THE HOME OF MAN by Barbara Ward


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Economist and social theorist Barbara Ward wrote Only One Earth--which became a Book-of-the-Month Club selection--as an unofficial report for the UN Conference on the Human Environment in 1972. The Home of Man is to serve a comparable purpose--informing and preparing the general public--for ""Habitat,"" the UN Conference on Human Settlements to be held in Vancouver in June '76. A conference assumes that something can be done, and it compels diplomatic acceptance of different political/economic orders so as to work toward larger planetary goals. These two requirements of the occasion shape Barbara Ward's book towards a guarded optimism and a political realism which sees genuine possibilities in the world as it is, not on the basis of ideologically biased projection. The result is a graceful, comprehensive, and urgent overview of the unprecedented worldwide crisis in human settlement--as manifest in the urban population explosion, drastic economic inequity, the metastasis of the automobile, inadequate sanitation and transport, abandonment of farming in hungry countries--and of possible solutions, both tried and merely projected. Diplomacy and optimism may condition Ward's assertion that the necessary, massive reordering of priorities towards basic justice and basic sanitation for the poor need not diminish the living standard of the better-off--only their criminal wastefulness. But she manages to convince that only 10% of the world's defense budget could forestall crisis if applied with local and international intelligence, citizen participation, and new solar (not nuclear) and recycling technologies. Her book is most heartening in that it abolishes the contradiction between human need and environmental fragility; the best solutions to human misery appear to be--mirabile dictu--efficient, inexpensive, profitable, and ecologically sound.

Pub Date: April 26th, 1976
ISBN: 0393064204
Publisher: Norton