Democracy and an agenda for sustainability are threatened by inequality. All humans, regardless of where they live, have basic needs that must be met if they are to be full participants in the societies in which they live. Inequality destroys human and social capital, reduces trust, weakens societies, and threatens their ability to adapt and change. The conditions that threaten our future include not just climate change but a political agenda that seeks to destroy social safety nets while at the same time reducing environmental regulations. The political and economic forces driving an agenda that imperils all of us are outlined and an agenda for resilience is offered.
Scott G. McNall was the founding Executive Director of the Institute for Sustainable Development at California State University, Chico and served as the University’s provost from 1994-2007. He served as Dean of the College of Arts and Science at the University of Toledo, before coming to Chico State. He has held professorial positions at the University of Minnesota, Arizona State University, and the University of Kansas, where he served as chair of the Department of Sociology. He now lives with his wife Sally and their two cats in Missoula, Montana where he is an Affiliated Faculty Member at the University of Montana. Over his career he has written extensively on issues related to equality, social class, sustainability, and resilience. His most recent publications include, Rapid Climate Change: Causes, Consequences, and Solutions; The Business of Sustainability (ed.); and the forthcoming The Problem of Inequality: Why It Threatens Democracy, Reduces Resilience, and Creates Mistrust. Recent articles include “Teaching the Sociology of Climate Change” and “A New Narrative for Sustainability.”