The Planetary Emergency

Environmental Collapse and the Promise of Ecocivilization

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About the Book

Earth and its inhabitants face an unprecedented crisis–the human-caused destruction of the planet’s life support systems. Deteriorating climate bringing super storms, mass forest fires, melting glaciers, droughts, extreme heat and rising seas, a decline in food production, soil loss, water pollution and declining fisheries all threaten the future of life on earth with a looming extinction event not seen for 60 million years.

Beginning in the 17th century, we developed a civilization based on radical materialism, exploitation of natural resources and the myth of endless economic growth. For all its technological wonders, this “hypercivilization” has proven unsustainable. This book explores ways we can create an “ecocivilization” compatible with the laws and limits of nature–a new way of living already developing, with new technologies, new forms of social organization and a new story about ourselves and the Earth.

About the Author(s)

Kent D. Shifferd has taught for 35 years at Northland College, the University of Wisconsin, Ripon College, and United Theological Seminary. He is a founder and former executive director of the 21-school consortium, the Wisconsin Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies.

Bibliographic Details

Kent D. Shifferd
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 332
Bibliographic Info: 29 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2021
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8346-1
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4128-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Revolution of Hypercivilization 1
Part I—Breakdown: A Brief Tour Through the Global Environmental Crisis  9
1. The Perfect Storm 11
2. Assault on the World’s Forests, Soils, Water and Air 28
3. War’s War on the Environment and Splitting the Atom 42
4. Environmentally Induced Diseases and the Genetic Revolution 57
5. Climate Change: The Crowning Blow 76
6. The Prospect of Collapse 96
Part II—The Rise of Hypercivilization  107
7. “The Old Way” 109
8. Materialism, Capitalism and Conquest 120
9. Industrialization 141
10. Resisting Hypercivilization: Poets, Painters and Darwin 162
11. Resisting Hypercivilization: Conservationists, Environmentalists and Blockadia 179
Part III—Breakthrough: Creating Ecocivilization  197
12. Our Changing Mind 199
13. Changing Education, Food and Industry 222
14. The Energy Revolution Is Underway 233
15. Creating Resilient, ­Place-based Communities 254
Conclusion: We Can Make It—On Toward Ecocivilization 278
Chapter Notes 283
Bibliography 307
Index 319