbreaking. . . . This book should strike a resonant chord in a public growing increasingly apprehensive, and merits inclusion in the canon of environmental literature alongside the works of Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson, and Gro Harlen Bruntland."—Paul Raskin, Environment
(Paul Raskin Environment 2008-06-23)

"When someone as well placed as James Gustave Speth speaks out, you have to listen. . . . A masterly, uncompromising analysis and critique of where we are right now, a must-read."—Liz Elise, New Scientist
(Liz Elise New Scientist 2008-10-01)

"Destined to change the terms of the discussion."—Physics and Society
(Physics and Society)

"Speth delivers a bracing critique of the environmental movement."—Melinda Tuhus, E Magazine

(Melinda Tuhus E Magazine 2008-11-01)

"For its sources alone, this is a book you might want to keep handy as we did, in the old days, a copy of the desk encyclopedia, this one a rather stark chronicle of the planet's vital signs that [Speth] calls 'looking into the abyss.' It is also an ordered intellectual climb, assembled in the manner of a people's brief, that makes a daring case."—Oliver Houck, The Environmental Forum
(Oliver Houck The Environmental Forum 2008-11-01)

"An important message from such an influential and mainstream figure in the environmental movement. . . . Speth's importance is to bring the relationship between capitalism and climate change into mainstream debate, where it should stay."—Paul  Gillespie, Irish Times
(Paul Gillespie Irish Times 2008-10-29)

"Speth's passion for the environment and his unyielding desire to save our planet from destruction leads him to a conclusion that is slowly becoming more prevalent in the mainstream movement . . . a citizen-led movement that reimagines our current economy and state of mind in favor of environmental sustainability."—Chelsey Perkins, Utne Reader
(Chelsey Perkins Utne Reader 2008-08-29)

“Powerful. . . . The writing is deeply humane, witty, uplifting, and modest rather than pretentious. . . . A superb synthesis of the great economic questions of our time.”—Robert Kuttner, The American Prospect
 
 
(Robert Kuttner The American Prospect)

“This volume should be read by anyone concerned about the future of humankind on the planet. . . . Highly recommended. All collections and readership levels.”—Choice
(Choice)

"the most compelling plea we have for changing our lives and our politics."—Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

(Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.)

"Speth takes a hard look at the research on growth and environmental damage in relation to gross domestic product and concludes that despite a slight decline in the amount of environmental damage per increment of growth, growth in GDP always increases environmental damage. . . . He recommends a redesign of 'the operating system of capitalism' to support the development of local economies populated with firms that feature worker and community ownership and to charter corporations only to serve a public interest."—David Korten, Tikkun
(David Korten Tikkun 2008-11-01)

Selected as one of the best books of 2008 by the Washington Post in the Nature & The Environment category

(Washington Post 2008-12-01)

"Speth has given us a fresh look at the question of reconciling economy with ecology. . . . This is a book of hope and inspiraton. . . . What Speth has done, like a good Zen master, is to open our minds to the possibilities of aspiring to human self-realization, societal transformation, and a livable planet without setting limits on economic growth."—Sheldon Krimsky, Issues in Science and Technology
(Sheldon Krimsky Issues in Science and Technology 2009-01-01)

Finalist for the 2009 Orion Book Award, given by The Orion Society.
(Orion Book Award Orion Society 2009-03-23)

"Speth clearly demonstrates his mastery of the subject in this publication, which is well researched and written, providing a wealth of relevant references. It makes highly recommended and compelling reading for all those with a serious interest in the environment and the future of planet Earth, especially for existing and potential chartered environmentalists."—Alan Stainer, Materials World
(Alan Stainer, Materials World 2009-02-01)

“… a wealth of information and insight on the full spectrum of the environmental, economic, political, social and psychological challenges that we face … the most condensed, comprehensive and convincing book of its kind … the one that I would like to throw at every politician and every corporate leader … clarifying, reinforcing and supportive.” - John Whitmore, Resurgence, No. 253
(John Whitmore Resurgence, No. 253 2009-04-01)

"The Bridge at the End of the World . . . [is] required spiritual reading for our time." —David Hilfiker, Sojourners Magazine
(David Hilfiker Sojourners Magazine)

"In this book, Speth masterfully synthesizes a wealth of empirical scientific studies and social science theory. . . . Ultimately, Speth offers a hopeful message that the creativity, incentives, and energy of today's youth can achieve the fundamental transformation of modern capitalist democracy that is necessary to resolve pressing issues of environmental stewardship, and human solidarity within and among generations." —Christopher B. Barrett, Quarterly Review of Biology
(Christopher B. Barrett Quarterly Review of Biology)

"James Gustav Speth...leads us to a bridge at the edge of the world--an epic transformation of the way we live, produce, and consume. This is a fantastic, highly topical and potentially important book. It should widely be read, and translated into other languages."--Udo E. Simonis, Environmental Information + Environmental Policy
(Udo E. Simonis Environmental Information + Environmental Policy)

