Our incremental approach to sustainability is at odds with the scale of the challenge we face as society. My recent reading list has given some insights into how we got to where we are. And it provides a foundation for where we need to go next.
These books take in new insights, research and discoveries to question the existing historical narratives of development: from the start of agriculture, the enlightenment, ‘the age of discovery’ and globalisation.
The Dawn of Everything, The Nutmeg’s Curse and Coffeeland cover narratives of: how societies develop; our relationship to nature (from nature, with nature, in nature & as nature); and globalisation. 1187 BC pierces together the events that led to the collapse of various civilisations within decades of each other. The Value of Everything and The Divide, also offer historical insights around economics and the development of capitalism. Coffeeland in particular is a fascinating historical account of capitalism, and economic & social development. It is told through coffee and individuals in the trade in El Salvador.
Taken together these books offer insights and overlapping perspectives on how we have got to where we are: a place where a global minority come to dominate a global majority. They show the ebb and flow of history, and why nothing is fixed.
Reading these books provides some implicit insights into what comes next. Or perhaps what is needed next, if society is to develop in a manner that is both more equitable and in harmony with the planet.
The planet will be fine. Its society we need to save.