ONE WITH NINEVEH: Politics, Consumption, and the Human Future

Paul R. Ehrlich, Author, Anne H. Ehrlich, Author . Island $27 (447p) ISBN 978-1-55963-879-1

The Ehrlichs' provocative and eminently readable look at current environmental trends takes its title from Rudyard Kipling's poem "Recessional," which contrasts the pomp of the 19th-century British empire to the faded glory of Nineveh, the ancient capital of the Assyrian empire. The Ehrlichs (Betrayal of Science and Reason ), both members of Stanford's department of biological sciences, look at the global problems of overpopulation, overconsumption, and political and economic inequity that threaten to make the world into a new fallen Nineveh. Each of the book's nine chapters analyzes one area in detail (using current research in ecology, demographics, migration, economics, biodiversity, ethics, climate, politics and globalization) and then suggests measures "that might allow humanity in general, and the world's sole remaining superpower in particular, to alter course and work towards achieving a sustainable world." The prognosis is sometimes depressing: about three-fifths of all important oceanic fish stock has been seriously depleted since 1994; today's global population of six billion is about three times what Ehrlich considers to be the "optimal" number for the world; profligate consumption threatens to use up nonrenewable natural resources such as oil while governments inhibit the development of renewable sources such as solar power. The current Bush administration is the target of cogent criticism about how it has aided a culture "dominated by short-term greed," but Europe and various Third World countries receive their share of criticism as well. A concluding section embraces the philosophy of Martin Luther King Jr. to argue that idealism and individual action can still save the world from massive environmental disaster. Although wide-reaching in range, this is a direct and levelheaded presentation that should get, and deserves, wide readership. (May)

Reviewed on: 03/08/2004
Release date: 05/01/2004
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 465 pages - 978-1-59726-031-2
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