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on 30 January 2004
Senator Al Gore won high praise for this book from Bill Moyers because he "faces honestly the unremitting evidence of science"; from M. Scott Peck for "clearly pointing the way we need to change to assure the survival of our grandchildren"; and from Carl Sagan who tells us that "mitigating the crisis will require a planetary perspective, long-term thinking, political courage and savvy, eloquence and leadership - all of which are in evidence in Al Gore's landmark book." As a child the author watched eight acres an hour of top soil being carried away in the Mississippi River while his mother explained the implications of Rachel Carson's 'Silent Spring'; as a student his professor explained the profound and disruptive change in the global climate due to the carbon dioxide build up in the atmosphere measured at Mauna Loa; as a serviceman in Vietnam he learned of the results of using Agent Orange; as a Congressman he investigated hazardous waste dumps such as Love Canal and learned of our leaders' powerful and determined opposition to the truth and their unwillingness to think about the comprehensive nature of the response needed. After reflecting on his own personal role in determining the course of his nation and civilization he ran for President focusing his campaign on global warming, ozone depletion, the ailing global environment and nuclear arms control only to discover that no one was interested in these issues and that the media would not provide coverage. It was a lesson in how political motives and government policies have helped to create the crisis and frustrate finding solutions; it was a lesson about leadership and evasion of responsibility, timidity of vision, avoiding important issues, and postponing difficult choices. He concluded that "Each of us must take a greater personal responsibility for this deteriorating global environment; each of us must take a hard look at the habits of mind and action that reflect - and have lead to - this grave crisis. The more deeply I search for the roots of the global environmental crisis, the more I am convinced that it is an outer manifestation of an inner crisis that is, for the lack of a better word, spiritual." Gore concluded that the search for truth about the crisis and the search for truth about himself are in fact the same search. Mahatma Ghandi said "We must be the change we wish to see in the world" but Gandhi could say that only after he was asked to tell a boy to stop eating sugar, stopped eating sugar himself for two weeks and only then spoke to the boy. Gore concluded that he had to deal with his own hypocrisy in such things as using CFCs in his automobile air conditioner before he could hope to convince others of the hypocrisy in their lives.
Gore examines the crisis from the perspective of the earth sciences, economics, sociology, history, information theory, psychology, religion and from his vantagepoint as a politician. Although very difficult changes in established patterns of thought and action will be required, success is within our capacity and desirable in the interest of social justice, democratic government and free market economics. But we must adopt an attitude similar to that which brought success in World War II where the central organizing principle was total commitment to the defeat of fascism. Following the war and through 1989 the central organizing principle of government policy and society was total commitment to the defeat of communism; this was the reason for the Marshall Plan, MacArthur's blueprint for Japan, the 1947 decision to give massive aid to Greece and Turkey, NATO, foreign aid, the Korean and Vietnam wars, the nuclear arms race, and arms sales to dictators opposed to Soviet communism - all served the same central purpose of defeating communism. Even the interstate highway system, federal aid to education and the space program were tied to the defeat of communism. The Marshall Plan concentrated on fixing bottlenecks impeding growth. Today we need total commitment to a Global Marshall Plan concentrating on five strategic goals - stabilizing world population, environmentally appropriate technologies, changes to the economic rules, renegotiated international agreements, and educating the world's citizens about our global environment - and emphasizing actions and programs aimed at removing the bottlenecks to creating a healthy global economy.
This book gives much more than the environmental facts; it helps us understand why our leaders fail in their responsibilities even when presented with indisputable evidence; it helps us understand that we need more political savvy; it helps us understand that you and I are the problem and we have to do as Gandhi tells us - WE must be the change we want to see in the world. Finally it helps us to understand that if we are to take greater personal responsibility, we must be committed. Gore quotes W. H. Murray who is actually partially quoting Wolfgang Goethe who I quote in full because it is only when we accept Chico Mendes' level of commitment that we will work the miracle that is needed to save our world.
"Concerning all acts of initiative and creation,
there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which
kills countless ideas and splendid plans;
that the moment one definitely commits oneself,
Providence moves, too.
