4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars
Good idea - poor execution, 28 Mar 2012
As he writes in the book a child need optimism to face the future and the girl who challenges her scientist father not to take it away from her is fully correct.
Optimism is not the same as blind optimism though, and that is what is presented here in many ways. Mankind can fix everything still, in my view that option stopped when we exterminated the neanderthals, they are never coming back and what we did can not be undone. This is a fact we should face straight on as mankind pushes somewhere between 3 and 300 species into the abyss each day. Atonement don't seem to be part of the vocabulary of this book but it is of mine and a strong driver for me to do as much as I can do to save what can be saved. My conscience is mine but I accept responsibility for my actions primarily, also to some extent of the actions of the nationstate I'm part of. I try to make sure that my hand is not part of the pressure that pushes species into the abyss. Personal responsibility is low on the agenda in this book, which I also have a problem with as it is a cop out.
Also the boundaries are not static, as we exterminate species, fewer are left maintaining the web of life and many of the services we require so the boundary contracts with each species exterminated. As more fresh water is polluted, there is less to go around. As arable land is lost to erosion or poisoned, there is less left. Of course the boundaries can expand as well, not likely as the pressure keeps increasing but should be pointed out.
Genetic engineering need to be expanded and the idea to truly wring maximum food out of agricultural land so that more wild land can be left alone is a good one, just make sure the changes can't spread to wild species and keep a large seed bank if problems with GE crops crop up in the future.
Nuclear power should not be advocated for without discussing cost as it is in this book, agree overall that the radiation risk largely exaggerated. But as Monbiot says, the largest hurdle for new nuclear is the cost, look at new epr units in finland and france. I certainly hope he isn't advocating that the public sector takes on all the risk and cost of decommisioning, storage of spent fuel as well as the risk of meltdown. All these factors should be internalized, if the state is insurer of last resort the premium should reflect that. The book should mention the bill left to the british taxpayers for the clean up after the first generation reactors. Also 4th generation reactors are perhaps on demo stage but no more which is true as well for thorium, which means it will take many years for commercialisation, not mentioned in this book where you get the opinion they are ready to roll.
Also implicitly he assumes that the human socity is one, which is wrong, in the legal sense there are 193 nation states and some of these has just about broken the ecosystems of their countries. Haiti, yemen, somalia, pakistan etc and the human pressure on the environment has to decrease in these countries or the web of life will collapse locally. If we can find other countries that would receive the millions that need to move it would surprise me. Maybe family planning, education, technology, continuing external help for a very long time can do the job but the scale of the challenge in combination with all other boundary challenges should be mentioned. It isn't in this best all worlds..........
Well, that's my 2 cents and the book made me think which all to the good.