An ecologist looks at the world -- and finds it in peril --peril from the psychology of waste which permitted exploitation...



An ecologist looks at the world -- and finds it in peril --peril from the psychology of waste which permitted exploitation of our basic capital wealth- land- with all that implies (soil, vegetable matter, wild life, water, and so on). The exploitation has been political and economic. The best salesmanship in the world's history has put over the idea of the American standard of living, and the goal of Freedom from Want- and has practised a monstrous deception since the carrying capacity of land has already been stretched to a danger point, while modern agriculture, with its over-extension, has actually increased environment resistance. Static values are obsolete. Land is dynamic. The closest estimate of world arable land stands at 2,600,000,000 -- and is diminishing with increased mechanization, expanded industrial structure, rural prosperity at the cost of one third of the topsoil, and the existence of millions of ecological DP's. The cost of land abuse is estimated as greater than the cost of all our wars- with the Americas the worst offenders in the rape of their treasurehouse. Even our contemporary reclamation programs get scant endorsement; the TVA, the proposed MVA, come in for criticism; the parsimony of Congress is excoriated. But- the future is still in our hands; though Time Marches On. A birdseye view of the waste and want of the rest of the world,- Latin America, a tragic example; Europe-with special focus on Greece; Asia; the Middle East (Palestine the one bright spot of proof that it can be done); Africa;- and the U.S.A. alone in the position to set up an international WPA, a sad but necessary alternative to atomic and bacterial war...He advocates a conservation program comprised of research, education, action now -- and above all a program of control of population, which menaces the future of the world. Shades of Malthus! Scarehead figures of population curves crossing the curves of means of survival -- the rapid drawing apart. Just how we are to impose a program of ""outwitting the libido"" without the strong arm of dictatorship is hard to see. But Vegt specifically advocates the distribution of contraceptives and information on their use as part of world recovery programs. Almost, as one closes the book, one feels ashamed to read a newspaper printed on pulp, to eat a meal produced from shrinking land, to flush the toilet and waste the water table, to accept the boon of a garbage disposal system with waste of organic matter. But what good reading he makes of it all.

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 1948

ISBN: 0548385165

Page Count: -

Publisher: William Sloane Assoc

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1948