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See Inside April 2010

Breaking the Growth Habit

Society can safeguard its future only by switching from reckless economic growth to smart maintenance of wealth and resources



Courtesy of Nancie Battaglia

Editor’s introduction: Scientists have proposed compelling steps to ease specific kinds of environmental damage and slow consumption of certain resources [see “Solutions to Environmental Threats,”]. But Bill McKibben, scholar in residence at Middlebury College and co-founder of climate action group 350.org, maintains that to truly stop ruining the planet, society must break its most debilitating habit: growth.

In his new book, Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet, McKibben argues that humankind, because of its actions, now lives on a fundamentally different world, which he calls “Eaarth.” This celestial body can no longer support the economic growth model that has driven society for 200 years. To avoid our own collapse, we must instead seek to maintain wealth and resources, in large part by shifting to more durable, localized economies.

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