A MOMENT ON THE EARTH by Gregg Easterbrook


Why Nature Needs Us
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 Nature is not the wimp that environmentalists would have us suppose, and hysterics regarding the state of the planet will only undercut the advances made over the last 25 years, claims Easterbrook in a voluminous study marred by contradictory moments and petty jibes. Easterbrook, a contributing editor to both Newsweek and the Atlantic, urges the environmental movement to get upbeat regarding improvements in our dealings with nature: cuts in air pollution, prospects for diminishing acid rain, citizens challenging toxic- waste situations, better water quality--all the result, he notes generously, of an ecological consciousness brought to us by the environmental movement. But, he continues, that movement is jeopardized by doomsayers and firebrands in its mainstream who throw credibility to the wind. He believes in the Earth's ability to mend its wounds--both those we wreak and the self-inflicted variety (e.g., by vulcanism and disease)--and that those little vexations of capitalism (greed, shortsightedness, gross inequalities in distribution) can be nipped. Easterbrook speaks confidently of a future when herbivorism will replace violence between sentient creatures (clearly, he doesn't talk to his plants); when cooperation will replace competition; when a rationalist ethic will prevail. Nice thought, though that train may never pull into the station. Techno-fixes are not the answer, he says, then blithely states that, when fossil fuels run out, ``humankind will have moved on to other energy sources.'' He admonishes that raw nature is nasty and brutish, then speaks of a time, not far off, when Earth ``will have become once again pure and pacific.'' And his endless sniping at the eco-narcissism of Jane Fonda, Robert Redford, et al. is so sour, it's rancid. Easterbrook's sensible, infectious glad tidings are a balm to our environmental concerns, but he needs more editorial red ink, and he needs to remember that all movements must shower some sparks if they hope to start a prairie fire and fan it to keep it going.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-670-83983-3
Page count: 700pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1995


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