Transitions to Sustainability

Transitions to sustainability 133

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By the turn of the millennium the evidence that humans were changing the biosphere was manifested through a number of disturbing trends, including climate change, ozone depletion, global deforestation, coral bleaching, biodiversity loss, increased incidences of drought, and rising levels of atmospheric and marine pollution. These changes, some of which are irreversible, have given rise to the concept of the Anthropocene, a new geological epoch in which humans are the dominant force for planetary change. We are the first generation to realize the enormity of the changes that humans are wreaking on the global biosphere, and in all likelihood we are the last generation with the opportunity to do something about it. Yet traditional policies are failing to respond to the challenge of reversing global environmental decline at the very historical moment when the need for action is most urgent. The profound changes that we are living through and the need to find new and innovative responses to global environmental degradation present a pressing theoretical and conceptual challenge for both practitioners and scholars of sustainability. This book aims to respond to that challenge. The contributions in this pioneering volume are divided into six thematic sections: culture, systems, business, art, rights, and citizenship. The chapters—empirically rich and critically guided—are written by leading scholars from around the world. The book makes a vital contribution to debates on sustainability and will prove essential reading for anyone who is concerned about global environmental change and our options for addressing it.