Acting as if Tomorrow Matters: Accelerating the Transition to Sustainability

Acting as if Tomorrow Matters: Accelerating the Transition to Sustainability
John C. Dernbach
Release Date

In his previous book, the well-received and often-quoted Agenda for a Sustainable America (2009), John Dernbach made more than a hundred recommendations for making the United States more environmentally sustainable. Yet it is increasingly clear that the modest progress made by the United States since the Earth Summit in 1992 is not caused by the absence of specific and feasible policy recommendations. What we need to do is well known. How we are going to do it is much less clear.

Acting as if Tomorrow Matters is a guide to making the United States environmentally sustainable. It is based on the views of more than four dozen nationally known experts in a variety of fields. Synthesizing answers to essential questions about sustainability, Dernbach provides an empirically based framework to explain the progress made in the United States to date on sustainability, including a description of the most significant obstacles to rapid and increased success. Building on the framework that has guided real progress so far, Dernbach explains in detail how to make a greater variety of more sustainable decisions even more attractive, how law can provide an even better enabling environment for sustainability, and how public opinion and leadership can more effectively be engaged to support sustainability. The book thus provides a checklist of ideas and opportunities for moving toward sustainable development-starting now.

About the Author

John C. Dernbach is Distinguished Professor of Law at Widener University in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and codirector of Widener’s Environmental Law Center. He leads the only project in the United States that comprehensively assesses American sustainability efforts and makes recommendations for future efforts. As part of that project, he previously edited Agenda for a Sustainable America (Environmental Law Institute 2009) and Stumbling Toward Sustainability (Environmental Law Institute 2002). His scholarship focuses on environmental law, climate change, sustainable development, and legal writing. Professor Dernbach has written more than 40 articles for law reviews and peer-reviewed journals, and has authored, coauthored, or contributed chapters to 14 books. He was a member of the committee that wrote the 2011 National Research Council report, Sustainability and the U.S. EPA. Before taking his teaching position at Widener, Professor Dernbach worked in a variety of positions at the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, and served most recently as that agency’s policy director.

Book Reviews

"Acting as if Tomorrow Matters offers a sweeping review of America’s sustainability journey, tracking progress—and slippage—across a wide range of critical issues over the past 20 years. Even more powerfully, it charts a course toward a truly sustainable future, highlighting the advances in law, governance, incentives, education, and political mobilization that will be required."
- Daniel C. Esty, Hillhouse Professor of Environmental Law and Policy, Yale University

"From Rio '92 to Rio '12: America's pledge to achieve sustainability has been honored too often in the breach. The reasons for both failures and successes are many and complex, as are the tasks ahead. Acting as if Tomorrow Matters offers redemption and a vision of success."
- Paul R. Ehrlich, Bing Professor of Population Studies, Stanford University, and author of The Dominant Animal

"John Dernbach has been the leading chronicler of the 20-year quest for sustainability in the United States since the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. What Professor Dernbach has observed in the United States is reflective of what is going on around the world."
- Jacob Scherr, Director of Global Strategy and Advocacy, Natural Resources Defense Council