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The Housing Bomb

, 224 pages

1 b&w photo, 17 line drawings

October 2013



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The Housing Bomb

Why Our Addiction to Houses Is Destroying the Environment and Threatening Our Society


Have we built our way to ruin? Is your desire for that beach house or cabin in the woods part of the environmental crisis? Do you really need a bigger home? Why don’t multiple generations still live under one roof? In The Housing Bomb, leading environmental researchers M. Nils Peterson, Tarla Rai Peterson, and Jianguo Liu sound the alarm, explaining how and why our growing addiction to houses has taken the humble American dream and twisted it into an environmental and societal nightmare.

Without realizing how much a contemporary home already contributes to environmental destruction, most of us want bigger and bigger houses and dream of the day when we own not just one dwelling but at least the two our neighbor does. We push our children to "get out on their own" long before they need to, creating a second household where previously one existed. We pave and build, demolishing habitat needed by threatened and endangered species, adding to the mounting burden of global climate change, and sucking away resources much better applied to pressing societal needs. "Reduce, reuse, recycle" is seldom evoked in the housing world, where economists predict financial disasters when "new housing starts" decline and the idea of renovating inner city residences is regarded as merely a good cause.

Presenting irrefutable evidence, this book cries out for America and the world to intervene by making simple changes in our household energy and water usage and by supporting municipal, state, national, and international policies to counter this devastation and overuse of resources. It offers a way out of the mess we are creating and envisions a future where we all live comfortable, nondestructive lives. The "housing bomb" is ticking, and our choice is clear—change our approach or feel the blast.

M. Nils Peterson is an associate professor in the Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources at North Carolina State University. Tarla Rai Peterson is the Boone and Crockett Chair in Wildlife and Conservation Policy at Texas A&M University and a professor of environmental communication at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. Jianguo Liu is the Rachel Carson Chair in Sustainability, a University Distinguished Professor, and the director of the Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability at Michigan State University.

" The Housing Bomb: Why Our Addiction to Houses Is Destroying the Environment and Threatening Our Society explores common fallacies in thinking about housing and offers many alternatives, and is a pick for any social issues collection, especially those strong in urban research."

" The Housing Bomb is an eloquent exposé of the social and environmental ills associated with western housing trends."

"Any reader with an interest in economics, sustainable business, and ecology will find this book well worth reading and debating."

"In this compelling book we are shown the destructive folly of humanity's insatiable appetite for bigger and bigger homes, and for second and third homes, a largely unrecognized factor in the human environmental predicament. Regardless of the negative impact on our life-support systems, too many of us view the home not as a comfortable necessity of life but as a symbol of our status and success. On every page of this book, however, we learn the terrible consequences for our future if this symbiosis of individual vanity and short-term, short-sighted government policy is not interrupted. These authors, descendants of Cassandra, are ignored at our peril."

" The Housing Bomb manages to very effectively and efficiently describe, explain, and suggest solutions for the global, massive explosion in independent households which threatens our natural environment, our survival."

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