OSWEGO — SUNY Oswego sociology chair Tim Delaney and co-author Tim Madigan of St. John Fisher College’s philosophy department take on some of today’s most difficult socio-philosophical issues — overpopulation, biodiversity and climate change — in a new book titled “Beyond Sustainability: A Thriving Environment.”
The 236-page softcover book from McFarland & Co. makes the case for a heightened level of cooperation among individuals, corporations and groups to stave off the next mass extinction, which the authors, biologists and other theorists say may already be in progress and accelerating due to humanity’s failed stewardship of the planet.
“The environment is already compromised,” Delaney said. “Why would you want to ‘sustain’ that? We need to move beyond that notion to ‘thrivability.’ Thrivability is realizing we can’t just try to maintain — we have to change our behaviors dramatically.”
Delaney said he and Madigan — who have teamed on an earlier book about environmental sustainability and another on the sociology of sports — support sincere sustainability efforts, but urge embracing new ways of thinking about the interconnectedness of ecosystems, people and governments now and in ensuing generations.
The co-authors were among scholars at the 2011 Conference on Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Societal Sustainability in Hamilton, New Zealand. They noted in the book’s preface the deep-rooted sense of guardianship New Zealand’s native Maori show in their intimately natural way of life.
“One thing you learn quickly in rural New Zealand is everything is considered sacred, and maybe that is the way all people should treat the environment, as sacred,” they wrote.
The co-authors both have begun teaching courses in environmental ethics and stewardship, citing education and environmental activism as prime movers for the culture shift they said needs to happen away from petrochemicals, plastics, harmful agricultural practices, deforestation, food waste and other factors they believe are compounding nature’s own forces moving Earth toward potential mass extinction.
“Sustainability is a great start — at least we are doing something,” Delaney said. “But we need to go beyond it.”