“The greenhouse effect is us, and it is specifically us in the Western world.” This is one of the messages at the beginning of Anita Gordon and David Suzuki’s startling view of our future on Earth. More than any other time in history, the 1990s have marked a turning point for human civilization. Not only are we facing ecological disasters that will affect our ability to survive, but the crisis is forcing us to reexamine the entire value system that has governed our lives for the past two thousand years.
Gordon and Suzuki warn us of the transition we will need to make if we are to arrive safely in the next century. More than a book on the environment, this is a book about us as a species: our shortsightedness, our failure to read the warnings, our inability to grasp the significance of our actions-and the tough decisions we have to make in order to save ourselves.
The power of the book lies in the consensus of the many voices, those of scientists and other scholars, that speak through it. The components of our predicament—global warming, soil erosion, acid rain, species depletion, ozone damage, rainforest destruction, overpopulation—are quantified with authority. And never before has such a strong consensus been expressed in a single warning. The message we receive is that our actions are taking place in a political and economic world that demands radical change.
In an effort to counteract this blueprint for disaster, Gordon and Suzuki present a resounding rebuttal of technological optimism and the belief that continued economic growth is a prerequisite for environmental reform. The intellectual fog of sustainable development is incisively dispelled, and in its place the authors suggest practical contributions that individuals as well as governments can make toward creating a “conserver society.”