A high-profile collection aimed at creating debate about where the values of our contemporary society are taking us. It will foster reflective thinking about different aspects of time, using the concept of time to communicate and illuminate the idea of sustainable development and question our idolatry of speed. Contributors include Will Hutton and Baroness Mary Warnock.
"Eat faster, get the news faster, communicate faster, date faster, mate faster: 'life in the fast lane' is the aspiration of countless millions, regardless of the career crashes and life-wrecks that litter that particular lane. Jeremy Clarkson, the high priest of speed for speed's sake, has a lot to answer for."
Jonathan Porritt in About Time
About Time is book of the month in The Ecologist magazine. Read the review
Where does all the time go?
Despite the burgeoning army of machines designed to save us time - from cars and aeroplanes to dishwashers and microwaves - we don't seem to have any more of it on our hands. We simply fill the space we clear with more things to do - consuming more, spending more - and then look around for new ways of saving time. And so we spiral onwards, upwards, ever faster. Being busy has become a habit, and a habit that gives us high status - busy people are important people. The business of business is busy-ness. We are moving from a world in which the big eats the small, to a world where the fast eats the slow.
But the fallout from a society hooked on speed is everywhere. It's affecting our health: 60 per cent of the adult population in the UK report that they suffer from stress, and more than half of these say that this has worsened over the last 12 months. It's affecting our family life, with a quarter of British families sharing a meal together only once a month. And it affects our environment too: air travel is a major source of carbon dioxide emissions, accelerating climate change as we speed around the world. And the faster we live, the faster we consume, the faster we waste energy and the faster we pollute the planet. The faster we seem to be running out of time. Is there something fundamentally wrong with the structure and values of this high-speed society? What are we running from and what are we running towards?
Sustainable development is all about time. It's about trying to safeguard the health of the planet, and the people it supports, indefinitely, unconstrained by time. The idea of time offers a novel perspective on what sustainable development is all about. Looking at issues affecting society and the environment through the prism of time conveys the urgency of the challenge and leads us to solutions we might not have thought of before.
About Time, edited by the think-tank Forum for the Future, brings together ten of the world's leading thinkers and writers, including Will Hutton, Baroness Mary Warnock, Sir Martin Rees, Ghillean Prance, Jay Griffiths (the author of the bestselling Pip Pip) and Jonathon Porritt from disciplines including biology, business, sociology, ethnography, astronomy, philosophy, politics, history and sustainability in a collection of intriguing essays exploring the issue of time and how it relates to the environment, economy and society. The first half of this collection looks at different dimensions of time - from the history of time as a social phenomenon and cultural notions of time to cosmological time and the difference between human and machine time. These 'think-pieces' are followed by a series of more practical, solutions-oriented contributions, looking at how we deal with time in different contexts - from the slow food movement and time banks to long-term thinking in politics and what we can individually do to cope with the speed society. Contributions are liberally interspersed with boxes and brief pieces offering bite-sized facts, figures and insights relating to time and our everyday lives.
About Time is a high-profile collection aimed at creating debate about where the values of our contemporary society are taking us. It will foster reflective thinking about different aspects of time, using the concept of time to communicate and illuminate the idea of sustainable development and question our idolatry of speed. In doing so, it aims to inspire and help decision-makers in business, government and elsewhere to appreciate the challenges of sustainable development, and inspire individuals to create change in their own lives.
For readers of No Logo and Longitude, this book provides a thought-provoking twist, bringing together time and sustainability in a refreshing, provocative and accessible way.
This thought provoking compilation of essays should be
the reference list of all undergraduate and postgraduate programmes concerned
with social issues, time and future trends. It also needs to be brought to the
attention of occupational scientists who seek to contribute to wider contextual
issues of what people do in relation to a healthy, sustainable future ... While
each chapter could stand alone as a comment upon how technology or politics
influences time, the editor has melded the contributions successfully to engage
readers in debates about sustainability and how that impacts on
Journal of Occupational Science Vol. 14, No. 1 (April 2007)
Life in the fast lane, and we're wired and tired. The faster we live, yoked to an unattainable and false goal of progress, the more we consume, waste, pollute. We're unhappy, lonely and — perhaps worst — out of touch with ourselves and the consequences.
The idea, that speed kills and workaholism is corrosive, has been around since at least the Industrial Revolution. Or since Bertrand's Russell's 1932 radical essay, 'In Praise of Idleness', in which he argues that a four-day week would free us from the Slave State and unemployment. Now we haveAbout Time: Speed, Society and the Environment, an inspirational series of essays that explore time and sustainability.
Edited by Tim Aldrich of Forum for the Future, its contributors include: Will Hutton, former Observer editor, of The Work Foundation; Jonathon Porritt, ex-UK head of the Green Party and Friends of the Earth; the ethicist Mary Warnock; and Jay Griffiths, author of Pip Pip: A Sideways Look at Time.
Sustainability, the book argues, requires changing our view of time. We are unhitched from natural rhythms, from nature's need for slow change and replenishment. We're addicted to busyness, money-making, and 'short-termism'. And we fill spare time with stuff — or by jetting off to distant beaches — to stave off the angst. About Time challenges us to decelerate, regain control of our time individually and collectively, and think long-term in politics and business.
The view of the past is at times gauzy. Pre-agrarian hunter-gatherers spent only 15 hours weekly working? That can't include cooking, cleaning, keeping warm, and care of children and the sick. But the book is thought-provoking. And the linking of time to sustainability - from tiny Darwinian changes in DNA, to consumerism or the 'swarming' behaviour of youngsters on mobile phones - is just fascinating.
New Consumer, November/December 2005
... brings the many linkages between time and sustainability into sharper focus ... a collection of very readable essays ... it's a bit sobering to be reminded how out of synch we've become in our just-in-time, multitasking, everything-on-demand. 24/7 lifestyles ... and how dissatisfied ... A central theme running through many of the essays is the importance of individual choice in determining our relationship with time ... Could it be that our relationship to sustainability is similarly constrained by a perceived lack of freedom to make choices?
Joel Makower, Worldchanging.com
1. Perspectives on Time
Sir Martin Rees
2. Natural Clocks
Sir Ghillean Prance
3. Too Many, Too Fast?
4. Living Time
5. The Arrival of Time Politics
6. Time and Money
Will Hutton and Alexandra Jones
7. Taking People’s Time Seriously
8. Ethics in Time
Baroness Mary Warnock
9. Time and Technology
James Goodman and Britt Jorgensen
Born in 1975, Tim Aldrich is an executive advisor at KPMG. He edited this book while working as a senior advisor at Forum for the Future, specialising in communications and technology. He joined Forum from the RSA where he worked on the Journal. He is one of the co-authors of Making the Net Work: Sustainable Development in a Digital Society.