A tour de force of Big Picture thinking in which the former vice president gets his inner wonk on.
Gore (Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis, 2009, etc.) writes that this book had its origins in an on-the-road conversation about the drivers of global change—of all kinds, from economic to cultural to environmental. The author spent the next few years outlining, outlining and outlining again—and then thinking, gathering, sifting and writing a tome that he reckons is “data-driven and based on deep research and reporting—not speculation, alarmism, naïve optimism, or blue-sky conjecture.” It is all of the former, with a quarter of the book given over to notes, and none of the latter. One of the six drivers Gore enumerates is the emergence of a technologically driven “global mind” that tends toward the liberating and away from the repressive. At the same time, though, there has emerged a libertarian puritanism that insists on “the reallocation of decision-making power from democratic processes to market mechanisms,” dismissing “the very notion that something called the public interest even existed.” Sustainable energy sources have similarly emerged even as market mechanisms have pushed “fracking” of fossil fuel deposits, such that—it would not be a Gore book without, yes, alarming statistics—“in the United States an estimated 30 trillion gallons of toxic liquid waste have been injected into more than 680,000 wells.” Biomedicine has made extraordinary advances, and yet, because of “unhealthy corporate control of the public policy decision-making process,” medical care is in complete disarray. And so on, the good with the bad. Which will prevail is the question; if for the good, Gore urges, we will need to see “a shift in consciousness powerful enough to change the current course of civilization.”
Provocative, smart, densely argued—and deserving of a wide audience and wider discussion.