Utah Professor Part Of Global Chorus On Sustainability

Dec 16, 2014

The thoughts of one Utah professor will now be paired with the likes of Hawking, Goodall and Gorbachev in a new conversation about global sustainability. 

Dr. Joseph Tainter, who works in the area of environmental sustainability, is honored by having a statement included in a new international anthology Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet.
Credit usu.edu

Dr. Joseph Tainter of Utah State University was asked to contribute to Global Chorus, a 365-statement compilation by Todd MacLean that brings together thoughts of leading minds on how to solve environmental problems facing the earth and human species.

Tainter said he was chosen to contribute because MacLean wanted the perspective of a variety of writers.

“My work for the last 20 years has focused primarily on issues of sustainability, and collapse and sustainability are opposite sides of a coin; they really go together, you have to consider them together. So, I think that’s probably why he asked me to contribute to it,” Tainter said.

"Sustainability really requires us to recognize our own limitations in how we think and develop the ability to think more broadly," Tainter said.

Tainter began his career as an archeologist studying the collapse of ancient societies. He said he realized early in his career that what he was learning was not only about ancient societies, but contemporary ones as well. This realization led him to author “The Collapse of Complex Societies.” His work overviews the breakdown of two dozen civilizations and produces a new theory about the reason for societal collapse—increasing complexity and costliness makes societies weak and vulnerable to collapse.

Tainter said his contribution to Global Chorus forwards this theory, that sustainability requires people to think about how our actions affect the world and how things on a global level affect us.

“In our evolution as a species, we never developed the ability to think broadly in time and space because our ancestors never encountered conditions that required it,” Tainter said. “So, sustainability really requires us to recognize our own limitations in how we think and develop the ability to think more broadly.”

Global Chorus has sold out of its initial print run of 5,000 copies after releasing in early November. The book is now in the process of its second printing.