A Moment on the Earth: The Coming Age of Environmental Optimism

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9780140154511: A Moment on the Earth: The Coming Age of Environmental Optimism

Greg Easterbrook's "A Moment on the Earth" proclaims a revolution in environmental thinking. Instead of the dogged pessimism of the past, the author charts a new course towards the positive in environmental events.One of the most striking features of "A Moment on the Earth" is Easterbrook's sense that nature's perspective is the essential ingredient missing from modern environmental thought. In the first section of the book Easterbrook draws upon biology, geology, and environmental theory to show how the flow of life appears from nature's point of view.Part Two of the book analyzes, persuasive detail, every major environmental issue of our time - from energy, forests, and population, to radiation, toxic waste, and water-separating. Those environmental alarms that have been genuine from those that have been exaggerated.

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Review:

This is a well-documented examination of the effects of human society on the global environment. Easterbrook's conclusion: Things are getting better, not worse. Not surprisingly, this book has generated considerable controversy in many circles of environmentalists and ecologists, and many of his arguments only apply to overly-developed nations. For example, he stumbles badly when dealing with tropical rainforests, completely ignoring the fact that clearcutting in tropical environments leads to essentially irreversible loss of soils and a sterile clay pan. But all in all, I recommend this book highly to everyone interested in the proper interpretation of long-term ecological trends. In my opinion, he is as often right as wrong, and habitual doomsday-sayers would do well to seriously consider and possibly adopt some of his positions on ecorealism.

From Library Journal:

A contributing editor to Newsweek and The Atlantic, Easterbrook offers a new approach to environmental thinking characterized by confidence in the ability of human reason and technology to work with nature to create a healthy habitat for humans, plants, and animals. He contrasts his optimistic approach, termed "eco-realism," with the pessimism and doomsaying he finds in current environmentalism. In the first part, Easterbrook attempts to look at the condition of the modern earth from the perspective of a personified nature, reassuringly resilient and resourceful through eons of time. The second part assesses in separate alphabetized chapters the current status of various environmental problems, while the brief third section explores a me'lange of visionary futures for life on Earth and in space. Although Easterbrook supports valid criticisms of alarmist environmentalist tactics, particularly in cases of radiation dangers and chemical safety, his book is likely to provoke controversy because, especially in Part 1, his stance is polemic, his language often satiric, and the viewpoints of environmental spokespersons oversimplified and sometimes distorted. The journalistic practice that omits complete documentation of sources also undercuts the effectiveness of Easterbrook's arguments. Still, this may prove to be an influential book that libraries with environmental collections should consider acquiring.
Joan S. Elbers, formerly with Montgomery Coll., Rockville, Md.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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