Diet for a Small Urban Industrial Planet
Email this review


Career ecologist Wittbecker’s (REviewing, REthinking, REturning, 2005, etc.) ninth book condenses a trove of knowledge and observations into an abridged course of action for global sustainability.

There’s presently much at stake in our fight to reverse damage to the environment, contends Wittbecker, and considerably more that must be done to correct the consumer-driven phenomena of global warming, animal extinction, deforestation, carbon emissions and population growth. But the author has no illusions, stating very clearly that it could be too late–that we may have already reached the turning point on the slippery slope of complete ecological destruction. Yet with no empirical way to gauge this impasse, Wittbecker asserts that we have a responsibility to take action in slowing and/or amending the detrimental effects of human events (termed “catastrophes”) now creating major imbalances on a global scale. Unlike other environmentally focused authors, rather than take a defensive stance to prove or disprove theory with reams of footnotes, the co-founder of the G.P. Marsh Institute for Research in Ecology simply states the obvious and backs it up with deft analysis. With four decades of scholarship in ecological research, writing and lecturing, Wittbecker wears the hat of Confucian adviser quite comfortably, offering hundreds of definitive solutions on individual, community and government levels. From proposing taxes based on destruction of resources and pollution emissions, to suggesting that governments destroy nuclear arsenals, the volume is essentially Earth’s bill of rights with policy directives for human responsibility. Comparing capitalism to an aberrant cancer, Wittbecker describes wanton consumerism as a means to fill the bottomless void of “placelessness.” Expanding on his long advocacy of creating “eutopias” (good places), Wittbecker argues that our policies and attitudes must be geared toward longevity and species equality, as well as humans’ harmonious interaction with their ecosystems. This common goal is the only answer for sustainability–cultural, physical, social or otherwise. Some of Wittbecker’s proposals may seem sensationalist and unattainable, but they’re never reactionary. The hook–the earth’s well-being–is delivered with upbeat neutrality and confidence.

Invaluable insights–this compelling text leaves no stone unturned.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 2006
ISBN: 978-0-911385-32-0
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online: