A compelling and persuasive look at the social transformations needed to cope with our environmental crises.
As this major German bestseller reports, our world is at a tipping point, and we feel it every day. On the one hand, we have never been so well off; on the other hand, we find destruction and crisis everywhere we look. Whether throughout the environment or within society, our systems are under stress.
In this book, Maja Göpel, co-founder of the Scientists for Future initiative and a former secretary-general of the German Advisory Council on Global Change, explains that this new reality didn’t just happen overnight, but rather is a result of our continuous actions—actions propelled by principles and beliefs, which have shaped us as a society over generations. We do not solely face an environmental crisis, but also a social one. It’s time to question our principles, set new goals, and re-evaluate our priorities. It’s time to rethink our world, because if we want to keep our livelihoods, we need to find a way of living without draining our planet any further. We need a fair distribution of wealth and a way to reconcile the social with the ecological.
Critical, yet full of encouragement, Maja Göpel chooses surprising and enlightening examples to illustrate how we can leave behind our familiar ways of living to achieve a better future. With that, she invites us to look at this future we are shaping every day in a new and completely different way.
Dr Maja Göpel is a political economist and an important voice for a sustainable transformation of society, working at the intersection of the economy, politics, and society. From 2017 to 2020, she was secretary-general of the German Advisory Council on Global Change, and in 2019 was appointed honorary professor at the Leuphana University of Lüneburg. She is a member of the Club of Rome, the World Future Council, the Balaton Group, the German government’s Bioeconomy Council, and a co-founder of the Scientists for Future network.
David Shaw works as a journalist for Germany’s international broadcaster, Deutsche Welle, as well as translating from several languages, including German, Dutch, Russian, and French. He lives in Berlin.
“[A]ccording to German political economist Maja Göpel, the days of “business as usual” are over. There is a new reality caught in the phrase “overshoot day”—when the demand for ecological resources and services exceeds what the earth can give. We’re already there and, among other things, progress and capitalism as we’ve known them need to be reconfigured to create a fairer, less exploitative society. This sounds like a dire read, but it’s strangely upbeat and, using often telling examples, Göpel calmly makes her dramatic point.”
—Steven Carroll, The Sydney Morning Herald
“After so much fake information born of post-factual hoaxes, this level-headedly argued book by economist Maja Göpel for a reform of our economic system is an insanely soothing read … Maja Göpel’s pleasantly calmly written book helps to understand this new reality.”
—Denis Scheck, ARD broadcasting service
“Maja Göpel’s book is a successful attempt to pack human history from the evolution of Homo sapiens to Greta Thunberg, economic theory from Adam Smith to Thomas Piketty, environmental research and system criticism into a concise space in an entertaining read—and she does it well.”
—Jessica von Blazekovic, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
“At some point, the central ideas of the English thought leaders were taken out of context and elevated to “supposed universal laws of economics”, according to Göpel’s thesis. Göpel’s invitation is to see through the laws of this “illusory world” and to question them. Like a patient teacher, she tries to steer readers from chapter to chapter: with repetitions (“You remember …”) and interposed questions (“How does that sound to you?”) as well as catchy examples by means of which the problems of the neoliberal world quickly become obvious. A big plus in this context is the renunciation of the flood of numbers that is seemingly unavoidable in such books.”
—Robert Probst, Süddeutsche Zeitung
“Göpel explains things well. She is lucid, succinct, and avoids strident polemic. And she enforces her argument with compelling narratives.”
—Jane Goodall, The Conversation
“Her findings are precise, her book comes at the right time—a time when the consequences of climate change are just as unmistakable as the half-heartedness of politics. It is a forcefully presented plea for future-oriented thinking, “an invitation” that one wishes many would accept.”
—Ralph Gerstenberg, Deutschlandfunk Kultur
“A stirring blueprint for radical reforms to save the planet.”
—Andreas Bocher, Emma magazine
“The book of the hour.”
“Göpel rigorously analyzes traditional theories of economic growth, privatization, consumption, and the infallibility of ‘the market’ … she is skilfully bringing together ideas from psychology, economics, philosophy, science and history to create a highly readable interdisciplinary summary of the crisis at hand … Göpel reminds us that awareness is one of the first steps, and the knowledge and belief that business as usual is not an option can be a powerful place to start.”