A concise, ambitious plan to save ourselves from ourselves.
Das understates his authority to write on global affairs: “I am not a man of letters, a diplomat...or a philosopher,” he claims. Yet his debut offers a fascinating perspective—that of a cardiologist, a Christian raised in India, and a father. Indeed, his young children’s questions prompted him to synthesize his “nonexpert” ideas on thwarting global destruction. He begins with a simple observation: Despite ethnic and physical differences, humans form a single species. For Das, this fact was reinforced during his harmonious years at a multifaith boarding school in Bangalore and in his medical school anatomy class. He combines religious and scientific views to encourage worldwide cooperation and understanding: “The human genome is written in the language of God...which evolved over hundreds of millions of years,” he writes, citing the geneticist Francis Collins. He contends that only by upholding this basic premise—we are one—can humans cease terrorizing each other and turn their attention toward healing the planet. These reflective, personal opening chapters of Das’ slim volume provide insightful reading and, in fact, contain the makings of a full memoir: a rich life story, engaging writing and a broad worldview. Yet in the book’s main sections, he adopts a more prescriptive tone. He calls for a 1,000-year plan, implemented in century-long chunks and overseen by a federation of democracies. In the more immediate future, he writes, we must achieve zero population growth, extensive synthetic food production, and “perfect waste management,” among other sweeping changes. Like other authors of similar tone and scope, Das provides plenty of detail on what ought to change, but less on how these goals might be reached. He does, however, propose some direction, including redoubled efforts to educate and empower women, and a global goods-and-services tax to fund new development programs. Unfortunately, age-old obstacles—the will of leaders to think beyond elections, businesses beyond profits, consumers beyond want—remain unaddressed and as insurmountable as ever.
General but sometimes inspiring guidance on what humans might achieve, should we learn to get along.