"Unless we can find a way to live in balance with the natural systems that sustain us, our species will ultimately reach a dead end.
That's the bottom line...
We live in a fractured world, pummelled by random information, very little of which actually addresses this bottom-line reality...
This book, a selection of essays [first published under the title "Science Matters"] compiled to help readers put some of the fractured pieces back together, represents a modest start in that direction. It's not comprehensive, by any means. In truth, it will probably raise more questions than it answers. But perhaps that's a good thing...[We] need to step back...and try our very best to see the big picture [so as to put everything in proper context]."
The above is found in this down to Earth, easy-to-read book by Dr. David Suzuki and David Taylor. Suzuki is a scientist (geneticist), environmentalist (being recognized as a world authority in sustainable ecology), broadcaster, author, and professor emeritus (being a professor for over thirty years). Taylor is a writer and journalist.
Here generally is what each chapter is about:
(1) Science, research, and ignorance
(2) Interconnections in the Earth`s biosphere. (The biosphere is the zone of our planet where life naturally occurs.)
(3) Planet biodiversity and how to protect it. (Biodiversity is diversity or variety in living things.)
(4) Natural services provided by our planet and human economics. (Natural services or ecosystem services are essential services provided free of charge by the planet like stable climate, clean water, and fertile soils.)
(5) Climate change and global warming
(6) Global transportation (including car culture)
(7) Food: feeding humans on our planet in the 21ST century
(8) Technology and consumerism
(9) The media and social change
(10) Sustainable planet public policy
As you can see, this book does not just look at our environmental problems but actually looks beyond them to detail the forces that prevent real beneficial change from occurring. The result is a book that examines many spheres such as the scientific, psychological, sociological, environmental, technological, medical, and political. Also included is some of the latest research.
In my case, there were a couple of things said that I did not agree with. But overwhelmingly, Suzuki made some excellent and interesting points.
This book may get some people angry because some people may not have thought about our environmental predicament as thoroughly as Suzuki has.
Finally, the only problem I found is that this book has no references or notes. Informal references are included in the main narrative itself but I would have liked to have seen some formal references as well as footnotes to back up some figures that were included.
In conclusion, this is a much-needed book. I leave you with its very last paragraph:
"But ultimately, you take away all our scientific knowledge and all our technologies, all of our art, and all of our culture, and we are still another species. We need air to breathe, water to drink, and food to eat just like every other organism on our little planet. We are but a small, shiny cog in the big wheel of life on Earth. And as shiny and fascinating as we are, we need the humility to recognize that fact, because in the end, the Earth doesn't need us.
But we certainly need it."
(first published 2009; preface; 10 chapters; final words; main narrative 270 pages; acknowledgements; index; about the authors; other titles (including children's titles) from The David Suzuki Foundation; The David Suzuki Foundation)
<<Stephen Pletko, London, Ontario, Canada>>