Hope on Earth: A Conversation

Paul R. Ehrlich and Michael Charles Tobias. Univ. of Chicago, $20 (160p) ISBN 978-0-226-11368-5
Two of the world’s leading environmentalists discuss the state of the planet in this quirky book. The text, presented as a transcript of a two-day conversation, permits Ehrlich, Stanford University professor of biology and the world’s best-known proponent of population control, and Tobias, prolific author and filmmaker, to range widely across topics of mutual interest, from the nature of ethics and morality to the role religion has and should play in human society. They share their positions on contraception, circumcision, and chickens, subjects that at first glance seem to have little in common but that coalesce to reveal a coherent perspective on the role humans should play in the world. Ehrlich’s focus is predominately on overpopulation and overconsumption while Tobias is more interested in the ethics of appropriate living. While there is overlap in their interests, at times they seem to be talking past one another, and because most issues are touched on only lightly before another is presented, the text jumps around more than is necessary. The book’s title is ironic given Ehrlich’s contention that we’ve “lost” virtually every environmental battle, and Tobias’s mother summed up the situation best when told about the conversation: “Oh my God, it’s so depressing.” 18 color plates, 30 b&w photos. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/03/2014
Release date: 04/01/2014
Open Ebook - 205 pages - 978-0-226-11371-5
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