SUSTAINABILITY: A History by Jeremy Caradonna

SUSTAINABILITY: A History by Jeremy Caradonna
05 Mar
2017
From food packets to fuel company manifestos, ‘sustainability’ is everywhere. Jeremy Caradonna tracks the explosion of this word into our lexicon; by fully understanding where it’s come from, we can figure out where it’s going

Though it has roots in some medieval practices, philosophies and indigenous traditions, sustainability has only been a self-defined movement since the 1970s. By then, ‘no longer was sustainability merely a concept or set of idea,’ he writes, ‘scholars began to describe in vivid detail what a sustainable society might look like and discussed in no uncertain terms the unsustainability of modern industrial society.’ Caradonna explains the word’s newfound legitimacy in great detail, exploring crucial milestones such as the creation of the United Nations Environmental Program, and its later commission of the IUCN.

However, it was not an easy sell – this was the era of Thatcher and Reagan, after all. Both had prioritised free-markets, the privatisation of public services and placed, Caradonna states, economic growth before the environment. ‘The point here is that sustainability did not magically win over the hearts and minds of business and government leaders,’ he explains.
In spite of the battles ahead, Caradonna believes sustainability will become a defining point in human history. ‘The practice of sustainability could give rise to the world’s third major socio-economic transformation, after the Agricultural Revolution that took place 10,000 years ago, and the Industrial Revolutions of the late 18th and 19th century’.

Click here to purchase ‘Sustainability: a History’ by Jeremy Caradonna

Share this story...

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to Twitter

Geographical Week

Get the best of Geographical delivered straight to your inbox every Friday.

Subscribe Today

EDUCATION PARTNERS

Aberystwyth UniversityUniversity of GreenwichThe University of Winchester

TRAVEL PARTNERS

Ponant

Silversea

Travel the Unknown

DOSSIERS

Like longer reads? Try our in-depth dossiers that provide a comprehensive view of each topic

  • The Air That We Breathe
    Cities the world over are struggling to improve air quality as scandals surrounding diesel car emissions come to light and the huge health costs of po...
    Diabetes: The World at Risk
    Diabetes is often thought of as a ‘western’ problem, one linked to the developed world’s overindulgence in fatty foods and chronic lack of physi...
    The Nuclear Power Struggle
    The UK appears to be embracing nuclear, a huge U-turn on government policy from just two years ago. Yet this seems to be going against the grain globa...
    National Clean Air Day
    For National Clean Air Day, Geographical brings together stories about air pollution and the kind of solutions needed to tackle it ...
    REDD+ or Dead?
    The UN-backed REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) scheme, under which developing nations would be paid not to cut dow...

MORE DOSSIERS

NEVER MISS A STORY - follow Geographical

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in REVIEWS...

Exhibitions

Prestigious Natural History Museum photography competition recognises Brent Stirton's capturing…

Books

An inveterate armchair traveller ever since my Soviet childhood, I…

Books

Bonnett’s previous book, Off the Map, was a thoroughly readable…

Books

When Wilkinson set off to become the Telegraph’s Islamabad correspondent…

Books

Dartmoor National Park might appear wild, but it’s the lines…

Books

Barry Smith is a self-confessed islomaniac and a fixation with…

Books

Neoliberalism. The word seems to have lost all meaning. According…

Films

Combining a treasure trove of unseen footage set to music…

Books

The dreadful pandemic of 1918, writes Laura Spinney, ‘engulfed the…

Books

Those of us who enjoy good travel writing know that…

Books

‘I look around me and I see a world populated…

Books

Convergence has long been a talking point within evolutionary science.…

Books

At its core, Thomas’ book is about a big hole…

Books

I’m not sure how much of a market there is…

Books

Watling Street connects Dover to Anglesey. Once a meandering track,…

Films

An epic journey alongside the nomadic crew of the Infinity…

Films

Vice President and climate action advocate Al Gore returns with…

Films

A new Netflix documentary investigates the dire state of the…

Books

After two years, you’d probably think it nigh on impossible…