cover image How the Rich Are Destroying the Earth

How the Rich Are Destroying the Earth

Herve' Kempf. Chelsea Green Publishing Company, $12.95 (124pp) ISBN 978-1-60358-035-9

In this frequently iconoclastic, and surprisingly humorous book, Kempf, environmental editor of Le Monde, puts together familiar themes-ecological crisis, the widening gap between rich and poor, and the threat anti-terrorism poses to democracy-to point out the elephant in the room: the fact that the income and conspicuous consumption of the ""hyper-rich"" need to be reduced so the world's poorest can receive justice and the middle classes will ""consume less; the planet will be better off; and, we'll be less frustrated by what we don't have."" Kempf references Thorstein Veblen's Theory of the Leisure Class, arguing that Veblen's theories-once made obsolete by the narrowing of incomes in the twentieth-century-are relevant again due to the rise of a new international aristocracy. He may infuriate right-leaning American readers allergic to discussions of class warfare, but he's equally hard on the ""wobbly"" left, ""pickled in the idea of progress as it was conceived in the nineteenth century."" Although the book's message is deeply disturbing, its uniquely French style of lighthearted, even optimistic seriousness makes it a refreshing and entertaining read.