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  • Book
  • © 2013

State of the World 2013

Is Sustainability Still Possible?

  • State of the World 2013 is informed by the policy and research experience and international influence of the Worldwatch Institute and authoritative State of the World series

  • Contributors are renowned international experts in their fields, including David Orr, Annie Leonard, Juliet Schor, Robert Costanza, Herman Daly, and Joshua Farley

  • A must-read for those seeking authentic sustainability

Part of the book series: State of the World (STWO)

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Table of contents (34 chapters)

  1. Front Matter

    Pages i-xxi
  2. Beyond Sustainababble

    1. Beyond Sustainababble

      • Robert Engelman
      Pages 3-16
  3. The Sustainability Metric

    1. Front Matter

      Pages 17-18
    2. Getting to One-Planet Living

      • Jennie Moore, William E Rees
      Pages 39-50
    3. Sustaining Freshwater and Its Dependents

      • Sandra Postel
      Pages 51-62
    4. Sustainable Fisheries and Seas: Preventing Ecological Collapse

      • Antonia Sohns, Larry Crowder
      Pages 63-72
    5. Energy as Master Resource

      • Eric Zencey
      Pages 73-83
    6. Renewable Energy’s Natural Resource Impacts

      • Shakuntala Makhijani, Alexander Ochs
      Pages 84-98
    7. Conserving Nonrenewable Resources

      • Gary Gardner
      Pages 99-109
  4. Getting to True Sustainability

    1. Front Matter

      Pages 111-112
    2. Building a Sustainable and Desirable Economy-in-Society-in-Nature

      • Robert Costanza, Gar Alperovitz, Herman Daly, Joshua Farley, Carol Franco, Tim Jackson et al.
      Pages 126-142
    3. Corporate Reporting and Externalities

      • Jeff Hohensee
      Pages 154-160
    4. Keep Them in the Ground: Ending the Fossil Fuel Era

      • Thomas Princen, Jack P. Manno, Pamela Martin
      Pages 161-171
    5. Energy Efficiency in the Built Environment

      • Phillip Saieg
      Pages 184-189
    6. Agriculture: Growing Food—and Solutions

      • Danielle Nierenberg
      Pages 190-200

About this book

Every day, we are presented with a range of “sustainable” products and activities—from “green” cleaning supplies to carbon offsets—but with so much labeled as “sustainable,” the term has become essentially sustainababble, at best indicating a practice or product slightly less damaging than the conventional alternative. Is it time to abandon the concept altogether, or can we find an accurate way to measure sustainability? If so, how can we achieve it? And if not, how can we best prepare for the coming ecological decline?

In the latest edition of Worldwatch Institute’s State of the World series, scientists, policy experts, and thought leaders tackle these questions, attempting to restore meaning to sustainability as more than just a marketing tool. In State of the World 2013: Is Sustainability Still Possible?, experts define clear sustainability metrics and examine various policies and perspectives, including geoengineering, corporate transformation, and changes in agricultural policy, that could put us on the path to prosperity without diminishing the well-being of future generations. If these approaches fall short, the final chapters explore ways to prepare for drastic environmental change and resource depletion, such as strengthening democracy and societal resilience, protecting cultural heritage, and dealing with increased conflict and migration flows.

State of the World 2013 cuts through the rhetoric surrounding sustainability, offering a broad and realistic look at how close we are to fulfilling it today and which practices and policies will steer us in the right direction. This book will be especially useful for policymakers, environmental nonprofits, and students of environmental studies, sustainability, or economics.


  • Adaptation
  • Climate change
  • Mitigation
  • Sustainability
  • water policy

Editors and Affiliations

  • Worldwatch Institute, Washington, USA

    Worldwatch Institute

About the editor

Founded in 1974 by farmer and economist Lester Brown, Worldwatch was the first independent research institute devoted to the analysis of global environmental concerns. Worldwatch quickly became recognized by opinion leaders around the world for its accessible, fact-based analysis of critical global issues. Now under the leadership of population expert and author Robert Engelman, Worldwatch develops innovative solutions to intractable problems, emphasizing a blend of government leadership, private sector enterprise, and citizen action that can make a sustainable future a reality.

Bibliographic Information