on 28 October 2013
We blank out a dismal vision of our future due to climate change because it is too depressing to contemplate. No government has had the courage to tackle the problem and move towards a more sustainable world for fear of losing votes, so why should we take the initiative?
The World We Made foresees a model society in 2050 where (after several worldwide catastrophes) we have halted the pessimistic prophecies of scientists through innovative advances in our living practices. It is told through the eyes of a teacher living in 2050 and recounts all of the main technological, cultural and political breakthroughs which have led to a sustainable society.
It is the first hopeful prediction for the future that I have read and it is tremendously inspiring. However, the book comes with a big but: it is only ever going to happen if businesses, governments and people like you and me make it happen. In my opinion, The World We Made should be a set book for 6th form students, forced reading for all politicians and thoroughly recommended for everyone else.
on 14 January 2014
The World We Made is full of surprises. In turning over each page I wasn't sure what I was going to find, although it follows very logically and is both informative and entertaining.
The first few surprises were coming to a page on blue paper, then opening up a double-page colour photo crammed with creative solutions to matters such as growing vegetables, using a roof that collects electricity from the sun, and sharing the family saloon with the neighbours. Nothing ‘new new’ except the way they are integrated and laid out – the photo is dated January 7th 2050.
Jonathan Porritt's subjects are those that have held my interest for many decades: world politics, food, the environment, energy, terrorism, human collaboration for positive ends, fairness and above all, leaving the world a better place for our successors. Jonathan's breadth of approach is breathtaking. It makes me feel I have only dabbled on the edges of my special subjects - agriculture, forestry, fisheries and renewable energy. He has gone much wider.
It is written many years ahead of now, yet, as I read, I have to check the dates he gives 'has this happened yet, because it's something I've always feared, hoped for, predicted or expected'. So often the date in the book might be 'in 2024 or 'I remember back in 2030...'.
We read how 'the banking crisis' was resolved in the twenty twenties; and how the multi-nationals lost their evasive powers when they had to pay tax properly following governments got their act together. We see, in projected future news reports, how nuclear power met its match when hackers and cyber-invaders were able to disable operating software.
On the move
It starts with history, passes through the present and glides forward to relate logically concluded future history. I cannot agree with the reviewer on Amazon who says it's boring! Anything but! The illustrations ̶ hand-drawn diagrams and flow charts ̶ the photographs, maps and graphs are inserted at just the right moments. It’s history in both directions!
Knowing Jonathan Porritt's previous work and his interventions into our thinking, I know that I can depend on the science and statistics that he quotes. It's a solid piece of scientific and economic prediction. It's not science fiction. I disagree that the subject has been dumbed down. It is not pompous, stuffy and over-written. It's plain speaking and I can see academics, scientists, technicians and intelligent teenagers enjoying it as a text book - there's so much to discuss and ponder.
I recommend this book most highly and congratulate the author and the team that must have helped in its production.
on 16 February 2014
This book takes all the good and bad things happening in the world today, from solar energy to climate change, from 3D printing to overfishing, and creates a vision of how these trends play out in 2050.
For me, the vision he creates is not important, it is merely a snapshot of one scenario.
For me, the magic is in the way Jonathon floats all these ideas up in the air, which triggers so many thoughts about bigger issues…
- Why does everyone think so short term at the moment?
- Does real change only really happen in the face of disaster?
- How do we make our crappy politicians more useful?
- How can I make a difference?
- IS suitable for… anyone hoping to get some ideas how they can do their bit to help make the world a better place
- ISN'T suitable for… anyone who reads the Daily Mail
on 29 November 2013
I cannot recommend this book enough; upon opening it I couldn't put it down. I've subsequently gifted it to several family members and friends. This is not 'sandals and soya beans', this is a reasoned, scientific proposal wrapped in a clever fictional narrative.
As a parent with young children I've been increasingly thinking about what lies ahead for them. At a time when media coverage seems obsessed with vacuous celebrities, or the horrible things happening in the world, this book delivers an inspirational alternative take on the future.
With each chapter being tiny (~4 pages) the reader is taken on a whirl wind tour of science, engineering, agriculture, education, finance, transportation and social change. Rather than depress us with horror stories Porritt inspires action through painting a picture of the future based on things happening right now - stuff within our grasp.
If we make use of what we have (our intelligence, aptitude and technologies) and refocus on what's important we can not just survive but truly excel - we can create a fantastic world for future generations.
on 8 February 2014
How will humanity cope with climate change, resource depletion, mass extinctions in the animal kingdom, providing a dignified old age for people as modern medicine extends lifespans, rebalancing of the global economy as developing countries catch up developed ones and the many other sustainability challenges we face?
