A wide-ranging indictment of modern society and its lack of sustainability.
In this book on climate change and the future, Boyd (Energy and the Financial System, 2013) draws on philosophers from Plato to Foucault as well as scientific research to indict modern society for its inability to plan for a sustainable future. He also offers suggestions for overcoming inertia, apathy, and active resistance to achieve a world that will survive. In clear, measured language, Boyd contends that one of the primary drivers of civilization’s problems, along with inequality and resistance to change, is shortsightedness, as in the acceptance of post–World War II economic gains: “Many mistook this fleeting phenomenon, created by a certain set of circumstances combined with cheap energy, for a long-term trend.” He goes on to point out this pattern of humanity’s shortsightedness in the context of weather patterns, industrial agriculture, and financial behavior. Boyd faults contemporary societies for failing to take a long-term view of their infrastructures, citing the conversion of working waterfront districts into housing in New York, London, and Toronto as a trend whose consequences will be felt as transportation costs increase. The book devotes a chapter to debunking myths propagated by those who do not see climate change as a dire threat, and he challenges the science behind the international goals for carbon emissions and temperature change in a thoroughly footnoted section. Boyd’s conclusion is summed up in one of his subtitles: “Any Version of ‘Business As Usual’ Is Not Tenable.” Instead, he recommends that readers accept that continuing growth and development are neither possible nor desirable: “Once the necessity for a no-growth/de-growth society is accepted, the ways in which society must change start to become apparent,” with many of those ways involving a shift from globalization to strong connections within local communities. An extensive notes section adds support to Boyd’s persuasive arguments that demonstrate the need for change in order to ensure that humans have a future.
A coherent, well-written challenge to the status quo that guides readers who want to stop and reverse the effects of climate change.