Sustainability, Human Ecology, and the Collapse of Complex Societies

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This book provides an overview and generalized picture of the evolution of human environmental economy. This book outlines the history of how hominids have altered and used the environment over the past 5 million years, with the first part comprising a general survey to set the stage for the study of the role of forest fires in human ecology and the second part discussing the history of complex societies and the concept of sustainable society. In addition, this work also provides a review of the general literature on economic anthropology covering the efforts of a number of scientists such as Creighton Gabel, Marshall Sahlins and Raymond Firth to John Clammer, Susana Narotzky, C.A.Gregory, and Mary Douglas.

This book also covers the idea of forest fires as a biological concept as well as a popular image driving ideas and public policy. It presents a study of how forest and wild fires differ in the ethnohistorical literature and provides a cross-cultural and historic framework for these concepts.


“This is a book that resituates economic anthropology squarely at the center of our most pressing contemporary issues, and does so in a way that forces us to rethink our history, our future and our perennial relationship to the environment that ultimately sustains us and respect for which is the only basis for the sustainability of any form of human life and civilization.” – (From the Preface) John Clammer, Sophia University, Tokyo

Table of Contents

List of Figures
List of Tables
Part I Anthropology and Economics: A Review
1. Anthropology and the Cosmology of a Modern Economics
2. Wants, Needs and the Question of Surplus vs. Wealth
3. Complexity and Stability or Stagnation: Declining Returns and the Business Cycle
4. Wealth, Consumption, Quality of Life and Standard of Living
5. The Great Debate: Economists and Anthropologists: The Market and Society, Continued
Part II. Introduction to Hominid Economics
6. Introduction
7. Forest Fires, Origins and Myths
8. Traditional Peoples and Fire
9. Climate and Fire, Assessing Time’s Arrow and the Antiquity of Anthropogenic Fire
10. Forest Management in Modern and Traditional Society
11. The Degraded Environment and Homo Sapiens
12. Co-evolutionary Processes and Environmental Exploitation
13. Makeup and Nature of Forests: Fire-Adapted Species vs. ‘Old Growth’
14. Determining Fire History: Fire Scars, Fire Histories and Thermal Alteration
15. Insects, Biomass Reduction and Pesticides
16. Conclusion: Forests and The Future of Man
Part III Cycles of Growth and Collapse versus the Possibility of Sustainable Societies
17. Introduction
18. The Problem of Population and the Nature of Human Society
19. Consumerism and Sustainability: Japan as an Example
20. The Evolution of Modern Japan and its Transformation
Part IV The Role of Ideology and Religious Precepts in the Containment and Change of Society: A Modernist View
21. Ideology and Religious Precepts and Motivations: Why People Work
22. Fundamentalism versus Globalism
Part V Conclusion

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