The life support systems of the planet, along with the life quality of most people living today are at risk due to a set of related problems: 1) global dependence on a carbon economy, 2) political pressures for unrealistic levels of economic growth, 3) the excesses and hidden costs of consumerism, and 4) the political power of global corporations over working conditions, social wellbeing, and governing institutions.
Most nations face a future of economic stagnation and political turbulence. Even if a return to earlier levels of growth were possible, continued depletion of the environment threatens the life support capacity of the planet. Scientists report that earth is undergoing a sixth great extinction of species. Whereas the other five were triggered by natural events, this one is created by the economy that has exceeded the limits of a finite planet.
The externalized costs of resource depletion and increasingly wicked problems of toxic waste and pollution all act as drags on future growth. If we seek to make the planet inhabitable in the future and secure reasonable levels of prosperity in the present, a number of basic problems must be addressed and solved.
This course examines those problems and explores ways in which more creative communication and more responsive politics can help address them.