Patricia DeMarco Ph.D.

"Live in harmony with nature."


Pathways to Our Sustainable Future: A Global Perspective from Pittsburgh”

A New Book About Empowerment and Hope

Available for order from University of Pittsburgh Press.

and on Amazon

Author Interviews and Reviews:

Next Pittsburgh September 6, 2018 Author Interview with Bill O’Toole: “Which Pittsburgh Community Is Leading the way on Going Green?”

Podcast of my March 18, 2018 interview with Michael T. Thomas on “The GreenPreneur Show” WEON 1690 AM on I-Hart Radio in Chicago; “Fossil Fuel Free Cities”

Listen to the Author Interview on The Union Edge Radio

Author Interview with Bill O’Driscoll Of The City Paper

Kara Holsopple interview with the Author on Allegheny Front

A short video made for The New York Society for Ethical Culture in New York, November 30, 2017.

What Readers are Saying:

 “Patricia DeMarco has been a tireless advocate of sustainability in the City of Pittsburgh for many years. Through the leadership and guidance she exemplifies, Pittsburgh has become a model for urban centers everywhere in creating sustainable practices for present and future generations. This book serves as an outstanding guide to successful public and private partnerships thet can lead these efforts going forward.”
Mayor William Peduto, City of Pittsburgh

Sustainable Sewickley Book Club

I want to let you know how much everyone enjoyed your book Pathways To Our Sustainable Future: A Global Perspective From Pittsburgh at our Sustainable Sewickley book discussion. We appreciated the history of area industrial pollution and the incredible stories of people who have improved the air quality and the environment in Pittsburgh and who are moving the area from “awareness to action.” We also liked that you presented the information sprinkled with inspirational quotes, especially those of Rachel Carson. It was nice to read a little about Rachel Carson, as well.

We especially liked that you started with the premise that, “The capacity to feel compassion for nonhuman living things or even other humans not in immediate proximity, has eroded in the urban, material-focused industrial societies of developed countries. Climate change poses intrinsic ethical and moral questions for diverse faith communities, based on a common concern for future generations and the viability of the natural world. If we awaken to our true consciousness, there will be change in our collective consciousness.” It is important for people to understand why some people do not care enough about the environment, and why it is so important. It is also important to raise this discussion to a higher understanding of humanity and our purpose here on earth. (thank you for that).

Other comments from our group included the nice layout of the book with it’s division into three parts, and the terrific resources you included like the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database app. Personally, because of your book, I have started following a few new groups on social media including Women for a Healthy Environment and MomsRising

I think that people in the Pittsburgh area can get pretty depressed when they think about our poor air quality and the gas industry activities that are happening all around us in Pennsylvania, but your book really gave us a message of empowerment and hope for the future. Thank you for writing it, and thank you for sharing your knowledge, insights, and your call to “preserve the living earth” with the world.

We look forward to hearing you speak on 6/14.
All the Best,
Suzanne Watters
co-chair of SHAPE & 10 Actions Sewickley & Sustainable Sewickley
Adjunct Professor at Robert Morris University.

Pathways to Our Sustainable Future – A Global Perspective from Pittsburgh Abstract:

Pittsburgh, the Steel City, retains the foundations of prowess that led the Industrial Revolution. The struggle for workers’ rights and pollution control rose from the consciousness of the people in calls for justice and equity. Today, the movement for more sustainable practices is rising in Pittsburgh. Against a backdrop of Marcellus shale gas development, initiatives emerge for a sustainable and resilient response to the climate change and pollution challenges of the 21st century. People, institutions, communities and corporations at the heart of Pittsburgh are leading the way to a more sustainable future.

Pathways to a Sustainable Future- A Perspective from Pittsburgh” frames the struggle in the context of an ethical argument for preserving the living Earth. Examining the experience of a single city with all of its complexities allows a deeper understanding of the challenges and opportunities inherent in adapting to a changing world. Choices for more sustainable pathways for the future include transforming the energy system, restoring fertile ground, and preventing pollution through green chemistry production. Throughout the book, case studies responding to ethical challenges give specific examples of successful ways forward. Inspired by Rachel Carson’s voice of precaution in protecting the Earth, this is a book about empowerment and hope.

(Excerpt from the Introduction)

Earth bears the scars from 150 years of industrialization. Climate change compromises the life support system of all oxygen breathing, fresh water-dependent organisms, including humans.[i] Global contamination from synthetic chemicals and their by-products, especially those with endocrine-disrupting properties, threaten the health of creatures throughout the biosphere.[ii] To transition quickly from an economy that depends on fossil material – oil, gas and coal, synthetic chemicals – to a system that operates on a renewable and sustainable base requires a commitment to the well-being of future generations. In the 21st century, the cumulative consequences of human behavior now threaten the viability of all life on earth. The window of opportunity to change direction may be very narrow, the remaining time to take a corrective course, very brief.

