The Five Horsemen of the Modern World

Climate, Food, Water, Disease, and Obesity

Daniel Callahan

Columbia University Press

The Five Horsemen of the Modern World

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Pub Date: May 2016

ISBN: 9780231170024

416 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $35.00£27.95

Pub Date: May 2016

ISBN: 9780231541527

416 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $34.99£27.95

The Five Horsemen of the Modern World

Climate, Food, Water, Disease, and Obesity

Daniel Callahan

Columbia University Press

In recent decades, we have seen five perilous and interlocking trends dominate global discourse: irreversible climate change, extreme food and water shortages, rising chronic illnesses, and rampant obesity. Why can't we make any progress in counteracting these problems despite vast expenditures of intellectual, institutional, and social capital? What makes these global emergencies the "wicked problems" that resist our best efforts and only grow more daunting?

Daniel Callahan, noted author and the nation's preeminent scholar in bioethics, examines these global problems and shines a light on the institutions, practices, and actors that block major change. We see partisan political and ideological forces, old-fashioned hucksters, and trumped-up scientific disagreements but also the problem of modern progress itself. Obesity, anthropogenic climate change, degenerative diseases, ecological degradation, and global famine are often the unintended consequences of unchecked industrial growth, insatiable eating habits, and technologically extended life spans. Only through well-crafted political, regulatory, industrial, and cultural counterstrategies can we change enough minds to check these threats. With big thinking on issues that are usually evaluated separately, this book is sure to scramble partisan divides and provoke unusual, heated debate.
This book is a wide-ranging, sincere, and syncretic attempt to identify and analyze the greatest threats to the planet today. It is a work of tremendous breadth of vision, with an earnest concern about some of the most serious problems of our time. Callahan is a master of clear communication. Donna Dickenson, author of Me Medicine vs. We Medicine: Reclaiming Biotechnology for the Common Good
Daniel Callahan's powerful, lucid book offers a sober confrontation with some of the most serious problems facing the world today, asking us to change our ideas of progress to mitigate the catastrophic consequences of how we have come to live. Michael Roth, Wesleyan University
Callahan, a pioneer in bioethics, has written a thoughtful meditation on our most recalcitrant worldly challenges, from the health of our bodies to the wellbeing of our planet. Well-written and accessible, The Five Horsemen of the Modern World demonstrates how the complex mix of technology, politics, and media have slowed progress and calls for a more productive partnership with sustainable businesses to chart a path forward. Paul Sabin, author of The Bet: Paul Ehrlich, Julian Simon and Our Gamble Over Earth's Future
Callahan is subtle in expressing his point of view—you never feel like he is pushing an ideology or a single-minded solution at the reader. He lets the data speak first, and then he sets the path. Sheldon Krimsky, author of Stem Cell Dialogues: A Philosophical and Scientific Inquiry Into Medical Frontiers
Callahan's analysis of the evolution of global problems is instructive and accessible; his use of data, clear and persuasive. A work of impressive scope. Steve Cohen, Columbia University
It is hard enough to write a wise book on a single major social problem, but Daniel Callahan has written a wise book about five of them, ultimately proposing important suggestions for moving forward. The Five Horsemen should be mandatory reading for anyone interested in climate change, food distribution, the water supply, chronic illness or obesity—in other words, all of us. This book challenges us to look at the global and local ramifications of everything we know and do. Barron H. Lerner, MD, PhD, Author of The Good Doctor: A Father, A Son and the Evolution of Medical Ethics
Pragmatic and measured. Nature
Recommended. CHOICE
Preface
Acknowledgments
I. Mapping an Irregular Terrain
1. Our Overheating, Fraying Planet
2. Feeding a Growing Population: How, and with What Kind of Food?
3. Water: Not Everywhere and Not Always Fit to Drink
4. Chronic Illness: Rich or Poor, Few Escape
5. Obesity: The Scourge of Bad Diets and Sedentary Habits
II. Examining the Pathways Through the Thickets
6. Always More People and Ever More Elderly: Caring and Paying
7. The Technology Fix: A Way Out?
8. A Volatile Mix: Public Policy, the Media, and Public Opinion
9. Law and Governance: Managing Our Public Planet and Our Private Bodies
III. Toward the Future: Progress, Hope, and Fear
10. Progress and Its Errant Children: More Is Never Enough
11. The Necessary Coalition: Social Movements, Legislatures, and Business
Notes
Index

Read the chapter, "Our Overheating, Fraying Planet":

About the Author

Daniel Callahan is president emeritus and cofounder of The Hastings Center, which focuses on ethical and policy issues. He has published seventeen volumes, including Taming the Beloved Beast: How Medical Technology Costs Are Destroying Our Health Care System (2009), Medicine and the Market: Equity v. Choice (2006); and What Price Better Health? Hazards of the Research Imperative (2006).