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Treading Softly: Paths to Ecological Order download epub

by Thomas Princen

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Treading Softly: Paths t. .has been added to your Cart. As the epoch of seemingly limitless expansion comes to an end, Treading Softly represents an important springboard for debate about what comes next.

Treading Softly: Paths t. It finds an appropriate balance of 'realistic hope,' going beyond the easy answers so often put forward in environmental debates. Above all, it succeeds in encouraging readers to imagine a possible new world, and in emboldening us to get to work in creating it.

Thomas Princen explores ecological and economic sustainability at the University of Michigan. As the epoch of seemingly limitless expansion comes to an end,Treading Softly represents an important springboard for debate about what comes next. It finds an appropriate balance of 'realistic hope,' going beyond the easy answers so often put forward in environmental debates

Treading Softly book.

Treading Softly book.

Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2010. Thomas Princen employs this stragegy of persuasion-he also invokes enlightened self-interest, but I think he prefers to appeal to common sense-in his bold, tolerant, honest, and powerful short book. To be more specific, he invokes a set of minor or currently rather quiet segments (p. 171) inside the mixed bag that is American common sense. Common sense is not, after all, a stable block but a conglomeration of diverse parts, some of which do not fit at all well with the others. And it is the heterogeneity of the common store of wisdom that makes possible Princen's reorganization of it.

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While we can live well within our means, there is no simple way to achieve ecological balance

While we can live well within our means, there is no simple way to achieve ecological balance. This is not another save the environment by living greener book. It's about developing paths toward treading softly and living within our means. This book creates images of the possible. It's a how to book, for example, providing five points on how to tackle overconsumption (pages 37-38).

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We are living beyond our means, running up debts both economic and ecological, consuming the planet's resources at rates not remotely sustainable. But it's hard to imagine a different way. How can we live without cheap goods and easy credit? How can we consume without consuming the systems that support life? How can we live well and live within our means? In Treading Softly, Thomas Princen helps us imagine an alternative. We need, he says, a new normal, an ecological order that is actually economical with resources, that embraces limits, that sees sustainable living not as a "lifestyle" but as a long-term connection to fresh, free-flowing water, fertile soil, and healthy food.

The goal would be to live well by living well within the capacities of our resources. Princen doesn't offer a quick fix -- there's no list of easy ways to save the planet to hang on the refrigerator. He gives us instead a positive, realistic sense of the possible, with an abundance of examples, concepts, and tools for imagining, then realizing, how to live within our biophysical means.

Comments: (3)

While Princen's project of offering a rhetorical call to action to solve environmental issues is interesting and timely, his writing is so astonishingly bad, and his similes so laughably inaccurate and unhelpful, that the book added value merely as an anthropological curiosity through which one can marvel at the possibility a person of receiving a doctorate from Harvard despite calling the economy "The Great Beast."

Princen employs an interesting strategy to defend his premise that we ought to return to a "home economy" by never actually defending it. Stunningly, his book is more biased and less even-handed than this very review that you are reading right now. Instead, he largely avoids considering possible objections, relying on vague upper-middle class nostalgia to sell his theoretical readership on his vision of a return to a producers economy, where we all spend our time carving beautiful mahogany chairs and not worry about silly technological complexities like the internet and modern medicine.

If you want to read fantasy-porn about a middle-aged associate professor drying his laundry in the sun because it smells better that way, this is the book for you, but I'm sure you can find something better for free online. Save your wallet, save a tree, give it a pass.
Mr. Thomas Princen has written a masterpiece of understanding the critical interaction of humans and Earth's only environment in his outstanding thesis on our ecological order! He understands the role of humans soiling our own nest with the detritus of our "progress". The path we should all undertake has to begin right now, with no further delay.
Dr. Thomas Princen has written an utterly devastating account of the human framing of environmental problems, in that after I read it I felt devastated at the loss of three days and countless brain cells.

More seriously: Princen accurately identifies a number of societal problems but poorly balances his critiques such that they feel morally disorganized and inconsistent. He deliberately avoids quoting strong opposing arguments, favoring instead italicized straw man quotes which he feels sum up consumer ideologies. As a result, he misses crucial overlaps in multiple orthagonal philosophies that could draw people from different intellectual niches into cooperation on these environmental issues.

The book reads as an exercise in in-group creation for a green-identified upper middle class already comfortable in their moral superiority. Its metaphors are confusing and, on occasion, lazy. Its conclusions give no clear paths forward to the communities Princen idealizes. Frequently, intriguing points are raised seemingly by accident, then glossed over in favor of repetition. The writing style is list-like, hackneyed, and vague.

Dr. Princen writes, "This book is also for those who have had enough documentation." If you've had enough documentation, you should stop reading altogether. This book has effectively excluded its own audience. Leave it on the shelf.
Treading Softly: Paths to Ecological Order download epub
Author: Thomas Princen
ISBN: 0262014173
Category: Engineering & Transportation
Subcategory: Engineering
Language: English
Publisher: The MIT Press (February 19, 2010)
Pages: 224 pages