THE GREEN FUSE by John Harte


An Ecological Odyssey
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 Earth won't forget the environmentally destructive acts inflicted by human hand, warns Harte (Energy and Resources/UC Berkeley) in this impressive study of the global ecosystem--and when the bills fall due, the payback will be dear if we don't cease and desist. Harte's thesis isn't exactly late-breaking news: that Earth is one great ecosystem with infinite and intricate interconnections, and that if you mess with one area, the consequences won't end there--kill off some lowly swamp-dwelling bacteria, and the next thing you know, mutation-causing UV radiation is on the upswing. But the author takes great pleasure in, and has a real talent for, tracking these interconnections. A kind of environmental Sherlock Holmes, he sleuths his way through the knotty ecocomplexes of an Alaskan stream, the Tibetan Plateau, the Florida Everglades, Pacific reefs, and a tropical forest. Each study is a self- contained vignette, giving the lay of the land; who or what is menacing the place; and proposals on how the threat could be eliminated. Harte takes lengthy detours to examine all manner of things: global warming (his particular bugbear); the trees around his childhood camp in southern Vermont; salt intrusion; Hebraic philosophy; species loss; agriculture on Mo'orea in French Polynesia; acid rain; yak husbandry among the Ngolog of China--and therein lies much of his charm. Harte gets around, leaves the topic at hand to wander off on mysterious peregrinations, but always manages to pull the strings together and come full circle, tightly wrapping up each chapter. Mimicking his subject, his writing style displays a unity lurking just behind the diversity. Harte manages his avuncular tone with a sure hand, avoids preachy pratfalls, and keeps us enthralled through a sense of pace, a plentitude of wondrous minutiae, and awesome glimpses of the big picture. (Ten drawings)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-520-08207-9
Page count: 168pp
Publisher: Univ. of California
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1993