The Little Green Handbook: Seven Trends Shaping the Future of Our Planet Paperback – Mar 21 2006
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About the Author
Ron Nielsen, D.Sc., has conducted research in the Department of Nuclear Physics at the Australian National University and worked in research institutes in Poland, England, Germany, and Switzerland. Dr. Nielsen is a fellow of the Australian Institute of Physics and an active member of the New York Academy of Sciences.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
As someone who earns a living from words, it was with trepidation I approached a book filled with figures. But within hours of starting the book I realised the enormous power and impact of seeing this data laid out in tables. The figures really do speak for themselves, with some help from Dr Nielsen. Under each table he gives an example of what the data is telling the reader and allows you to confirm that you are reading the information correctly.
Dr Nielsen's message is not only that humans are reaching the ecological limits in many of these areas but that in some we may have already surpassed them.
For example, the concept of the ecological footprint has gained widespread uses as an indicator of how much land it takes to produce the resources to maintain a person's basic needs and lifestyle choices. Dr Nielsen says the current global footprint is 2.3ha per person, but global capacity is 1.8ha per person - that means the world's current consumption is at rates 28 per cent higher than global ecological capacity.
The handbook is full of facts and figures that are presented in a way that is never cumbersome or less than an absorbing read.
It is a great reference for anyone with an interest in the environment.
This review first appeared in Government News magazine, Volume 25, Issue 2, March 2005.
In this book the author also tackles the issue of over population that few environmentalists dare to discuss. The chapter about population succinctly explains the relation ship between the global population and the state of our planet and how this is the core problem to it's ills. An example from the book; the author predicts that the population level in 15 years from now will be 7.6 billion people and in 25 years it will be 8.4 billion from our current levels of 6.2 billion and that's his medium growth forecast
This book is a wake up call. Ron Nielson says it is not too late yet but time is short to reverse of perhaps ameliorate the problems about to occur. I believe this book is a must read for anyone concerned for the fate of the planet. It brings to a startling reality the facts of what is happening and what is predicted to happen to our precious home, Earth
The Little Green Handbook puts into print the evidence about global trends we all fear are true but avoid as they spell the end of our dominance of the planet. As Ron states in his Epilogue on page 263, "We have entered a unique century, in which questions about our survival will be answered and our future decided. This century will mark the conclusion of the first ever population explosion, with all its damaging and ominous consequences. For the first time in human history, we are approaching and crossing the ecological limits of our planet. Never before has the survival of the human race been so threatened. Never before has there been a convergence of so many critical global trends"
This is a must read
With the release of the Little Green Handbook we can no longer claim ignorance as an excuse for not taking action to address the environmental devastation we are inflicting upon our planet. The Little Green Handbook should be compulsory reading for every politician on the planet. It should also be studied in schools across the globe because our children have a right to know about the environmental legacies we are leaving them.
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