Worldwatch Institute

State of the World 2010: Transforming Cultures


Like a tsunami, consumerism has engulfed human cultures and Earth’s ecosystems. Left unaddressed, we risk global disaster. But if we channel this wave, intentionally transforming our cultures to center on sustainability, we will not only prevent catastrophe, but may usher in an era of sustainability—one that allows all people to thrive while protecting, even restoring, Earth.

In State of the World 2010, sixty renowned researchers and practitioners describe how we can harness the world’s leading institutions—education, the media, business, governments, traditions, and social movements—to reorient cultures toward sustainability.

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About State of the World Series

Worldwatch`s flagship publication, State of the World, has educated a broad audience of students, journalists, policymakers, and concerned citizens about trends in sustainable development for a quarter century. The book has been published in 36 languages, and over the years it has authoritatively assessed issues ranging from population, energy, and agriculture to materials use, health, and trade policy. Topics are covered from a global perspective, with an emphasis on innovation and problem-solving. State of the World is recognized as a classic of environmental literature, having attracted luminaries from Kofi Annan to Mikhail Gorbachev to write forewords for the book. News media, policymakers, and NGOs worldwide cite the book for its cutting-edge analysis, reliability, and careful documentation of its arguments, all marshaled to speed the global transition to a sustainable world.


“This is the definitive guide to culture and sustainability…If you’re involved in transforming our world for the better, it is essential reading!”
--Tim Jackson, author of Prosperity Without Growth

"State of the World 2010: Transforming Cultures is breaking new ground. We are paying a high price for ignoring the issues of consumption and consumerism for so long. What a wonderful book this is to guide us into the years ahead." 
-- Gus Speth, author of The Bridge at the Edge of the World: Capitalism, the Environment, and Crossing from Crisis to Sustainability

"Worldwatch has taken on an ambitious agenda in this volume. No generation in history has achieved a cultural transformation as sweeping as the one called for here…it is hard not to be impressed with the book’s boldness "
—Muhammad Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank


"If we continue to think of ourselves mostly as consumers, it’s going to be very hard to bring our environmental troubles under control. But it’s also going to be very hard to live the rounded and joyful lives that could be ours. This is a subversive volume in all the best ways!"
—Bill McKibben, author of Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet


"This year’s State of the World report is a cultural mindbomb exploding with devastating force. I hope it wakes a few people up ." 
—Kalle Lasn, Editor of Adbusters magazine

Table of Contents



Muhammad Yunus, Founder, Grameen Bank, and 2006 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate


Christopher Flavin, President, Worldwatch Institute

State of the World: A Year in Review

Lisa Mastny with Valentina Agostinelli



Erik Assadourian



Engaging Religions to Shape Worldviews

Gary Gardner

Ritual and Taboo as Ecological Guardians

Gary Gardner

Environmentally Sustainable Childbearing

Robert Engelman

Elders: A Cultural Resource for Promoting Sustainable Development

Judi Aubel

From Agriculture to Permaculture

Albert Bates and Toby Hemenway



Early Childhood Education to Transform Cultures for Sustainability

Ingrid Pramling Samuelsson and Yoshie Kaga

Commercialism in Children’s Lives

Susan Linn

Rethinking School Food: The Power of the Public Plate

Kevin Morgan and Roberta Sonnino

What Is Higher Education for Now?

David W. Orr



Adapting Institutions for Life in a Full World

Robert Costanza, Joshua Farley, and Ida Kubiszewski

Sustainable Work Schedules for All

Juliet Schor

Changing Business Cultures from Within

Ray Anderson, Mona Amodeo, and Jim Hartzfeld

Social Entrepreneurs: Innovating Toward Sustainability

Johanna Mair and Kate Ganly

Relocalizing Business

Michael H. Shuman



Editing Out Unsustainable Behavior

Michael Maniates

Broadening the Understanding of Security

Michael Renner

Building the Cities of the Future

Peter Newman

Reinventing Health Care: From Panacea to Hygeia

Walter Bortz

Earth Jurisprudence: From Colonization to Participation

Cormac Cullinan



From Selling Soap to Selling Sustainability: Social Marketing

Jonah Sachs and Susan Finkelpearl

Media Literacy, Citizenship, and Sustainability

Robin Andersen and Pamela Miller

Music: Using Education and Entertainment to Motivate Change

Amy Han



Reducing Work Time as a Path to Sustainability

John de Graaf

Inspiring People to See That Less Is More

Cecile Andrews and Wanda Urbanska

Ecovillages and the Transformation of Values

Jonathan Dawson





1. Do High Consumption Levels Improve Human Well-being? by Erik Assadourian

2. The Essential Role of Cultural Pioneers, by Erik Assadourian

3. A Global Ecological Ethic, by Patrick Curry

4. Deepening Perceptions of Time, by Alexander Rose

5. Dietary Norms That Heal People and the Planet, by Erik Assadourian and Eddie Kasner

6. Sustainability and the Human-Nature Relationship, by Almut Beringer

7. Toy Libraries, by Lucie Ozanne and Julie Ozanne

8. Transformation of the California Academy of Sciences, by Gregory C. Farrington

9. Unresolved Questions in Environmental Education, by David C. Orr

10. Maximizing the Value of Professional Schools, by Erik Assadourian

11. A New Focus for Scientists: How Cultures Change, by Paul R. Ehrlich and Anne H. Ehrlich

12. The Folly of Infinite Growth on a Finite Planet, by Øystein Dahle

13. Upgrading the Corporate Charter, by Kevin Green and Erik Assadourian

14. Cradle to Cradle: Adapting Production to Nature’s Model,

by William McDonough and Michael Braungart

15. A Carbon Index for the Financial Market, by Eduardo Athayde

16. The U.N. Marrakech Process on Sustainable Consumption and Production,

by Stefanie Bowles

17. Making Social Welfare Programs Sustainable, by Kevin Green and Erik Assadourian

18. Principles of Earth Jurisprudence, by Cormac Cullinan

19. The Evolving Role of Environmental Journalism in India, by Raj Chengappa

20. Lights, Camera, Ecological Consciousness, by Yann Arthus-Bertrand

21. Art for Earth’s Sake, by Satish Kumar

22. Growing a Degrowth Movement, by Serge Latouche

23. The Slow Food Movement, by Helene Gallis

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