Literature 

Sustainable Society Recommended Reading

From population and environmental history to financial meltdowns and resource scarcity, a discussion of what it takes to make a nation sustainable covers a lot of ground.  Below, in no particular order is a list of very useful and illuminating books.     

Environment, Population, History   

Green History of the World
Clive Ponting
Environmental and demographic history of the world.
 
Life, Money and Illusion – Living on earth as though we want to stay
Mike Nickerson
Great overview of population, resources, growth and social issues.
 
An Environmental History of the Twentieth Century World
J. R. McNeill
Resources, environment, pollution and human society.
 
Our Ecological Footprint – Reducing Human Impact on Earth
Mathis Wackernagel, William Rees
Quantifying overall human impact on earth resources.  How many earths do we need?

Growing Pains - A Planet in Distress
Valorie M. Allen
Broad coverage of the environmental and population issues facing humanity.
           
The World Without Us
Alan Weisman
The disintegration of human built structures once humans cease to support them.
 
An Illustrated Short History of Progress
Ronald Wright
The social, economic and environmental history of man in short form.
 
Plan B 4.0
Lester Brown
The economic and environmental problems we face and what we have to do to deal with them.
 
Empires of Food - Feast, Famine and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations
Evan D.G. Fraser, Andrew Rimas
Food systems as the basis for development and decline of civilizations and empires.
           
Keeping Our Cool
Andrew Weaver
Climate change thoroughly explained by Canadian Nobel laureate.         
 
Hot Air - Meeting Canada’s Climate Change Challenge
Jeffrey Simpson, Mark Jaccard, Nic Rivers
Climate change and Canada’s response to it in both practical and political terms.
 
Plows, Plagues and Petroleum
William Ruddiman
Demonstrates that the effect of humans on the climate goes back thousands of years.
 
The Weather Makers
Tim Flannery
How humans have changed and are changing the earths weather.
 
Cyprus - A chronicle of its forests, land and people
J. V. Thirgood
The ebb and flow of human populations and the interactions with the land.  
 
Libraries in the Ancient World
Lionel Casson
What kind of information ancient societies had and how they stored and accessed it.

Too Smart for Our Own Good – The ecological predicament of humankind
Craig Dilworth
Human and social history against the backdrop or resource and the environment
 
World Trade and Biological Exchanges Before 1492    
John L. Sorenson, Carl L. Johannessen
Plant and animal evidence for extensive trade and travel between the Americas and Asian and Europe before Columbus.

1491
Charles C. Mann
What the native civilizations in the Americas were actually like prior to Columbus.

The Ancient Mariners
Lionel Casson
The movement of the ancients was much greater than current text books describe.

Planning for Seven Generations
Mike Nickerson
Assuring long term sustainability and prosperity is possible if we change from a consumer society into a human development society

Demography – Measuring and Modelling Population Processes
Samual Preston, Patrick Heuveline
Very technical and math heavy.
 
Across Atlantic Ice – The origin of America’s Clovis culture
Dennis Stanford, Bruce Bradley
Significant evidence that a migration from Europe to the North American east coast preceded Siberian migration across the Bering isthmus.  
 
A Concise History of World Population
Massimo Livi-Bacci
Overview of world and regional population history with resource and migration context.
 
The Dust of Empire – the race for mastery in the Asian heartland
Karl Meyer
The fight for resources, dominance and nationhood.  A template for world history.
 
The First Measured Century – An illustrated guide to trends in America 1900 – 2000
Theodore Caplow, Louis Hicks
Wide variety of statistics and trends for USA over 100 years.
 
The Rapid Growth of Populations 1750 – 2000
William Stanton
Nation by nation population history and its impacts and consequences.
 
Betrayal and Deceit – the politics of Canadian immigration
Charles Campbell
The policy of mass immigration under the microscope.

Atlas of Population World History
Colin McEvedy and Richard Jones
Human demographic history from 400BC to present on a country to country basis.

The book our interactive population and resource graphs are based on in the Population History section of the site.

          
-          Economics         

A History of Money from Ancient Times to the Present Day
Glyn Davies
The most complete history of various forms of money down through the ages.
        
This Time is Different   .. Eight Centuries of Financial Folly
Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff
The history of money and financial failures.   The same mistakes repeated.
         
The Ascent of Money
Niall Ferguson
A financial history of the world at face value.

Contagion
John R. Talbott
Sketches the financial crisis sweeping the global economy and how an individual can prepare.
 
Bad Money
Kevin Phillips
Outlines the social and commercial folly of current economic trends.
 
Aftershock
Robert Reich
What went wrong with the American economy and how to fix it.
 
The New Paradigm for Financial Markets
George Soros
Some harsh light shed on the workings of financial markets.
 
Why Your World is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller
Jeff Rubin
Effect on personal lives, the economy and society of declining oil production.
 
The Black Swan
Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Describes the performance of stock markets in terms of unique events not trends.
 
Freakonomics
Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner
Basic primer on the real basis for several social trends.
 
The Effects of Mass Immigration on Canadian Living Standards and Society
Herbert Grubel
Economic impact of mass immigration on per capita incomes, social safety net and a wide range of issues.
 
