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The Myth of Progress: Toward a Sustainable Future Hardcover – September 29, 2006

4.6 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Wessels writes that people with a richness of life created through their connections with community, place and themselves have no need to compulsively consume the "frivolous accoutrements that we tend to think of as making us happy, but which really don't." Wessels' wisdom in The Myth of Progress provides much more than just a warning about the damage we are doing to our biosphere. It also helps us to see the damage we may be doing to our very souls."--People's Voice Magazine

"This is a short, often pithy book, and you can easily read it in a evening. In this way, it serves multiple purposes. It is a fine refresher or overview for people who are either new to this material or who haven't thought about it in a long time. It's perfect for folks who lack a science background and wish to better understand the relationship between ecological and economic systems. It is a valuable teaching tool that covers these basic principles in a simple, no-nonsense way. Most importantly, it retains all of Wessel's charm as a writer and educator. Indeed, the book's most riveting passages are his anecdotes and examples . . . This is an impassioned, critical, and bold book. Wessels is guided by his overwhelming sense that the laws of sustainability demand respect, understanding, and interpretation, and unless we educate ourselves about their full complexity and truth, we will do irreparable damage to the landscapes we love."--Northern Woodlands

"In this extended essay on sustainable development, Wessels challenges a conventional understanding of economic progress by posing a series of dichotomous worldviews, including linear versus complex systems and unfettered growth versus sustainability. . . . An interesting and challenging overview of environmental concerns, the book provides a sober and thoughtful . . . look at a serious long-term issue. Recommended."--Choice

About the Author

TOM WESSELS is a professor of ecology and the founding director of the Master's degree program in Conservation Biology at Antioch New England Graduate School. His books include Untamed Vermont (Thistle Hill Publications, distributed by UPNE, 2003), The Granite Landscape: A Natural History of America's Mountain Domes from Acadia to Yosemite (2001), and Reading the Forested Landscape: A Natural History of New England (1997).
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 180 pages
  • Publisher: Vermont; First Edition edition (September 29, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1584654953
  • ISBN-13: 978-1584654957
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.8 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #816,615 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I pulled this book from my waiting stack after reviewing Vice: Dick Cheney and the Hijacking of the American Presidency While all that we do wrong is rooted in corrupt politics such as Dick Cheney represents so well, I wanted to get away from the personalities and focus on the underlying truths of the greatest challenge facing all of us, preserving the planet for future generations.

This thoughtful careful author from New Hampshire has created a really special book, small, readable, and packed with fact (superb footnotes). He gives all due credit to his predecessors in the field--Georgescu-Roegen, Meadows, Dalay, Hawken et al.

He brings out the nuances of complex systems and how our linear reductionist thinking, and our false assumption that technology will resolve our waste creation and earth consumption issues, combine to place all that we love at risk. I was personally surprised to learn that even if we fund 100 water desalination or decontamination plants, and resolve our shortfalls of clean water, that the energy required to do so would result in entropy and further losses.

The author brings up the need for better metrics (see my reviews of "Ecology of Commerce" and "Natural Capitalism" as well as my list on "True Cost" readings. He points out that the GDP does not reflect the non-cash economy or the degree of equality/inequality in the distribution of new wealth. I would add to that the importance of counting prisons and hospitals as negatives rather than positives.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This outstanding book presents us, in a very humble way, a great deal of carefully chosen and neatly connected science facts that manage to effortlessly bring the reader to the evidence. Understanding and respecting earth's ecosystems is crucial to everyone, not only to ecologists.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I selected this book, with some trepidation, for use in my college humanities course on sustainability. I feared that it might be too science-based for my decidedly smart, but non-scientifically oriented students. I needn't have worried. Even the most science-challenged among them absolutely loved it. A beautifully written book that presents even the most complex ideas with clarity. Who knew that such a slim volume of elegantly radical perception would have the power to change lives?

A must-read.
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Format: Hardcover
This will no doubt be one of those rare books I read over and over again. If you believe that profligacy holds empty promises; that we are spiralling on a downward course of natural resource depletion and want to go out into the world armed with a message of hope inspired by nature and supported by scientific principle then this is the book for you.
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Format: Hardcover
Tom Wessels uses excellent examples to support his arguments in Myth of Progress. He has a writing style that is fluid, understandable, enjoyable, and uplifting. If more people read this book we would be on our way to a sustainable future with an environmental ethic.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I wish more people would read this book. The writing is good, with helpful references at the end of each chapter. As an environmental scientist, Tom Wessels has a well-founded and healthy perspective on economics, politics, and the future. He says no more and no less than he needs to. Anyone looking for a more educated view of the current state of the world should read this. Obviously, I don't claim that this book is a comprehensive analysis of and solution to our current downward spiral, but Tom Wessels is, as far as I can tell, correct in most of what he claims in this book.
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