Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change

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University of Illinois Press, Jun 1, 1982 - Science - 320 pages
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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.
 
 

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User Review  - ritaer - LibraryThing

Deeply discouraging view of the economic errors of the last hundred years. More so when one realizes it was written in 1982, when the population was lower by a couple of billion. It is clear from this ... Read full review

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Easily one of the most important books ever written.

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Contents

Our Need for a New Perspective
3
Eventually Had Already Come Yesterday
15
The Tragic Story of Human Success
17
Dependence on Phantom Carrying Capacity
36
Watershed Year Modes of Adaptation
58
Siege and the Avoidance of Truth
75
The End of Exuberance
77
The Processes That Matter
95
Industrialization Prelude to Collapse
157
Resistance and Change
181
Faith versus Fact
183
Life under Pressure
199
Living with the New Reality
211
Backing into the Future
213
Turning Around
227
Facing the Future Wisely
244

Succession and Restoration
115
Ecological Causes of Unwelcome Change
126
Nature and the Nature of Man
143
Glossary
271
Indexes
283
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About the author (1982)

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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