Senator Gore (Tennessee), who was known as the environmental candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination last time around, says here that he strayed from that concentration when pollsters steered him onto other issues—and that he now has redirected himself to saving the earth. His book is not just another roundup summary of threats to the environment, though it does include chapters on water problems, deforestation, and the genetic erosion of the global food supply, but it's a seemingly heartfelt attempt to understand and convince those (politicians and public) who deny the urgency of the problems and the need to act. Gore has a roundabout way of making his points, often diluting amazing quotes, facts, and stories by presenting them as examples or asides within the abstract frameworks he constructs in his indirect way of approaching the issues. He is fond of analogies, but the analogies can be stretched far beyond their value to illuminate—as in an entire chapter, ``Dysfunctional Civilization,'' that goes on at length about dysfunctional families, addiction, and co-dependency. And instead of using the familiar as analogy to clarify a difficult concept, he often does the opposite—for example, calling on chaos theory and Einstein's Theory of Relativity (``Bear with me'') to help us recognize the threshold for dramatic change in our relationship to the environment. Yet on particular issues he often gets caught up in conventional thinking and fails to cut through with fresh ideas. Gore's concluding recommendations for a global environmental strategy work as a thoughtful position paper but are unlikely to inspire politicians or popular action. Which, however, is not to dismiss the desirability of getting Gore's agenda in motion. So consider buying the book, displaying it, and hoping for the best.
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