The fourth annual edition of the Worldwatch Institute's report on the extent to which the world's economic and social systems adjust to changes in the underlying natural resource base. Since the series began, Brown, Worldwatch's president, has gained more and more acclaim for his work, including the awarding of a prestigious MacArthur grant this year. A reading of this year's report sustains those judgments. The State of the World does not follow an annual format. Rather, each year's edition explores a variety of topics crucial to that particular year. The 1987 edition treats, among others, the problem of accelerating urbanization, the consequences of disrupting global chemical cycles, the Chernobyl disaster, the worldwide trend to increasing reliance on market mechanisms, and recycling innovations and the raising of agricultural productivity in developing countries. Over all of the discussions hangs the failure of contemporary society to satisfy ""its needs without diminishing the prospects of the next generation."" Echoing such critics as Herman Daly and the Club of Rome, Worldwatch questions our capacity to continually grow economically: ""The negative side-effects of this century's 20-fold expansion of economic activity are now becoming inescapable."" The study endorses the mammoth international Geosphere-Biosphere Program (simply called the Global Change Program) as holding out some hope for solving such complex world problems as deforestation. But it decries the Stat Wars program as siphoning off too many human resources for a questionable purpose. The study does recognize the change in world economic stratification from East-West to North-South, as touted by such as Willy Brandt. The authors are censorious of modern management's lack of cooperation with crucial worldwide energy goals. In the end, they imply, this is the crucial factor in ensuring sustainability of natural resources as we approach the 21st century. Unlike most annuals, an exciting read, with plenty of food for thought.
Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1987
Page Count: -
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1987
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