TEN BILLION by Stephen Emmott


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A rallying call to arms on the deteriorating state of our overcrowded planet.

British environmental expert Emmott, current chief of Microsoft Research's Computational Science Laboratory in Cambridge, presents a succinct and righteously pessimistic manifesto on the human race’s impact on planet Earth. Channeling his inner Al Gore, the author forewarns of the issues of an increasing global population rate (currently at 7 billion and counting) as it gains momentum and causes the expanding degradation of the planet’s intricate ecosystemic network. Disturbing the harmonious interdependent synergies of the Earth’s atmosphere may bring about what Emmott calls an “unprecedented planetary emergency.” The dire consequences of overpopulation are all around us, writes the author, and he delivers a laundry list of human offenses: increasing demand for fresh water could lead to  the resource’s eventual scarcity; mushrooming levels of greenhouse gasses produced from industrial production alter the Earth’s climate and weather patterns; mounting food and fuel demands increase pollution; melting ice caps contribute to rising sea levels; and land misuse is causing the “mass extinction” of species. Emmott directly blames humans for these disasters, since “our cleverness, our inventiveness, and our activities are now the drivers of every global problem we face,” from methane gas plumes to global warming to deforestation. With charts and photographs and a stark few-sentences-per-page layout, the author further illustrates the catastrophes at our doorsteps with sufficient urgency. He also offers several possible solutions. A “technologizing” approach incorporating nuclear power, “geoenergy” and desalination efforts is one, along with a radical, universal behavioral change that replaces overconsumption with hyperconservation. Both, however, pale in comparison to Emmott’s hopelessly resigned final thought on the final page: “I THINK WE’RE FUCKED.”

Shocking facts and an indispensable message to galvanize a world in potential crisis.

Pub Date: Sept. 10th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-345-80647-5
Page count: 176pp
Publisher: Vintage
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2013


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