7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
The book begins as a written letter to the author's grandson, as an explanation as to why the youngster, upon becoming an adult, has to deal with what the author believes is a highly possible and irreversible ecological holocaust. Robert Hunter proceeds to explain the various theories, and therefore explanations of observable and recordable facts, that will (at least according to him and his legions of green people) lead to the demise of earth, as we know it.
The book weaves in and out of ecological explanations, political actions (or lack thereof), and social behavior on the part of the denizens of this earth. From one chapter to another, it's a somewhat disconnected read, especially the narration of how his team decided to chase down an oil tanker to post a large anti-oil sign. This particular chapter did not fit well, as it came across as far more melodramatic than I think the author intended. It seemed so out of place I can only conclude it was inserted as a salute to his fellow eco-activists.
Getting through the author's activism style of writing that seemed to border on fanaticism was admittedly difficult, especially the proliferation of terms and phrases used against oil and the two Bush Administrations, little of which helped establish the book's credibility to me, the layperson. However, there is definitely a message and something to learn. After all, legions of people, especially so many scientists, just can't be suffering from some kind of mass delusion that leads them to believe that the earth is in danger. And after all, it's oil interests, whether American or global, that has the most to lose from ecological policy changes.
One fairly consistent theme throughout Thermageddon is the lack of creativity of how the stated problem develops itself a solution. With nuclear weapons, and more recently chemical and biological weapons, an effective message can be created with imagination. Believable or not, Colin Powell certainly left an impression during the February 2003 United Nations meeting. These kinds of messages can be delivered with a desired effect that's simple but powerful, with intent to rally strong support for political policy. With an ecological holocaust, it's nearly impossible to paint an equally effective dire picture of our individual and collective causal factors. We're creatures of our present circumstances, and we don't know better to take responsibility for the affects of our daily lives now, because the little things we do that hurt the environment are so seemingly mundane and natural to our busy and integrated lives. The author drives this point home throughout the book, and is perhaps the best message he takes to the reader.
Whether the reader likes the way the book is written, whether the reader has heard before of Robert Hunter (I didn't), there is something that strikes the heart about the plea he makes to the world's citizens. There is no doubt he has the best intents in mind for future generations. I think he does an okay job at conveying this message. Again, filters are needed to get to it, though.
Enough got through to me, however, to personally halve the usage of my dishwasher and washer/dryer, not fix the natural gas heater a couple months ago and instead have the family wear more clothing when it's chilly, recycle more than I had before, use ecologically friendly and lifelong maintenance free materials to replace my deck even at a 50% increase in purchase costs over treated lumber, and avoid general waste of natural resources. Of course, I'll need to figure out what to do with the family SUV. For now, I've set and maintained a target usage that only allows filling it up every two weeks on average (before it was filled probably every 9 or 10 days). In the process of all these changes, I've discovered it's cheaper to be ecologically friendly compared to the cost of so much convenience. Interestingly enough, I've proven to myself a bottom line long-term real dollar savings exists, which I don't think the author does a good job trying to convey this benefit to the mass reader. Or, perhaps he simply gave up this tactic; convenience is so powerful and maybe even irrational, given that, arguably, we've just begun to taste it after millions of years of evolution.
But all this being the case, the author has impressed upon me enough of a worry to become more responsible to the environment, and I'm saving money in the process!
A few worthy pertinent messages are there for serious consideration to the layperson, whom I'm sure is his target reader. All in all, Thermageddon is a meaningful book. But it could have been written much better.