Customer Reviews

Pretty interesting read.
Mike Joe
This is a depressing book in that it clearly lays out the challenges facing us; it is hopeful in that it does provide a "bridge" to get us from this world to the next.
David Radcliff
Very well written, although I would have preferred more elaborate seedbeds of transformation.
madwolf

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

69 of 72 people found the following review helpful By David Radcliff on May 5, 2008
Format: Hardcover
As do other current writers such as Thomas Homer-Dixon and David Korten, James Speth sees us heading for catastrophe in the way we're over-using and over-polluting the earth, but holds out hope that we may yet turn back from the brink of destruction. He attributes our predicament to an economic system based on little more than constant growth, which in turns requires ever more extraction from the earth; weak or nonexistent government leadership; and an environmental movement that has been less "movement" and more an insider operation that down deep believes a) the government can and will eventually do the right thing and b) there won't be need for drastic redirection of our economic and political systems or serious change in our way of living.

Speth calls for a rediscovery of the true meaning of life (relationships, service, enjoyment of leisure, etc.)--and orienting our economic pursuits around this; a new form of participatory democracy that takes back our country from the corporate-led government we currently "enjoy"; ending over $850 billion in annual global subsidies for "perverse" practices such as overfishing the seas; developing an economic model that incorporates environmental care, human rights and worker well-being at its core; and international treaties with "teeth" to enforce environmental protection of critical habitats and endangered species and ecosystems.

This is a depressing book in that it clearly lays out the challenges facing us; it is hopeful in that it does provide a "bridge" to get us from this world to the next. It's up to us to build it and then be ready to walk over it.

Telling quote: "When the crisis occurs, the actions taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, and to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes the politically inevitable."
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62 of 69 people found the following review helpful By Story Clark Resor on April 22, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Length: 3:37 Mins
This is a quick introduction to the book. The video is on YouTube at [...]. Enjoy!
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Format: Hardcover
When dozens of major Southern Baptist leaders broke news in the spring of 2008 with a letter to the world about climate change, it was a major milestone in this era of global change. Their letter simply underlined what millions are coming to see, already. We all need to help forge a powerful new linkage between spiritual values and values concerning our natural world. The Southern Baptist leaders wrote, in part, "We believe our current denominational engagement with these issues has often been too timid, failing to produce a unified moral voice."

Coming from this very traditional American center of religious authority, this was an important prophetic voice in the conversation about where we're all heading in the tumbling and turning of cultural and social tidal waves these days.

And, while phrases like these that may sound disturbing, Yale University's Dean of the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies James Gustave Speth shows us - loud and clear toward the end of his new book - that this tumbling just might turn out to be good news.

That's because his eloquent book about our environmental crisis begins by outlining "next steps" that we all need to consider in a whole range of sectors in our society: politics, business, education and so on. But then, he comes to his final section: "Seedbeds of Transformation."

He writes: "Many of our deepest thinkers and many of those most familiar with the scale of the challenges we face have concluded that the transitions required can be achieved only in the context of what I will call the rise of a new consciousness. For some, it is a spiritual awakening - a transformation of the human heart.
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65 of 78 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Murphy on May 3, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
James Speth, in The Bridge at the Edge of the World, writes a book that lands somewhere between a scholarly treatise on the planetary environmental effects of supporting seven billion humans and an anti-capitalist, anti-growth, anti-multinational corporation rant. One can have the highest of ideals, and the wrongest of approaches, simultaneously. The Bridge at the Edge of the World may be the best example of this since Ralph Nader's run for the presidency in 2000 led, without a doubt, to Bush's victory in Florida. Nader, by getting ideologically sidetracked, led to an eight year stonewalling of any serious attempt to deal with the ongoing environmental catastrophe that Speth so clearly articulates. Speth's distracting focus on the highly debatable hypothesis that capitalism is the root of most environmental evil may deny him the very converts to the cause that are so urgently needed at this tipping point in human history.

Point of view is important, and before any potential flamer turns his/her acetylene torch on this review, consider this: I became sold on the idea of global warming in 1971. I'm a lifetime Sierra Club member, monthly contributor to the Nature Conservancy, drive the most fuel efficient car on the planet (a 2001 Honda Insight that I bought used), am an all weather (neither sleet, nor snow, nor rain, etc.) bicycle commuter on my 18 mile round trip commute to work. Were you to visit my home, you'd sweat in the summer, shiver in the winter, as my heat pump worries about unemployment. I actively campaigned for(including, ugh, canvassing), and voted for, Obama. I eat organic oatmeal for breakfast, and I frickin' listen to NPR. In short, I have some creds. And yet I feel this book is a disappointment.
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The Bridge at the Edge of the World: Capitalism, the Environment, and Crossing from Crisis to Sustainability
This item: The Bridge at the Edge of the World: Capitalism, the Environment, and Crossing from Crisis to Sustainability
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