Transition to a Sustainable and Just World

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Envirobook, 2010 - Climate and civilization - 330 pages
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Ted Trainer argues that the magnitude of the global problems our society is running into is not well understood. We are far beyond sustainable levels of production and consumption and the defining condition of the coming era will be intense scarcity. In addition the global economy is extremely unjust. It delivers most of the world's wealth to the few who live in rich countries. It follows that the present consumer-capitalist society cannot be fixed. A society based on commitment to affluent lifestyles, market systems, profit maximisation, globalisation, competition and constant growth causes the problems and must be replaced if they are to be solved. A satisfactory society must therefore be some kind of Simpler Way, centred on frugal but adequate lifestyles, mostly small and highly self-sufficient local economies under participatory local control, and nonmaterial sources of satisfaction. The Simpler Way would be a delightful liberation, enabling relaxed, secure, convivial and fulfilling lifestyles for all.Clear implications for strategy follow, which contradict most of the existing theories and campaigns pursued by people in conventional, Green and Left circles.

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Ted Trainer is to be congratulated! The Transition to a Sustainable and Just World is not just a piece of writing that analyses the global problems of our society, but it argues that the society which creates all the big problems in the first place cannot, in turn, solve its own problems. Indeed, Trainer's argument is that in order to get us out of our problems, the structure of our society and the way we are working has to be entirely replaced, because it's beyond 'fixing'.
Trainer analyses our current situation and challenges and examines the major sources of our problems - from an economical as well as governmental and educational perspective. He also argues that our quality of life is actually nowhere near what it should be, even though we believe otherwise. This, as Chapter 7 so clearly illustrates, is the inevitable and direct consequence of our mistaken commitments and modus operandi to growth, the markets, competition, affluence and individualism.
Throughout the book the arguments are underpinned by thought-provoking examples. Take this, for instance: "What would happen if mum made the toast and sold it to the highest bidder?" Answer: "Dad would get the toast, because he can pay more for it. The kids and grandma, would starve." Yet this is how economies and market forces shape the world we live in and drive us to forever more self-interest, predatory behaviour and suspicion.
An excellent book of interest to anyone who is interested exploring simpler ways away from consumerism and greed that in the end will get us nowhere.
Christine Maingard, Author of "Think Less, Be More" -

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