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41 of 49 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Monbiot's vision of the future will give you nightmares..., 24 Jun. 2007
This review is from: Heat: How We Can Stop the Planet Burning (Paperback)
George Monbiot of The Guardian is in any ways a more upmarket version of Michael Moore - just as determined to slay the dragons of corporate self-interest and government hypocrisy, but going about it with a little more finesse.

In this uncompromising thesis on global warming, he takes the view that carbon emissions need to be reduced by a whopping 90% if we're to avoid hitting the "tipping point" which will accelerate us towards global disaster. Having laid that on the line and debunked the oil industry- funded naysayers, he goes on to point the finger at the ones who are really responsible - us.

It's our inertia, he says, that keeps emissions so high, because once we're used to our gas-guzzlers, our long-haul flights and our out-of-season luxuries, we're far too loath to surrender them in the name of collective survival. And as long as industry keeps on burning the midnight oil, why should we bother with energy-saving lightbulbs?

Monbiot prescribes a diet of privation. If we want to avoid a forcible return to Neolithic hunter-gathering, we need to elect to ration ourselves: and cutting our energy consumption to the bone is the only way ensure a positive outcome. That means eating what's locally available, keeping our cars in the garage and evolving a workable system of public transport and food deliveries. And most of all, it means an end to globetrotting - because there's no fat and effective way to travel that's acceptably carbon-neutral.

As always, though, everyone is waiting for everyone else to act. "Everyone has to move, or no-one moves," says one supermarket boss. "If we do it and nobody else does, we're lost." The situation as a lot in common with the old cold war, nuclear proliferation and mutually-assured destruction: except in this case, it's a lack of action that will bring on environmental Armageddon.

Where the book is weak is dealing with solutions in areas that are not the haunts of the chattering urban middle classes. Monbiot makes a valuable point when he says that the keys to change are held by exactly those people with most to lose, but that very arrogance is reflected in his own delineation of both problems and solutions. What do you do if you live in a rural area with little or no public transport, the nearest shop is eight miles away and Tesco don't deliver within fifty miles of your home? Such areas could also have much to teach suburban-dwellers about growing vegetables in season rather than importing posh nosh from Costa Rica.

Still, it's a valuable book, if a depressing one. As Monbiot says in his introduction, "I have one last hope - that I might make people so depressed about the state of the planet that they stay in bed all day, thereby reducing their consumption of fossil fuels."

As published at Subba-Cultcha.com
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Location: Scotland, UK

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