A detailed, ambitious plan to reverse Earth’s destruction.
In the first four chapters of his debut book, Rirdan cites hundreds of facts, mostly culled from scientific journals, to summarize the perilous state of our world. He describes changes in climate, land, sea and human habitats: rising temperatures, species extinction, depletion of fossil fuels and much more. Rirdan claims these changes are human-caused, outside of historical trends and increasing in speed. He ends three of these chapters with the same words: “We are all responsible due to our actions and inactions. If this has not been a crime, nothing is. If this has not been immoral, nothing is.” Readers might well despair at this point. How can such vast devastation be stopped, much less reversed? But Rirdan has a plan, a suite of ideas to reconfigure the world within 15 years. In his remaining nine chapters, he examines major infrastructures and ecosystem services—from roads to nutrient cycling—as well as current political and economic systems, and proposes innovations both sweeping and specific. He discusses models of electric cars, the efficiency of photovoltaics and advantages of the Peepoo bag for converting human excrement into compost. He advocates an end to “aviation as we know it,” a carbon-negative economy and a new top-level, transnational government “formed expressly to deal with the planetary exigencies.” While Rirdan’s plan is strident and well-referenced, he doesn’t claim to be the last word. In fact, he hopes the details of his blueprint will be amended and improved upon. He does, however, insist on three overarching principles revolving around the immediate cessation of wilderness degradation, of fossil fuel extraction and of toxic dumping. Rirdan’s tone is rousing, his ideas radical and perhaps unrealistic. But that’s precisely his point: To continue on this planet, our definition of reality, of humanity, must evolve. “If we take on a morally courageous course of action,” he says, “it will change the very identity of what it means to be human.”
A resounding, roll-up-your-sleeves guide that convincingly argues for individual concern on a global scale.