THE SKY IS STILL FALLING by Donald E. Carr

THE SKY IS STILL FALLING

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The Breath of Life (1965)and Death of the Sweet Waters (1966)established Cart as a passionate, knowledgeable advocate of stringent environmental controls; but here, to counter the anti-environmental backlash, he wanders beyond reasonable concern into a miasma of hyperbole verging on inaccuracy. As he sees it, we are on the brink of an environmental Armageddon. Our very solutions to environmental problems are doing fresh damage. Fuel-conserving New Englanders, for example, are destroying the ozone layer with their wood-burning stoves--because fires release nitrous oxide (laughing gas) into the atmosphere, where it rises and attacks the ozone layer (thereby also causing species' extinctions and a ""frightful"" rise in skin cancer). No evidence is cited to demonstrate such a rise in nitrous oxide levels; no mention is made of forest fires, which introduce far more nitrous oxide into the atmosphere than wood-burning stoves. And Cart doesn't bother to say that many scientists think that nitrous oxide has no effect on the ozone layer. None of this necessarily makes Cart wrong; but it does cast doubt over his arguments--which include the contention (Seabrook demonstrators, take note) that nuclear reactors release less radiation than coal. Other, more familiar areas discussed include man-made carcinogens in the environment, acid rain, and auto pollution--sometimes more discriminatingly, sometimes not. And, like many of his counterparts, Cart has a pet solution to the energy-crisis/pollution problem--the use of alcohol as a fuel. What is absent from the book as a whole is any sense of the uncertainty involved in environmental predictions and calculations--any recognition of the honest disagreement among intelligent, concerned scientists, even on basic questions. For Cart, it is us-against-them--an attitude that will only give anti-environmentalists an excuse to dismiss outright many of the legitimate questions he does raise.

Pub Date: Feb. 22nd, 1982
Publisher: Norton