Selling Out - Book Cover


Civilization is flirting with the earth’s sixth extinction by putting our lifestyles ahead of sound stewardship of all the essential systems on which we depend for life.  Climate change, shortages of potable water, deforestation, destruction of the oceans, loss of biodiversity all result from our obsessive need to consume well beyond what we really need.  Our lifestyle has been built on the delusion that there were no urgent constraints on unsustainable growth and that it would be foolish to be alarmed by the accelerating threats to the health of the planet and its inhabitants.

Governments in the industrialized countries to varying degrees, but particularly in North America, have firmly established that economic growth is the major factor in solving economic and social weaknesses.  The problem lies in the fact that growth is defined in extremely narrow terms only measuring the money value of economic transactions.  Education, healthcare, distribution of wealth and damage to the environment and other quality of life indicators are not factored into the equation.  In fact, on considering the quality of life factors in the richest country in the world, the United States, it becomes clear that there is little correlation between growth and the well-being of the citizenry.  For example, the United States has the second highest poverty rate among the OECD (30 countries in Europe, Canada and the U.S.) countries.

A second major problem in using growth as the major measure of quality of life is the camouflaging of the much skewed distribution of wealth in the U.S. where only the wealthy have benefited from growth since 1970.  Measures of poverty and unemployment are also extremely flawed contributing to the false perception of a healthy economic system.

A third and possibly fatal flaw in the use of growth is that there is no distinction between sustainable and unsustainable growth.  Depletion of resources, toxins in the environment, deforestation, climate change, the gradual disappearance of potable water and a myriad of other environmental problems are completely excluded from calculating the social and economic health of the nation.  Not distinguishing between the two types of growth only benefits the wealthy and big corporations who have externalized their costs so that others pay the price through cheap labor or exposure to dangerous chemicals or through passing the costs onto future generations.

In this hard-hitting, no-holds-barred investigation of the consequences of unsustainable growth, the authors explore the history behind unsustainable growth, the impact on people in North America today, the impact on the planet, the misleading and flawed measures of economic progress and how to create a sustainable society.  Either we adapt and change our lifestyles on our terms or calamities will force us to change on nature’s terms.

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