Radio talk-show host Hartmann (Cracking the Code: How to Win Hearts, Change Minds, and Restore America’s Original Vision, 2007, etc.) applies his gung-ho populism to the global ramifications of mankind’s loss of balance with nature.
The author begins with an awkward metaphor—that the world is “right now tottering atop three major thresholds.” These include an overtaxed environment that cannot sustain human life; a “free market” economy, manipulated by “1 percent of us,” that has “bled [the nation’s] industrial base into the gutter of cheap labor countries”; and a population explosion. A big-picture thinker, Hartmann offers plenty of dire forecasts supported by swaths of impressive statistics, beginning with a bleak snapshot of the Darfur region of Sudan. Gripped by civil war and the greed that the discovery of oil has wrought, and barely breaking through the threshold from hunger to safety and protection, Darfur represents a microcosm of the larger issues that beset the world in terms of future survival. Man’s self-removal from “the web of life” is the root cause of these respective crises, and Hartmann presents a series of remedies—reintroducing worms into the body for medicinal cleansing; rejecting the “sociopathic paychecks” of CEOs; embracing altruism over ownership; adopting the economic example of Denmark, where “higher taxes equals greater overall quality of life;” seeking agricultural answers through anthropological experiments among the Maori people of New Zealand and the ancient Peruvian civilization of Caral. Hartmann puts forth a wide-ranging collection of mostly engaging ideas, but his slogan-ridden, somewhat scattershot screed may not resonate with many readers beyond the disgruntled, armchair-pounding TV-news watchers.
A mishmash of good intentions.