Society always sustained itself locally, until the industrial revolution, when an inexorable march began toward bigger, centralized economies. In Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet, Bill McKibben says relentless growth is now ruining the globe; maintenance of wealth and resources, instead of expansion, must be society's new driver, or it will perish. Here staff editor Mark Fischetti questions his assertions.
SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN: Your basic message is that humankind must give up growth as its modus operandi. Why can't we just grow more smartly?