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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Book Review - "Red Sky At Morning"

In Red Sky At Morning: America and the Crisis of the Global Environment , James Gustave Speth essentially does 3 things:

  1. He describes the crisis that the earth is facing with climate change.
  2. He proposes eight transitions that we need to make if we are to successfully meet this challenge.
  3. He proposes different pathways and solutions to making the eight transitions.

The eight transitions that Speth proposes represent significant paradigm shifts:

  • Transition 1 - A Stable or Smaller World Population
  • Transition 2 - Free of Mass Poverty
  • Transition 3 - Environmentally Benign Technologies
  • Transition 4 - Environmentally Honest Prices
  • Transition 5 - Sustainable Consumption
  • Transition 6 - Knowledge and Learning
  • Transition 7 - Good Governance
  • Transition 8 - Culture and Consciousness

Whether we can make these transitions is difficult to predict. Without a doubt, this is a monumental challenge.

A concept that Speth introduces in the book is JAZZ - the collection of individuals and groups working with no overall coordination to fight global warming. From a 2004 interview on NPR's "Living on Earth" radio program (listen to the MP3 of the interview here), Speth describes JAZZ as follows:

"So, what's happening in our country is really quite extraordinary. Because below the radar, there's real movement at the state level, the city level, at the consumer level, at the individual investor. We have at the beginnings in our country of, I think, a real revolution. The infrastructure is being put in place for a bottom-up movement that can really change things, and eventually it will force the political process to change. So things are beginning to stir, but it's in this realm of JAZZ, it's not in the realm of global governance."

This is exactly what SEA and other organisations around the country are doing. So many of the solutions to this problem will occur when we all take action, change behaviors to use energy more sustainably, and hold governments and companies accountable for their actions and decisions. Speth's quote demonstrates that we are not alone in this effort!

Finally, the last section of "Red Sky," Resources for Citizens, outlines ways that we can begin to address the Eight Transitions. It is available as a pdf for download here.

Start implementing solutions! I encourage you to choose one of the Eight Transitions and do whatever you can to move us all forward!

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