The Devine Right of Capital
Marjorie Kelly
Wealth inequality and corporate welfare are discussed in light of increasingly unproductive and speculative investment patterns.
 
People Money – The promise of regional currencies
Margrit Kennedy, Bernard Lietaer
Good discussion on fiat currency and alternatives.
 
Free Trade Doesn’t Work
Ian Fletcher
Catalogs the problems with “free trade”.  Great resource for the globalism skeptic.
 
The End of Growth
Jeff Rubin
What happens when the world moves towards stable output.
 
Managing Without Growth
Peter Victor
Taking the horror out of a non-growing economy.
 
Web of Debt
Ellen Hodgson Brown
Who profits from debt and who pays for it.

The Collapse of Globalism
John Ralston Saul
The myriad failures of globalism told on a more anecdotal rather than scientific basis.
 
Peak Everything – Waking up to a century of declines
Richard Heinberg
Resource limits and sustainability.
 
Scarcity
Chris Clugson
Very thorough and very depressing analysis of the availability of all critical resources going forward.
 
Santa Claus is Alive and Well and Living on Wall Street        
Bruce Gauthier
Wall Street fraud.
 
Beyond Growth – the economics of sustainable development
Herman Daly
The economy in a resource and society based model as opposed to society and the environment in a dollar based model.
 
Prosperity Without Growth – economics for a finite planet
Tim Jackson
The forced abandonment of unending growth can be a benefit to human society if handled properly.

          
-          Social Progress, Societal Collapse and Equality

The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better
Richard G. Wilkinson and Kate Pickett
The groundbreaking and definitive work on social equality.
         
Collapse - How Societies Chose to Fall or Succeed
Jared Diamond
Analysis of various societies to environmental decline and their responses and success or failure.

Weaving Golden Threads: Integrating Social Theory
Bob Blain
Wide ranging coverage of social and economic behaviour and theory.
           
Shop Class as Soulcraft
Matthew B. Crawford
The psychological and social value of doing real work.
 
Free Lunch
David Cay Johnston
Snippits of how the wealthiest Americans enrich themselves at government expense.
           
Laying It On the Line
Buzz Hargrove
One man’s journey through the workers ranks and union/corporate conflicts.
          
The Truth About Canada
Mel Hurtig
Some of the less appealing truths about Canada.  Myths debunked.
        
The Assault on Reason
Al Gore
Describes the decent of American political debate into polarized rants.
 
Snakes in Suits
Paul Babiak, Robert D. Hare
The analysis of psychopaths rise to corporate leadership.
 
Our Endangered Values
Jimmy Carter
The descent of America in its ability to find its moral compass and deal with its social problems.
 
Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
John Perkins
How to control nations by controlling their debt.
 
Pigs at the Trough
Arianna Huffington
Catalogs leadership which acts less as leaders and more as top predators.
 
Mayday! Mayday!
Lowell Green
Outlines the drawbacks of mass immigration and multiculturalism policy in Canada

Climate Wars
Gwynne Dyer
Likely patterns of human conflict caused by climate change and resource shortages.

Second Chance
Zbigniew Brzezinski
Analysis of the competency of three American presidents, Bush, Clinton and Bush.

From Armageddon to the Fall of Rome
Erik Durschmied
How ancient warlords changed the world.

What Went Wrong at Enron
Fusaro Miller
Market manipulation and widespread corruption result in social strain and corporate collapse.

Guns, Germs and Steel
Jared Diamond
Why societies in different parts of the world developed so differently.

The End of Poverty
Jeffrey Sachs
The march of progress will eliminate poverty.
 
Merchants of Doubt
Naomi Oreskes, Erik Conway
Mechanics of manipulation of public issues by corporate connivance.
 
Life, Money and Illusion – Living on earth as though we want to stay
Mike Nickerson
Great overview of population, resources, growth and social issues.
 
Imperial Hubris
Anonymous (CIA analyst now gone public)
Why the USA is losing the war against Aterror@

                  
-          Energy          

Biofuels, Solar and Wind as Renewable Energy Systems
David Pimentel - Editor, Various Contributors
Analysis of renewable energy systems on the basis of net energy output, economic costs and sustainability.
           
Sustainable Energy - Without the Hot Air
David J. C. MacKay
A common language in-depth explanation of the math and physics of energy use and generation in a society.  Should be on every school curriculum.
 
Smelling Land - the Hydrogen Defense Against Climate Catastrophe
David Sanborn Scott
The hydrogen option as the basis for our future energy systems.
           
The Upside of Down
Thomas Homer-Dixon
The rise and fall of the Roman empire through the lens of energy consumption.
          
Why Your World is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller
Jeff Rubin
Effect on personal lives, the economy and society of declining oil production.         
 
Twilight in the Desert
Matthew R. Simmons
The fudged numbers behind official oil reserve figures and the arrival of peak oil.
 
The End of Oil
Paul Roberts
The dependency of modern society on oil and the impacts and alternatives in its wake.
 
Energy and the Wealth of Nations – understanding the biophysical economy
Charles Hall, Kent Klitgaard
The connection between human social development, energy and resources.

 

 

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