Earth at Risk

Natural Capital and the Quest for Sustainability

Claude Henry and Laurence Tubiana

Columbia University Press

Earth at Risk

Google Preview

Pub Date: December 2017

ISBN: 9780231162524

376 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $35.00£27.95

Pub Date: December 2017

ISBN: 9780231544917

376 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $34.99£27.95

Earth at Risk

Natural Capital and the Quest for Sustainability

Claude Henry and Laurence Tubiana

Columbia University Press

We are squandering our planet’s natural capital—its biodiversity, water and soil, and climate stability—at a blistering pace. Major changes must be made to steer our planet and people away from our current, doomed course. Though technology has been one of the drivers of the current trend of unsustainable development, it is also one of the essential tools for remedying it. Earth at Risk maps out the necessary transition to sustainability, detailing the innovations in science and technology, along with law, institutional design, and economics, that can and must be put to use to avert environmental catastrophe.

Claude Henry and Laurence Tubiana begin with a measure of the costs of ecological damage—the erosion of biodiversity; air, water, and soil pollution; and the wide-reaching effects of climate change—and then consider the solutions that are either now available or close on the horizon and that may lead to a more sustainable global trajectory. What community-driven or market-based tools can be used to promote sustainable development? How can renewable energy and energy storage advances help us decrease our use of fossil fuels? How can we substitute agroecology for the damaging chemical methods of industrialized agriculture? Is international agreement on climate goals possible? Building on the experience of the most significant climate negotiation of the decade, Earth at Risk shows what a world organized along the principles of sustainability could look like, no matter how optimistic it may seem at the present moment. Though formidable obstacles remain to the realization of this significant transition, Henry and Tubiana present the case for collective initiatives and change that build momentum for implementation and action.
Claude Henry and Laurence Tubiana have written a critical book at a critical time. Earth at Risk is an in-depth, detailed account of the challenge our world faces, coupled with provocative suggestions of a path forward. Chapter after chapter provides essential context of the threats, grist for the debate over how to confront them, and required reading for policy-makers wrestling with reality. John F. Kerry, former U.S. Secretary of State
The authors are ideally situated to understand the ins and outs of the climate crisis, and in this book they deliver an insightful overview, one that will be useful to any student of our dilemma. Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature
Earth at Risk is uncomfortable but essential reading. Our planet and the life it sustains face imminent peril from humankind’s success. As the authors make abundantly clear, it is now up to humankind to redefine success, to reinvent economics, to develop a new global ethos of caring and sharing and, above all, to take with fierce urgency, the bold steps necessary to avert disaster. Stephen Heintz, president, Rockefeller Brothers Fund
In Earth at Risk, Claude Henry and Laurence Tubiana do more than explain why action is urgently needed to conserve the world’s natural capital. They also explain why some previous efforts failed, why others succeeded, and how, drawing from the lessons of both kinds of experience, the world can achieve sustainable development in the future. Scott Barrett, Columbia University
A must-read for everyone concerned over humanity’s future on Earth. Henry and Tubiana are clear: a global transformation to sustainability is our only path to equity and prosperity. The situation is dire, but they provide overwhelming evidence that we have the solutions we need—we must now adopt them. A remarkable achievement, balancing risk and pragmatic hope in a perfect mix. Johan Rockström, Stockholm University
Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. Erosion of Biological Diversity
2. The Ubiquitous Waste and Growing Scarcity of Water and Soil
3. Energy: As Little as Possible
4. Perspectives on Climate Change
5. Enlisting the Scientific Method
6. Sustainability at the Intersection of Science and Nature
7. Scientific Uncertainty, Fabricated Uncertainty, and the Vulnerability of Regulation
8. Producing and Disseminating Sustainability-Enhancing Innovations
9. Economic Instruments for Sustainable Development
10. Global Governance of Sustainable Development
11. The Geopolitics of Environment
12. The New Multipolarity of Sustainable Development
Conclusion
Notes
References
Index

About the Author

Claude Henry, a physicist turned economist, is a professor of sustainable development at Sciences Po Paris and at Columbia University. He is also currently president of the Scientific Council of the Institute of Sustainable Development and International Relations.

Laurence Tubiana is the founder and director of the Institute of Sustainable Development and International Relations and professor and director of the Sustainable Development Center at Sciences Po Paris. She was the special representative of the French minister of foreign affairs for the 2015 Paris Climate Conference (COP-21) and French ambassador for climate negotiations.