Sunday, April 13, 2008

James Gustave Speth

James Gustave Speth is Dean of the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies at Yale University and author, most recently, of The Bridge at the Edge of the World: Capitalism, the Environment, and Crossing from Crisis to Sustainability.

From a Q & A with Speth at The Bridge at the End of the World website:

Q: What is the main premise you examine in The Bridge at the Edge of the World?

A: My point of departure in this book is the momentous environmental challenge we face. But today's environmental reality is linked powerfully with other realities, including growing social inequality and neglect and the erosion of democratic governance and popular control. I have tried to show in the book how these three seemingly separate areas of public concern come together and how we as citizens must now mobilize our spiritual and political resources for transformative change on all three fronts.

Q: Why is there such an urgent need for a new approach on the environment?

A: Something is badly wrong. Here’s the paradox: The environmental community has grown in strength and sophistication, but the environment has continued to deteriorate. The mounting threats reported in the book point to an environmental tragedy of unprecedented proportions. Most of us with environmental concerns have worked within the system, but the system has not delivered. Time once called me the “ultimate insider,” but the mainstream environmental community as a whole has been “ultimate insiders.” But it is time for the environmental community--indeed, everyone--to step outside the system and develop a deeper critique of what is going on.

We all live lives powerfully shaped by a complex system that rewards as well as destroys. That system is now giving rise to an undesirable reality--environmentally, socially and politically. If we want to transform that system for the better, we should stop being predictable and become agents of change.
Read the full Q & A.

--Marshal Zeringue