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The Power of Sustainable Thinking: How to Create a Positive Future for the Climate, The Planet, Your Organization and Your Life

Global warming is not, at its core, an energy, technology, or policy problem. It is the greatest failure of thought in human history. In his new book, Bob Doppelt shows that since the dawn of the industrial revolution people in the West have based their economic and social systems on fatally flawed beliefs and reasoning. People have thought that they could continually take resources from the Earth's crust and make them into goods and services for human use with little concern for the environmental or social impacts of those activities. People have also thought that the massive amounts of usually highly toxic waste produced by this system, including greenhouse gases, could be continually released back into the same environment that humans, and all other species on Earth, rely on for life without severe impacts. Our "Take-Make-Waste" thinking has increased atmospheric greenhouse gasses to dangerous levels and brought the world to the precipice of disaster. We have been blind to the ecological and social systems we are part of.

Doppelt says that global warming and today's other environmental, social, and economic problems therefore cannot be resolved merely through more efficient technologies or cap-and-trade policies. Fundamental changes in thinking and perspectives will be needed. Only after people begin to think sustainably will the clean energy technologies, and the policies needed to stabilize the climate become evident.

To think sustainably means shifting to what Doppelt calls a "Borrow-Use-Replenish" mind frame. This starts with the understanding that humans only temporarily borrow resources from nature, briefly use them as goods and services, and then must return them to the natural environment through a continuous circular process that is life on Earth. As you would with a precious item you borrow from a close friend, every step of the process must be taken with great care to ensure that no damage occurs to the environment or other people. In fact, you often want to return something you borrow in better shape than when you first got it. That perspective provides the core of sustainable thinking.

Using numerous examples from his personal life as well as people, business and government organizations he has worked with, The Power of Sustainable Thinking shows how our flawed thinking led to today's climate crisis. It outlines the core elements of a sustainable mind frame, including the ethics of sustainability. It describes in great detail the normal and predictable stages people, teams, and organizations go through whenever they make a fundamental change in their thinking and behavior. It then explains how change agents can use appropriate change mechanisms to help people and groups make the shift to sustainable thinking.