Pembroke Fellow Dr Paul Warde has recently published his book ‘The Invention of Sustainability: Nature and Destiny, c. 1500 – 1870‘.
Sustainability, the idea that economic growth and development might destroy its own foundations, is one of the defining political problems of our time. Paul Warde’s ground breaking study traces this problem back to the hopes and anxieties raised by the development of states, empires and science from the 16th to the 19th centuries. He shows how ideas of sustainability were closely linked to projects for growth that wove together aspirations for political power, for economic development and agricultural improvement, with ideas about forestry, climate, and the sciences of the soil and of life itself. The book sets out how new knowledge and metrics led people to imagine both new horizons for progress, but also the possibility of collapse. In the nineteenth century, anxieties about sustainability proliferated in debates about contemporary and historical empires and the American frontier. Then as now, ideas of sustainability were closely linked to opinions about what made a good society. The fear of progress undoing itself confronted society with finding ways to live with and manage nature.
Blurb and Photo provided by Dr Paul Warde