This book gives answers in 49 short, illustrated, easy-to-read chapters. The chapters are independent so readers can choose the topics which most concern them.
While I find it over-optimistic and don’t agree with all the positions it takes (e.g. I’m pro nuclear power), I strongly recommend it for anyone concerned about the challenges we face and wanting to make the world a better place.
on 20 May 2014
This engaging and easy-to-read book is written as a series of short chapters and, by the end of each one, you understand what the problem is, what the solutions might be and what the consequences of inaction could look like.
Jonathon Porritt really knows his stuff on tech developments so this never reads like sci-fi despite being set in the future - he has just extrapolated the likely outcomes of the environmental crises we are facing, and imagined what the human response will be.
I recommended this to a colleague who was a bit shaky on what the key issues are in sustainability. This is such a clever way of getting to grips with a whole host of issues - and much more interesting and engaging with lots of the books I read.
Put it this way: this is the first sustainability book I've ever recommended!
on 16 January 2014
The book gives a totally new perspective on the environmental challenges the world faces. Porritt writes as if he's a thoughtful citizen living in 2050 and reviewing the difficult times he's lived through - some horrendous - before world leaders really got the message and became realistic about cutting 'greenhouse' emissions, slowing human population growth and so on. His world is now very high-tech, but sustainable at something around 8.5 billion people. It is hopeful for the future of the planet, but shows clearly the difficult steps we have to take to get there.
It's written in an intimate style - almost chatty. There are wonderful illustrations - seeming photographs of the future world and key events that got us there. There are jottings in handwriting and informal tables, that make complex points in a single page. I just loved it, and have bought more copies to give to people who I think ought to read it - people like research physicists, or those involved in political decision-making. It ought to be in every secondary school.
on 27 March 2014
Jonathon Porritt's qualifications for guessing about our future could not be more impressive. This is no stab in the dark, nor a rant from a Grumpy Old Green. A lifetime spent deep in the bowels of sustainability and environmental science, rubbing shoulders (and sometimes butting heads) with politicians of all stripes; consulting with scientists, philosophers, business leaders, and even the not-so-odd Royal, has led to this wise book. It is believable, considered, often surprising and challenging. Do not expect to agree with every prediction, but the rationale always stands up to scrutiny. Read this book, enjoy this vision of the future, test the conclusions, challenge them, then congratulate the author on a masterly grasp of such a wide-ranging subject. We need visionaries like Jonathon to challenge the 'business-as-usual' paradigm that so many in power still cling to by their fingertips. Change is accelerating and there are signs that 'Enough!' is only just around the corner.
on 4 January 2014
No-one can predict the future (not even the IPCC) but this book isn't an attempt at accurately doing so - it is more about trying to make us think a little more about what life might be like in the future and what is actually most important in delivering wellbeing. And in that sense, Jonathan does this very well indeed.
The style of the book itself - rich with photographs (and "futurised" photos!), sketches, graphs and more - lends itself to being easily read and really quite enjoyable. I happily dipped into it every night for a few weeks until I'd finished it. Jonathan Porritt does an excellent job in referencing everything possible and the "Connections and Inspirations" section at the back is a rich source of information for those interested in learning more about sustainable development. One criticism would be that it would be really helpful to make this last section available on the book's website as it would save tedious typing in of links.
I've put a copy of this book in my school's library, with strict instructions to have it re-read in 2050 so that we can judge how well humanity has done in coping with the great challenges that lie in the decades ahead. Hopefully it will inspire numerous others between then and now.
A curiously addictive read, a book to be read and shared with others. Full marks!
on 13 January 2014
Just finished reading 'The World We Made' by Jonathan Porritt. A positive look back from 2050 at how we can start to turn things round for the planet. Not all share his optimism but only by exploring and actioning the possibilities do we stand any chance. Highly recommended reading. If only every school student, politician etc would read this book we would see a better future and the futility of many decisions that are made today (I say this on the day Cameron promises councils 'fracking' tax boost...)
I feel the same as Jonathan when he says in the postscript to the book 'Most of the time, I'm more angry than I dare describe. Seeing this beautiful planet of ours systematically abused, day after day, and seeing the misery of billions of people constantly ignored, day after day, gets harder and harder to bear. How dare we continue to live like this?'
Please read the book and pass it to others. It explains why there is still room for hope...