Saving the Planet in the Age of Humans
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A serious view of humans’ negative environmental impact on Earth and the steps needed to correct these issues.

“Nature no longer runs the Earth. We do. It is our choice what happens from here. So writes Lynas (Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet, 2008, etc.) in his introduction to this sobering, sometimes depressing look at the planet. With the world population at close to 7 billion people, humans now have the power to destroy the Earth’s bio-geochemical cycles, dooming our own species to mass extinction. Dividing the world’s problems into nine separate issues, including CO2 emissions, nitrogen fertilizer usage, freshwater consumption and the acidification of the oceans, the author takes a thorough look at the economic, political and social impact of each predicament. Using hard scientific data to back his theories, Lynas calls on humans to consciously manage the planet by setting “planetary boundaries” for each issue. Maintaining these boundaries could involve a variety of solutions, including an increase in solar and wind power, a small tax whose funds would directly support ecosystem and habitat restoration and an increase in urbanization. Other, possibly objectionable, ideas include a worldwide increase in nuclear power (despite Chernobyl and Fukushima) to bring CO2 emissions below the 350 ppm “tipping point,” using more genetically engineered crops, the deregulation and privatization of water and the disuse of biofuels. Regardless of the solution, the question remains—are we “rebel organisms destined to destroy the biosphere or divine apes sent to manage it intelligently and so save it from ourselves”? Lynas believes humans are the latter, capable of identifying and correcting the problems we’ve created while steadily increasing human prosperity—but only if we attack the issues with full force starting now.

An accurate portrayal of the state of the planet and a call to action using all means possible before boundaries are crossed with irreversible results.


Pub Date: Oct. 4th, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-4262-0891-1
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: National Geographic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 2011


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