[UCP Books]: Wasted World: How Our Consumption Challenges the Planet


“Rob Hengeveld provides a broad history of humanity’s impacts on Earth’s life support systems, leading to today’s pivotal and dangerous moment. . . . It is possible to pull Earth back from the brink—if we act on Hengeveld’s message.”

Gretchen Daily, Stanford University


Wasted World
How Our Consumption Challenges the Planet
Rob Hengeveld

Publication Date: April 15, 2012 Cloth • $30.00 • £19.50
UK Publication Date: April 23, 2012 978-0-226-32699-3

This is an urgent book with a message we may not want to hear—but can’t afford to ignore. The earth is on the brink of collapse, and in Wasted World Rob Hengeveld insists that the dire physical state of the planet is no longer something we can simply speculate about—in fact, our fears have been realized: the earth has reached its carrying capacity and is working on overload at this very moment.
In this troubling work, Hengeveld traces the related histories of population growth and resource consumption. As he explains, human life depends not only on mineral resources but also on energy. People first obtained energy from food and later supplemented this with energy from water, wind, and animals as one source after another fell short of our ever-growing needs. Finally, we turned to fossil energy, which generates atmospheric waste that is the key driver of climate change. Because all of these problems are interconnected, Hengeveld argues strenuously that measures to counter individual problems cannot work. Instead, we need to tackle their common cause—our staggering population growth. While many scientists agree that population growth is one of the most critical issues pressuring the environment, Hengeveld is unique in his insistence on turning our attention to the waste such growth leaves in its wake and to the increasing demands of our global society.
A practical look at the sustainability of our planet, Wasted World elucidates the complex causes of our current global state and boldly offers us a way to curb our growing consumption and pull back from the edge of ecological disaster.
Rob Hengeveld is affiliated with the Centre for Ecosystem Studies of Alterra, Wageningen, the Netherlands, and was an honorary professor in the Department of Animal Ecology at the Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam.

He is available for interviews. Please contact Carrie Olivia Adams at (773) 702-4216 or cadams@press.uchicago.edu for more information.


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