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The Localization Reader: Adapting to the Coming Downshift.

Publisher: MIT Press, ISBN: 9780262516877

ABSTRACT MIT Press: http://mitpress.mit.edu/catalog/item/default.asp?ttype=2&tid=12829

Energy supplies are tightening. Persistent pollutants are accumulating. Food security is declining. There is no going back to the days of reckless consumption. But there is a possibility—already being realized in communities across North America and around the world—of localizing, of living well as we learn to live well within immutable biophysical constraints.

Society is shifting from the centrifugal forces of globalization (cheap and abundant raw materials and energy, intensive commercialization, concentrated economic and political power) to the centripetal forces of localization: distributed authority and leadership, sustainable use of nearby natural resources, community self-reliance and cohesion. While attention shifts to the local, there are crucial regional, national and international dimensions.

This book, combining original and classic works, shows how localization—a process of affirmative social change—can enable psychologically meaningful and fulfilling lives while promoting ecological and social sustainability. Topics range from energy dynamics to philosophies of limits, from the governance of place-based communities to the discovery of positive personal engagement. Together they point the way to a transition that can be peaceful, democratic, just and psychologically resilient.

NOTE: All royalties from the sale of this book have been allocated, by contract with the MIT Press, to two community organizations that exemplify localization. Growing Hope is an organization dedicated to helping people improve their lives and communities through gardening and local food security (www.growinghope.net) and People’s Food Co-op has long sought to feed a community with wholesome food and good work (www.peoplesfood.coop).

Contributors: Gar Alperovitz, Sharon Astyk, Wendell Berry, Adam Dadeby, Raymond De Young, John S. Dryzek, David J. Hess, Robert Hopkins, M. King Hubbert, Ivan Illich, Warren Johnson, Rachel Kaplan, Stephen Kaplan, Karen Litfin, Thomas A. Lyson, Dennis Meadows, Donella Meadows, Lester W. Milbrath, Thomas Princen, Jorgen Randers, Josiah Royce, Kirkpatrick Sale, Ernst F. Schumacher, Michael Shuman, Joseph A. Tainter, Robert L. Thayer

About the editors: Raymond De Young and Thomas Princen are professors at the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan. De Young is the author of numerous peer-reviewed journal articles on conservation psychology and urgent transitions and is the author of The Localization Papers (www-personal.umich.edu/~rdeyoung) and Princen is the author of The Logic of Sufficiency (2005) and Treading Softly: Paths to Ecological Order (2010) and the coeditor of Confronting Consumption (2002), all published by the MIT Press.

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    ABSTRACT: The converging of climate disruption, energy descent and economic instability is stressing civilization, perhaps foreshadowing a downshift to a lower level of complexity. It is easy to despair at the unsustainability of human behavior; however, such despair may come from taking too narrow and pessimistic a view of human nature, such as believing unsustainability results from a motivational drive to reduce cognitive dissonance, which leaves us floun-dering in collective denial or that behavioral inertia is an immutable force making us unable to shift direction, or that humans are egocentric, short-term gain maximizers, consuming resources with little concern for waste, passing costs on to others and forming exclusive groups that neglect outsiders. While each is based on valid insights, the mistake is our believing that any one is the root of human nature. Such reductionism harkens, unfortunately, to an earlier period, when a then-dominant behaviorism argued that the existence of a behaviorist explanation made all other explanations irrelevant. After over a century of research, it would hardly seem necessary for us to argue in support of multiple determinants of behavior. Yet, single-determination theories abound. Their oversimplification is no more acceptable now than it was then; if indeed there is a demonstrable role for one view, this in no way eliminates the possibility that there is a role for other, and more positive, views as well. That humans can act in unsustainable ways is irrefutable. But when discussing human behavior, saying that our species' motivation is X or our behavior is to always do Y is simply wrong. There is no scientific basis for so narrow a view of human nature. The brain is more malleable and behavior more adaptive than such statements allow.
    Carbon Management. 02/2011; 2(6):607-611.

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