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Professor Gus Speth Releases Third Book in "American Crisis" Series

August 31, 2012

In his new book "America the Possible - Manifesto for a New Economy," Vermont Law School Professor Gus Speth looks at the troubles in which the United States now finds itself, charts a course through the despair and envisions what he calls "America the Possible."

In this third volume of his award-winning "American Crisis" series, Speth identifies a dozen features of the American political economy where transformative change is essential, and he explains how system change can come to America.

Excerpt from the preface:Image of Speth

"Like most Americans, I love this country. I love its boundless energy and spirited people, its natural beauty, its creativity in so many fields, its many gifts to the world, and the freedom and opportunity it has given me and others to write books like this one&mdasph;which is why on August 20, 2011, I became a jailbird.

"Along with sixty-five others, I was arrested in front of the White House protesting the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, all 1,700 miles of it intended to carry oil from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada, to the Gulf Coast to satisfy our country's insatiable thirst for oil. Our modest act of nonviolent civil disobedience landed us in the central cellblock of the District of Columbia jail for two nights.

"Some protesters were acting to stop the desecration of the North American land. My motivation was climate change: after more than thirty years of unsuccessfully advocating for government action to protect our planet's climate, I found myself at the end of my proverbial rope. Civil disobedience was my way of saying that America's economic and political system had failed us all. Having served as President Jimmy Carter's White House environmental adviser, helping to found two of our country's major environmental groups, leading the United Nations' largest program for international development, and serving as dean of Yale's environment school, I was once dubbed the 'ultimate insider' by TIME magazine. But my conclusion in August was and still is that working inside the system is insufficient. We have to step outside America's broken system of political economy and begin the difficult job of transforming it. As the slogan goes, 'system change, not climate change.'

"This book tells the story of how system change can come to America. At its heart is a vision of an attractive, pleasant, and successful America that is still within our power to realize by mid-century. In this America the Possible, our country will have rejoined the leading nations in realizing social justice and well-being, in building peace and real global security, and in sustaining our planet's environmental assets both domestically and globally. We will have reclaimed our democracy from what were once quite properly called the 'moneyed interests.' And we will have seen a deep transformation in our country's dominant values and culture.

"Now that is all very nice, you might be thinking, but how do we get there? I will endeavor in this book to chart a course to an America the Possible—a course from today's decline to tomorrow's rebirth..."

For a schedule of Speth's speaking events about the book, go to:

Speth joined the faculty at VLS in 2010 after a decade as dean of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Previously, he was administrator of the United Nations Development Programme and chair of the UN Development Group. Prior to his service at the U.N., he was founder and president of the World Resources Institute, professor of law at Georgetown University, chairman of the U.S. Council on Environmental Quality (Carter Administration) and senior attorney and co-founder of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

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