Economic Growth and Sustainability

Economic Growth and Sustainability : Systems Thinking for a Complex World

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How to sustain our world for future generations has perplexed us for centuries. We have reached a crossroads: we may choose the rocky path of responsibility or continue on the paved road of excess that promises hardship for our progeny. Independent efforts to resolve isolated issues are inadequate. Different from these efforts and from other books on the topic, this book uses systems thinking to understand the dominant forces that are shaping our hope for sustainability. It first describes a mental model - the bubble that holds our beliefs - that emerges from preponderant world views and explains current global trends. The model emphasizes economic growth and drives behavior toward short-term and self-motivated outcomes that thwart sustainability. The book then weaves statistical trends into a system diagram and shows how the economic, environmental, and societal contributors of sustainability interact. From this holistic perspective, it finds leverage points where actions can be most effective and combines eight areas of intervention into an integrated plan. By emphasizing both individual and collective actions, it addresses the conundrum of how to blend human nature with sustainability. Finally, it identifies primary three lessons we can learn by applying systems thinking to sustainability. Its metaphor-rich and accessible style makes the complex topic approachable and allows the reader to appreciate the intricate balance required to sustain life on Earth.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 228 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 11.94mm | 320g
  • Academic Press Inc
  • San Diego, United States
  • English
  • colour illustrations
  • 0128022043
  • 9780128022047
  • 2,117,936

Table of contents

CHAPTER 1: The Secret's in the Overlap - Sustainability as an Integrated System

CHAPTER 2: Living in a Bubble - A Mental Model of How the World Works

CHAPTER 3: The Ant Who Lives Forever - A Systems Interpretation of Our Mental Model

CHAPTER 4: Addicted to Growth - Economic Growth Promises Happiness and Well-Being

CHAPTER 5: Two Faces of Happiness - Instant Gratification vs. Sustainable Well-Being

CHAPTER 6: The Bubble Bursts - Population and Pollution Become Our Concern

CHAPTER 7: Applying the Brakes - Factors That Limit Growth

CHAPTER 8: The `I's Have It - A Systems View of Sustainability

CHAPTER 9: Creating Balance - Effective Interventions

CHAPTER 10: Pieces of the Puzzle Level I - Paradigm Shifts

CHAPTER 11: Pieces of the Puzzle Level II - Structural Changes

CHAPTER 12: Pieces of the Puzzle Level III - Transition to the Future

CHAPTER 13: From Bud to Blossom - Nurturing Sustainable Stewardship

CHAPTER 14: The Global Commons and the Uncommon Globe - System Insights and Conclusions
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Review Text

"There are many books on systems thinking and many on sustainability BUT none to my knowledge that brings them together. This book brings these two topics together in a unique and refreshing manner." --David Sundaram, The University of Auckland

"Karen Higgins makes use of system thinking to explain the many linkages and interactions within a globally needed sustainable development. Reflecting her explanation about environmental damage, economy and society (mainly caused by growth) with causal loop diagrams and illustrative examples without losing the scientific background makes the book a must to read. I'll look forward to using the book in class." --René Scheumann, Technische Universität Berlin

"The author analyses the challenges posed by the sustainability concept from a new perspective. A lot of literature has been written on sustainability, but this book shows an innovative path to reach a sustainable development by 'blending the two faces of happiness: instant gratification vs. sustainable well-being.'" -Marzia Traverso, Technische Universität Berlin
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Review quote

"There are many books on systems thinking and many on sustainability BUT none to my knowledge that brings them together. This book brings these two topics together in a unique and refreshing manner." --David Sundaram, The University of Auckland

"Karen Higgins makes use of system thinking to explain the many linkages and interactions within a globally needed sustainable development. Reflecting her explanation about environmental damage, economy and society (mainly caused by growth) with causal loop diagrams and illustrative examples without losing the scientific background makes the book a must to read. I'll look forward to using the book in class." --Rene Scheumann, Technische Universitat Berlin

"The author analyses the challenges posed by the sustainability concept from a new perspective. A lot of literature has been written on sustainability, but this book shows an innovative path to reach a sustainable development by `blending the two faces of happiness: instant gratification vs. sustainable well-being.'" -Marzia Traverso, Technische Universitat Berlin
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About Karen L. Higgins

Dr. Karen Higgins has a B.S. in Mathematics, M.S. in Electrical Engineering, and an MBA and PhD in Executive Management. She has extensive experience in executive leadership and in leading research and engineering teams. Throughout her 32-year career with the Naval Air Warfare Center, Weapons Division at China Lake and Pt. Mugu, California she held technical, functional, project and executive management positions for efforts that integrate state-of-the-art and commonly-used weapons systems onto some of the newest jet fighter aircraft. As a member of the Senior Executive Service, she was one of the most senior civilians within the U.S. Department of Defense. In her Executive Director and Director for Research and Engineering roles, she had responsibility for a $1B budget and over 5,000 employees. She has received the highest civilian awards for her services to the Navy and the Department of Defense. As President of ELAN Leadership Concepts, Dr. Higgins serves as a leadership consultant for government and industry. She is an adjunct professor at Claremont Graduate University, where she teaches Project Management, Systems Thinking, and Morality & Leadership. She enjoys her grandchildren, practices yoga, does research, and writes. Her recent book, Financial Whirlpools (2013), analyzes the financial crisis of 2008-2009 using a systems perspective. Her second book, Economic Growth and Sustainability (in print, 2014), investigates the relationship among Economy, Environment and Society also using a systems perspective. On a personal note, she enjoys ballroom dancing and "loves, loves, loves" the LA Clippers! Affiliations: Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, CA, USA (Adjunct Professor) ELAN Leadership Concepts, Ridgecrest, CA, USA (President) Effective Edge, Austin TX, USA (Performance Catalyst) Personal website: http://www.systems-sense.com Expertise Executive leadership, project management, systems thinking, sustainability, ethics, interpersonal communication, culture shaping
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