The Growth of Trees – A Historical Perspective on Sustainability

How could alpine farmers in the Swiss village of Törbel survive over centuries in adverse conditions? Why did the Hohokam culture suddenly collapse after more than 1000 years? Looking back in history, did truly sustainable societies ever exist? 300 years ago Carl von Carlowitz the so called „father of the term sustainability” died. Why is it worthwhile to remember him today? Was the discovery of America, which gave us the sense and philosophy of a world without limits, perhaps not a blessing after all?

In his search for the history of sustainability, Christof Mauch discusses these and many more questions. Looking back at the historical relationship between humans and their environment may serve as a guide for the central political debates of today.

Christof Mauch is co-founder and Director of the Rachel Carson Center for environment and society. The RCE Munich is partnering with the Rachel Carson Center since 2012 in a sustainability lecture. The publication is available online here.