“But where the danger lies, also grows the saving power”: Reflections on Exploitation and Sustainability


This article looks at how the discovery and storming of the Americas made not just this continent into a new world, but Europe too. All of the Old World’s worries about sustainability were brushed aside with the sudden availability of land in the New World. Yet, as the article demonstrates, the illusion of having sufficient space and sufficient resources was perhaps the tragedy of modern Western history. Talk of “sustainable development” must not just take account of those risks that humanity itself has created, and which have been around for millennia; it must also keep in mind the fact that the conditions under which we live are not enduring: it must include in its reflections the fragility of the system.

DOI: doi.org/10.5282/rcc/6286