Thursday, July 3, 2008
Making Peace with the Planet / Barry Commoner -- NY: Pantheon Books, 1990.
I first heard about Barry Commoner when he ran for president in 1980. He made what for me was the audacious but indisputable claim that the only way to avoid the environmental disaster caused by plastics was to stop producing it. This is the theme of Making Peace with the Planet. Commoner distinguishes the "ecosphere" from the "technosphere," or the natural world from the industrially constructed world and argues that the later is at war with the former. To end the war, we must gain social control over "the governance of production;" that is, the private control of production must yield to democratic control. Furthermore, production must be redesigned to avoid environmental damage from the start. Instead of this approach we have established "acceptable limits" to pollutants and more or less ineffective regulations. This has not solved our environmenal and ecological problems. Commoner's vision is radical in that it sees to the root of our problems and offers what is likely the only solution.