Daily Archives: February 8, 2018

The Myth of Progress: Toward a Sustainable Future: Tom Wessels

In this compelling and cogently argued book, Tom Wessels demonstrates how our current path toward progress, based on continual economic expansion and inefficient use of resources, runs absolutely contrary to three foundational scientific laws that govern all complex natural systems. It is a myth, he contends, that progress depends on a growing economy.

Wessels explains his theory with his three laws of sustainability: (1) the law of limits to growth, (2) the second law of thermodynamics, which exposes the dangers of increased energy consumption, and (3) the law of self-organization, which results in the marvelous diversity of such highly evolved systems as the human body and complex ecosystems. These laws, scientifically proven to sustain life in its myriad forms, have been cast aside since the eighteenth century, first by Western economists, political pragmatists, and governments attracted by the idea of unlimited growth, and more recently by a global economy dominated by large corporations, in which consolidation and oversimplification create large-scale inefficiencies in both material and energy usage.

Wessels makes scientific theory readily accessible by offering examples of how the laws of sustainability function in the complex systems we can observe in the natural world around us. He shows how systems such as forests can be templates for developing sustainable economic practices that will allow true progress. Demonstrating that all environmental problems have their source in a disregard for the laws of sustainability that is based on the myth of progress, he concludes with an impassioned argument for cultural change.

The Woman President | News | The Harvard Crimson

“I wanted to be the president of Harvard, but I recognized that there was this kind of parallel track where I was being the woman president of Harvard in a way that mattered,” University President Drew G. Faust said.

[N.B.    “President Drew Faust will be remembered by the generation of students who struggled in the global divestment movement for having faced the problem and then having walked away from it, suggesting instead that the “Greening of Harvard” was the most appropriate response to the largest challenge ever faced by humanity.”

See: Harvard Divestment in Historical Perspective
– The Drew Faust Years

 By Kristine E. Guillaume and Jamie D. Halper


As soon as she took office, University President Drew G. Faust wanted to make something clear.

“I’m not the woman president of Harvard. I’m the president of Harvard,” Faust proclaimed at a news conference held the afternoon of her confirmation as the University’s 28th president.

The statement reflected her determination early on to make clear her presidency would be more than just a nod to gender equity.

Reflecting on those words 11 years later, Faust said she did not—and still does not—think she should be considered a “special category.”

“The way it came to sit in my mind was, there are various sports records where somebody gets an asterisk because they have this many home runs but it was a longer season, or there’s some special dispensation so it doesn’t really count—I didn’t want to be the president with an asterisk,” Faust said in an interview in Dec. 2017. “I want to be as powerful, as effective, as respected, taken as seriously, as any man.”

Nonetheless, after more than a decade at Harvard’s helm, Faust—who announced last summer she will step down this June—sees her role a bit differently. Given white men had occupied the University’s highest office for 371 years prior to her selection, Faust said she soon realized her appointment held a special significance for girls and women around the world. She realized being the “woman president” didn’t necessarily mean relinquishing her authority.

…(read more).

See related assessments of President Drew Faust’s reaction to the student Divest Movement:



[ The John W. Weeks Bridge, often called the Weeks Footbridge (or simply Weeks Bridge), links the Harvard campus to the Harvard Business School. During Drew Faust’s term as President it underwent restoration to improve communications between the undergraduate campus and the business school. On September 21, 2015 the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation held a ribbon cutting to mark completion of the $3 million bridge renovation.

Prior to this ceremony, however, – as the photographs by Paul Weiskel published in The Guardian indicate — the Weeks bridge was the location for student protests opposing Harvard’s inaction in the national divestment movement and objecting to what many saw as the dominant role that corporations and the Harvard Business School have come to play in determining the policies of the university as a whole under the Faust Presidency.

It will be revealing to observe if President designate Lawrence Bacow retains this divestment policy, allowing corporate perspectives to dominate and overrule scientific, moral and ethical concerns in this important field of university policy in the face of the expressed concerns of both the faculty and student divestment movement.]