The Bridge at the Edge of the World: Capitalism, the Environment, and Crossing from Crisis to Sustainability

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James Gustave Speth
Yale University Press (March 10, 2009) Book Description:

How serious are the threats to our environment? Here is one measure of the problem: if we continue to do exactly what we are doing, with no growth in the human population or the world economy, the world in the latter part of this century will be unfit to live in. Of course human activities are not holding at current levels—they are accelerating, dramatically—and so, too, is the pace of climate disruption, biotic impoverishment, and toxification. In this book Gus Speth, author of Red Sky at Morning and a widely respected environmentalist, begins with the observation that the environmental community has grown in strength and sophistication, but the environment has continued to decline, to the point that we are now at the edge of catastrophe.

Speth contends that this situation is a severe indictment of the economic and political system we call modern capitalism. Our vital task is now to change the operating instructions for today’s destructive world economy before it is too late. The book is about how to do that.

 Critical Acclaim:

“Speth is a maestro—conducting a mighty chorus of voices from a dozen disciplines all of which are calling for transformative change before it is too late. The result is the most compelling plea we have for changing our lives and our politics. And it is a compelling case indeed.”— Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

“Honest, insightful, and courageous. Dean Speth draws on his formidable experience and wisdom to ask why we are failing to preserve a habitable Earth. His conclusions are cogent, revolutionary, and essential.”— David W. Orr, Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies and Politics, Oberlin College. Author of Design on the Edge and Earth in Mind

“When a figure as eminent and mainstream as Gus Speth issues a warning this strong and profound, the world should take real notice. This is an eloquent, accurate, and no-holds-barred brief for change large enough to matter.”— Bill McKibben, author, Deep Economy and The Bill McKibben Reader

 ”Powerful… The writing is deeply humane, witty, uplifting, and modest rather than pretentious… A superb synthesis of the great economic questions of our time.” -Robert Kuttner, The American Prospect


For more information on “The Bridge at the Edge of the World”, visit the book’s webpage at

You can also hear James Gustave Speth talk about this book by listening to this Yale University Podcast

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