RED SKY AT MORNING: America and the Crisis of the Global Environment

James Gustave Speth, Author
James Gustave Speth, Author . Yale Univ. $24 (299p) ISBN 978-0-300-10232-1
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In this timely book, Speth, dean of the Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, sounds the alarm on the seriousness of the global environmental crisis. Although he contends that it is not too late to avert disaster, he stresses that we are running out of time and that we can't afford to let current trends continue. He acknowledges that there have been a few hopeful developments, such as the ban on ozone-depleting chemicals around the world, but overall, he argues that little has been accomplished by a plethora of international conferences, negotiations, action plans and treaties. The failure, for which he says the U.S. must take much of the blame, stems from a focus on the symptoms rather than on the underlying causes of environmental degradation, such as population size, affluence and technology. He underscores the necessity of achieving sustainability—living off nature's income rather than consuming its capital—and lists eight transitions that are necessary to redefine and redirect growth on a global level. Speth, co-founder of the Natural Resources Defense Council, founder of the World Resources Institute and an adviser on environmental issues for presidents Carter and Clinton, is well qualified to present a wake-up call on the environment in this thorough and reasoned book. Unfortunately, his somewhat dry recital of the facts may put off some potential readers—that is, today's youth. In a final and particularly useful chapter, he lists organizations and Web-based resources. (Mar.)

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