If you want to provide the best possible future for your children then you should read this book. Why?
In eight chapters, the book describes the state of the world, carefully summarising a massive amount of factual research on environment, population, land, water, atmosphere, energy, society and conflict. It is easy to read and quite complex issues are described simply and clearly.
There is a vast collection of very interesting facts in the text and more in many easily understood tables. For example, did you know that
-- oxidation of sulphides in wastes from most mining operations produces land, water and air pollution for several generations?
-- more than four babies are added to global population each second?
-- in Australia, over 4.7 million hectares of agricultural land have been degraded by dryland salinity?
-- underground water reserves are defined as non-renewable as they take about 1400 years to recharge?
-- average temperatures in some regions of Australia increased by 2ºC over the last century?
-- worldwide, around 14% of natural gas is lost in transmission?
-- there are around one billion obese people in the world, 300 million critically obese and 170 million underweight children?
-- the assets of the world's 200 richest people grew by $2 million per person per day from 1994 to 1998?
-- the US spends about 50% of its discretionary budget on military activities?
Chapter 9 provides a summary of the previous eight chapters, and in Chapter 10 - Landmarks of Progress - the author extracts answers to some critical questions, based on the information provided in the earlier chapters. Most provocative are his projections, based on careful - and very conservative - trend analyses based on published facts.
Take just one example: oil. Around 95% of global transport depends on oil. Many other industries depend on oil, too. We have used up about half of the known reserves. The demand will very soon exceed supply and that gap will widen very rapidly. In our market-based economy, this will lead to very significant price increases (already oil has tripled in price from $US25 to $US75 per barrel in the last five years). What will we do when we cannot afford to fill up the tank? What will be the consequences for food distribution?
Besides these 10 chapters, there are nearly 100 pages of appendices, notes, references and two indexes (one by subject and the other by country and region).
The author, a nuclear physicist, is very careful to refrain from 'doom and gloom', focusing most on facts and a little on probabilities for the future. And he asks a lot of hard questions.
If we needed a wake-up call, this book is it -- and a deafeningly loud one at that. I read a lot of books and this one is, in my view, the most important book published in Australia in more than 10 years. It ranks with Rachel Carson's 'Silent Spring'. In the Australian publisher's opinion, it is the most important book they have ever published, in 15 years.
If the trends described in The Little Green Handbook are even close to being accurate, then the lives of our children will be very, very, very different from ours, unless we change our behaviour very quickly, across almost all areas of our lives.
Read this book--for the sake of your children.