The challenges manifest today present a daunting complex of causes and effects across all aspects of society, but an examination of the progress of a single important city may provide insight for a way forward. Pittsburgh Pennsylvania’s steel, glass, metals, and chemical industries built the nation with a flourishing spirit of innovation, invention and grit. Today Pittsburgh stands at an intersection between the historic fossil industry base and the potential for a renewable and sustainable future. Active struggle from differing perspectives and motives fuels the debate about how best to move forward, yet out of this struggle a new vision for Pittsburgh has emerged, one built on sustainability and resilience principles, respect for the diversity of cultures, and precaution in preserving its natural resources.

Pathways to a Sustainable Future shows how Pittsburgh is addressing the issues of climate change and global pollution. The solutions are not necessarily found in technology alone. Rather, the pathways forward are based on the ethical and moral basis for making choices about the future. The first part of the book addresses the essential connection between people and the earth, its living systems, and how people can re-connect with the natural world. The second part addresses some innovations to providing energy, food and materials. It explores the policies embedded in the current system and some of the new directions to achieve change. The third part examines the social and cultural impediments to change and the means to address them. This is a book of empowerment, inspired by Rachel Carson whose one voice rose in challenge to a system that presented danger to living systems and moved thousands to respond. The situation facing humanity today calls for a unified response in defense of the Earth, for the sake of the children of the 21st century.

When we review the history of mankind in relation to the earth we cannot help feeling somewhat discouraged, for that history is for the most part [one] of … despoiling of the soil, forests, waters and all the rest of the earth’s resources. We have acquired technical skills on a scale undreamed of even a generation ago. We can do dramatic things and we can do them quickly; by the time damaging side effects are apparent it is     often too late, or impossible, to reverse our actions.  Rachel  Carson[i]

It is time to act. Examining the Pittsburgh story can give some insights to the problems and the possibilities for a sustainable future.


[i] Statement of Rachel Carson Before the Subcommittee on Reorganization and International Organizations of the Committee on Government Operations. Environmental Hazards, Control of Pesticides and other Chemical Poisons. June 4, 1963. Accessed July 10, 2013.

[i] Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Fourth Assessment Report. 2007. Figure 2.1. p. 36.

[ii] Åke Bergman, Jerrold J. Heindel, Susan Jobling, Karen A. Kidd and R. Thomas Zoeller. United Nations Environment Programme Report. “State of the Science of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals – 2012” Accessed May 10, 2015.

The author gratefully acknowledges support of The Pittsburgh Foundation W. Clyde and Ida Mae Thurman Fund, hosted through Carnegie Mellon University, Institute for Green Sciences.

Research Assistance provided by Marie Fechik-Kirk.

Editor- Sandra Crooms, University of Pittsburgh Press

Copy Editor, Portia K. Weston

Original art and illustration provided by Emily DeMarco

Audio recording of interviews and roundtable focus groups by Steven M. Smith


Pathways to A Sustainable Future:

A Perspective from Pittsburgh

Author: Patricia M. DeMarco, Ph.D.

Foreword– Linda J. Lear, Ph.D.



Part One. Connecting to the Living Earth

Chapter One. The Voice of the Earth

Chapter Two. Preserving the Living Earth

Chapter Three. Inspiring a Sense of Wonder

Part Two. Choosing Sustainable Pathways

Chapter Four. Transforming the Energy System

Chapter Five. Preserving Fertile Ground

Chapter Six. Preventing Pollution

Part Three. Empowering Change

Chapter Seven. Shared Vision- Awareness to Action

Chapter Eight. New Economic Paradigms

Chapter Nine. Building Resilient Cities

Conclusion: The Power of Joined Voices


Presentations and Speeches:

Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences 2015

A speech based on Chapter 8- was presented at the AESS Conference in San Diego, CA June 26, 2015.  Titled: “Three Institutional Barriers to Moving toward Sustainable Practices in Energy, Food and Chemical Products”  the presentation presented results of research conducted for this chapter.

“Rachel Carson’s Environmental Ethic- A Guide for Global Systems Decision Making” has been published in the International Journal of Cleaner Production. This peer-reviewed international journal published a special issue addressing sustainability.

DeMarco, Patricia M. “Rachel Carson’s Environmental Ethic- A Guide for Global Systems Decision Making.” Journal of Cleaner Production 140(2017) 127-133.

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