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Essential reading for all who think even a a little bit 'green',
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This review is from: The God Species: How the Planet Can Survive the Age of Humans (Paperback)This is a really important contribution to debates about human activity and its interaction with the environment.
Its importance lies in the clear discussion about 'planetary boundary systems' and not just climate change: those nine interconnected and crucial 'whole earth' systems that sustain human life. These systems can be characterised as having some room for more human intervention before the system starts breaking down, being more or less in equilibrium with human activity, or being beyond equilibrium now. He presnets convincing data and shows each system's rate of change given current trends.
Not being a planetary system scientist, there was a lot of new information for me here, some of it surprising. I would have liked a few graphs and the content is crying out for good diagrams and graphics.
The ideas are of a piece with other 'revisionist' thinking, for example Stewart Brand (on the benefits of cities) and to some extent George Monbiot (on the benefits of nuclear power, despite Fukashima). I like Lynas's fracture of 'being green' equals anti-capitalist/anti-science/anti-corporate.
Probably the biggest challenge for politically active 'greens' is the idea that, given the right incentives, 'the market' i.e current corporate capitalism and governments, can really help shape these boundaries for the better. Growth might be ok, as long as its impact can be sustained by each system, is his basic point.
However, he appears to downplay the appalling history of rampant corporate and regulatory mismanagement of the very systems he wants 'us' to deal with. While his arguments can appeal to and be understood by interested readers, activists, corporate heads and investment funders, it seems to me he is at his weakest when he appeals to so called 'responsible' captains of industry. His call to action just doesn't hit that bottom line, while some innovation simply needs to stop, such as 'fracking'.
Having said that, this book is essential reading for anyone who thinks, talks and acts on environmental issues. I guess that means you.