Planet Dialectics

Explorations in Environment and Development

Wolfgang Sachs
With a Foreword by Susan George


In this classic text, Wolfgang Sachs, one of the world's leading post-development thinkers shows how the notion of 'sustainable development' is fundamentally flawed.

All effects of human action will inevitably be played out within our planet’s limits; any hope of infinity is an illusion. And yet, as Wolfgang Sachs warned almost twenty years ago, environmental concerns have been assimilated into the rhetoric, dynamics and power structures of development.

This classic collection of trenchant and elegant explorations addresses the crisis of the Western world’s relations with nature and social justice. Examining the notions of efficiency, speed, globalization and development, Sachs shows that sustainability, truly conceived, is incompatible with the worldwide rule of economism.

Planet Dialectics reveals that the Western development model is fundamentally at odds with both the quest for justice among the world’s people and the aspiration to reconcile humanity and nature.

Author Bio

Wolfgang Sachs is a researcher, writer and university teacher in the field of environment, development and globalization. His best-known works include the immensely influential Development Dictionary: A Guide to Knowledge as Power (Zed Books, 2010), which has been translated into numerous languages; Global Ecology: A New Arena of Political Conflict (Zed Books, 1993); Greening the North: A Post-Industrial Blueprint for Ecology and Equity (co-authored with Reinhard Loske and Manfred Linz, Zed Books, 1998); and Fair Future: Resource Conflicts, Security, and Global Justice (co-edited with Tilman Santarius, Zed Books, 2007).

Table of Contents

  • Foreword to the Critique Influence Change Edition - Susan George
  • Preface to the First Edition
  • Part I: The Archaeology of the Development Idea
    • 1. The Archaeology of the Development Idea
  • Part II: The Shaky Ground of Sustainability
    • 2. Global Ecology and the Shadow of 'Development'
    • 3. The Gospel of Global Efficiency
    • 4. Environment and Development: The Story of a Dangerous Liaison
    • 5. Sustainable Development: On the Political Anatomy of an Oxymoron
  • Part III: In the Image of the Planet
    • 6. One World - Many Worlds?
    • 7. The Blue Planet: On the Ambiguity of a Modern Icon
    • 8. Globalization and Sustainability
  • Part IV: Ecology and Equity in a Post-development Era
    • 9. Ecology, Justice and the End of Development
    • 10. The Two Meanings of Resource Productivity
    • 11. Speed Limits
    • 12. The Power of Limits: An Inquiry into New Models of Wealth


‘If you are not only concerned with the future of our planet but also with social justice, you have to read this book.’
Gilbert Rist, author of The History of Development and The Delusions of Economics

‘Wise words, crafted with loving care for people and the planet, even more relevant than when they were written a quarter century ago, unfortunately.’
Professor Richard Norgaard, University of California, Berkeley

‘Remains an essential read for anyone involved in the field of development. This book has never been more vital than today.’
Jonathan Ensor, Stockholm Environment Institute

‘Sachs elegantly reminds us that in the search for justice to people and planet we need to begin 'civilization change' by changing the rich, not the poor.’
Professor Julian Agyeman, Tufts University.

‘Still remarkably fresh and insightful, Planet Dialectics gives us a much needed critique of economics gone wrong.’
Camilla Toulmin, director of the International Institute for Environment and Development

‘Amazingly innovative in its perspective, unflinching in its analysis, and radical in its solutions, this book is a historic hallmark.’
Tilman Santarius, Germanwatch

‘Brings together insights from anthropology, history, economics, cultural studies and environmental science to show that the rapidly expanding global market economy is designed to benefit only the few... and will inevitably cause disastrous environmental overshoot... Planet Dialectics is an impressive book.’
David Mittler in Resurgence

‘A remarkable book... well written, full of food for thought... It should attract a wide readership among students dealing with development, environment, globalization and planning issues.’
Progress in Development Studies

‘Sachs’ ideas are dynamite.’
New Internationalist


Publication Date: 12 March 2015
248 pages

Product ISBNs: Paperback 2nd Edition: 9781783603404
eBook ePub 2nd Edition: 9781783603428
eBook PDF 2nd Edition: 9781783603411
eBook Kindle 2nd Edition: 9781783603435
Library Edition: 9781856497008

Previous Editions: Paperback 1st Edition: 9781856497015

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