cover image Earth Odyssey

Earth Odyssey

Mark Hertsgaard. Broadway Books, $26 (384pp) ISBN 978-0-7679-0058-4

An ambitious report on the global environmental crisis, Hertsgaard's (A Day in the Life) new book is based on his round-the-world odyssey, from 1991-1997. Refuting skeptics, he aims to show that Earth's ecological crisis is real and deepening. His frontline dispatches on air and water pollution, acid rain and resource depletion in China, Africa, Brazil, Thailand, Greece, Russia and Eastern Europe are chilling. Drawing on interviews with Czech president Vaclav Havel and energy expert Amory Lovins, as well as with public health officials, UN administrators, economists and Greenpeace activists, Hertsgaard details several interrelated crises: the worldwide impact of automobiles; runaway population growth; the environmental consequences of Western-influenced consumption patterns in developing nations; nuclear waste disposal, nuclear terrorism and the threat of nuclear war. Hertsgaard's travelogue is not without adventure: he retraces Winston Churchill's 1907 trip across Africa and explores the Amazon rain forest in a riverboat with a Brazilian family. Regarding the U.S., Hertsgaard proposes a ""Global Green Deal"" for the Clinton administration. The West, he says, should take the lead in uniting rich and poor nations by sponsoring public investments in nascent industries such as solar power. In addition, he suggests overhauling tax policies to encourage corporate giants to protect ecosystems. This eloquent wake-up call deserves a wide readership. Agent, Ellen Levine. $40,000 ad/promo; first serial to Atlantic Monthly; author tour. (Jan.)