Title: “Pathways to Our Sustainable Future: A Perspective from Pittsburgh“
Coming in 2017 from University of Pittsburgh Press
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. http://www.rachelcarsoncouncil.org/uploads/articles/RachelCarsonStatement4June1963.pdf Accessed July 10, 2013.
[i] Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Fourth Assessment Report. 2007. Figure 2.1. p. 36. http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/syr/ar4_syr.pdf
[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” http://www.unep.org 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.”