Terra Nova

Terra Nova: The new world after oil, cars, and suburbs by Eric W. Sanderson (Abrams, 2013).

Like The Transition Handbook, this book begins with the premise that oil is running out and thus the suburban car culture supported by oil is doomed. Sanderson take a slightly different tack at this point in terms of strategy.  Rather than focus on people and what they can achieve locally, Sanderson believes that the free market by itself can cause change.  He feels that simply changing economic incentives will result in people doing what needs to be done. As a conservation biologist, he sees the economy as groups of ecological systems. The current systems do not attach a market value to the natural resources that go into systems and the waste that comes out. Therefore, he suggests fixing “gate duties” on both ends that take into account the ecological cost of using natural resources and disposing of waste into the environment. This seems perfectly reasonable as an abstract idea, but I predict extreme difficulty in getting the current political structure to implement it. There is also the danger of unintended consequences, which always seem to occur when you try to manipulate people with economic incentives.

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