All sorts of things occur to help one,
That would otherwise never have occurred.
A whole stream of events issues from the decision,
Raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and
Meetings and material assistance, which no person could
Have dreamt would have come his or her way.
Are you in earnest?
Seize this very minute!
Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it!
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it."
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on 23 June 2001
As I'm taking a degree in environmental science, any books of this nature interest me, however, this book in particular has stuck out as one of my favourites. The topics covered from global warming to pollution are covered in an easy to read format, though the science behind them is explained extremely coherently. Al Gore injects a definate human quality into this book, and one gets the feeling that it was written by a man with a great passion for what he was writing. The book covers a range of environmental problems citing examples, explantions and often reasonable solutions.
I have recommended this book to many "non-scientific" friends, and many have enjoyed reading it as well as benefitted from the information it contains.
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on 7 November 1998
This is a wonderful book. Here's what just one reviewer said:
"Gore leads readers toward a greater understanding of humanity and toward thinking beyond currently perceived limitations. With often stunning insight. . ."
The ratings of objective customers correspond with professional reviews (4 or 5 stars). The customers that give 1-star reviews in Amazon are trying to diminish sales of this book due to anti-environmental fanaticism or political fanaticism. When will they ever stop trying to damage the integrity of valid sources of information? People have a right to know the truth.
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on 16 February 1998
A conscientious, thoughtful book.
The book's implications are so disturbing that many readers can expect to be shocked and angry with Mr. Gore for rocking our boats so violently.
"Earth in the Balance" is definitely not the sort of vision-thing we expect to hear from our politicians, who usually specialize in massaging our egos - not disrupting them!
For that reason alone, I consider this to be THE must-read book of the last decade.
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on 20 May 1998
I am an Ecology student (4.0 gpa) and I have seen some of these horrible truths that are discussed in this book. I think it is a shame that some people think that this book was fiction, or funny. I feel for those people. If they only knew of the damage humans cause and just how simple it would be to eliminate a lot of the damage. I felt that this book was straight and to the point. It was like reading a horror story in some ways. I am not a person who reads a great deal but, when I picked this book up I was unable to put it back down till I had finished it. It was absolutely the best book that I have ever read. I do feel for those who live in a world of fiction. Sorry but its fact.
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on 19 May 1997
When I signed up for a required ecology class at my college, I never expected to have this book as the only textbook for the class. Textbooks are the main backup for the days you just can't get out of bed and attend class. When I went to buy my books, I quickly realized that I would be getting a lot less sleep. I even remember mentioning loudly, much to the amusement of the other students, that I had to read a book written by a man who doesn't move his head and can't dance.
I sat down to read the first assigned reading and was pleasantly amazed. The book isn't boring at all. Al Gore has a beautiful, flowing writing style. I managed to read an entire required book without a sign of fatigue or distraction. It even had pictures to keep my thoughts from straying. I am not ashamed to say that I enjoyed this book. I really mean it. Even if you are not into the environment, at least read it to be shocked by a book that defied many of my preconcieved notions about the man. I ended up getting my required sleep for the quarter.
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on 29 April 2010
Recommended book for everyone who cares about our future generations. Easy to read and understood even for non-native.
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VINE VOICEon 30 October 2006
My main point about this excellent book is why did Al Gore decide to ignore it? He wrote the book in the early 90s round about the time he became Vice President. Did he do anything about the ecology when he was in power? No. Did he carry out any of the actions he recommends? Hardly. I think it's great that he's written a book on the ecology but I 'm disappointed that it's taken him this long to take any notice of it. When he was in a position to really make a point and to have a dramatic effect on the American people he fluffed it.
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on 19 July 2014
great book
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on 22 July 1998
How ironic that environmentalist weirdos spout that we are killing trees when a majority of them support the poppycock, pseudoscience in this book. The public would have been better served if the paper used to produce this crap would have been left to grow wild. The book is full of statements such as, "...the automobile is more dangerous than the Atom bomb" which exemplify sheer lunacy. I would envision this "tome" as toilet paper although I would dread ink poisoning.
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