Prugh, Thomas, Robert Costanza and Herman Daly. 2000. The Local Politics of Global Sustainability. Washington, DC: Island Press.
CED commentator: Mick Newkumet
This terrific book explains the dynamics of politics in terms of sustainability, and how we can work to make more positive changes in the future. The book starts by explaining how our vision of "saving the earth" is a bit skewed. When we talk about how we need to save the environment and "Go Green," we are really, in essence, panicking. It is humans of the present and the future that we need to save, not the Earth. The Earth will be here long after we are gone. What we must figure out is a way to keep the Earth in a state in which we can still survive and prosper here for centuries to come.
So how do we do this? Can an individual make this change on their own? Will it take all of us? Prugh, Costanza and Daily, in true CED form, explain that we must change the way that we look at politics before we can truly make change for the better on the sustainability front.
The authors set up the political state of our country by giving us the example of a conversation between former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich and his fellow Clinton advisors. Reich was looking to change the landscape of how politics is done. The response he got was a resounding "No." There was too much at risk to have change. Too many people who might not get re-elected or not receive financial backing. The authors stressed that if we were to bust up this way of looking at politics, we could start to make better changes.
Benjamin Barber's "strong democracy" is what they proposed, and supported quite well. Using a CED lens, strong democracy encourages engagement and empowers citizens to participate directly in community decision making. The book goes through many different examples of how this has worked in different ways across the country. The goal is for it to spread everywhere and help people to enact change through involvement, a true CED principle.
I believe this book is a very good read for any CED student or professor, especially those who are interested in environmental change and local politics. It gave me a much better insight on what needs to be done in order to start on the path to sustainability.