Cover for CATTON: Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change

Overshoot

The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change

Our day-to-day experiences over the past decade have taught us that there must be limits to our tremendous appetite for energy, natural resources, and consumer goods. Even utility and oil companies now promote conservation in the face of demands for dwindling energy reserves. And for years some biologists have warned us of the direct correlation between scarcity and population growth. These scientists see an appalling future riding the tidal wave of a worldwide growth of population and technology.

A calm but unflinching realist, Catton suggests that we cannot stop this wave - for we have already overshot the Earth's capacity to support so huge a load. He contradicts those scientists, engineers, and technocrats who continue to write optimistically about energy alternatives. Catton asserts that the technological panaceas proposed by those who would harvest from the seas, harness the winds, and farm the deserts are ignoring the fundamental premise that "the principals of ecology apply to all living things." These principles tell us that, within a finite system, economic expansion is not irreversible and population growth cannot continue indefinitely. If we disregard these facts, our sagging American Dream will soon shatter completely.

"The greatest contribution of Overshoot is the translation of ecological understanding into terms directly related to our own society's future. Catton has a very good way with words--ghost acreages, Homo Colossus, Age of Exuberance--which serve to make the challenge of the future clear to anyone reading his book."--Warren Johnson, author of Muddling Toward Frugality

William R. Catton, Jr., is professor of sociology at Washington State University and author of From Animistic to Naturalistic Sociology and more than seventy-five articles in such journals as American Sociologist, Social Science Quarterly, Journal of Forestry, and BioScience.

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