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Divided Planet: The Ecology of Rich and Poor
     

Divided Planet: The Ecology of Rich and Poor

by Tom Athanasiou
 

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Global warming. Soil loss. Freshwater scarcity. Extinction. Overconsumption. Toxic waste production. Habitat and biodiversity erosion. These are only a few of our most urgent ecological crises. There are others as well and, despite the popularity of good-news environmentalism, few of them are going away. In this wide-ranging, grimly entertaining commentary on the

Overview

Global warming. Soil loss. Freshwater scarcity. Extinction. Overconsumption. Toxic waste production. Habitat and biodiversity erosion. These are only a few of our most urgent ecological crises. There are others as well and, despite the popularity of good-news environmentalism, few of them are going away. In this wide-ranging, grimly entertaining commentary on the environmental debate, Tom Athanasiou finds that these problems are exacerbated, if not caused, by the planet's division into "warring camps of rich and poor."

Writing with passionate intelligence, Athanasiou proposes a simple yet radical solution--stop indulging easy, calming fantasies in which everything seems to change, but nothing important changes at all. Instead, do what needs to be done, now, while there is still time and goodwill. The bottom line, he concludes, is that there will be no sustainability without a large measure of justice. Without profound political and economic change, he argues, there can be no effective global environmental action, no real effort to save the planet.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
From NAFTA to America's consumer culture and from the ecological imperialism practiced by the developed world over the developing world to the disappointing environmental record of the Clinton administration, Athanasiou rails against environmental abuse and injustice worldwide. He presents much thought-provoking material. For example, foreign aid for environmental projects is not only often environmentally destructive but makes recipient countries more-rather than less-dependent. "[I]n 1993, the world's forty poorest countries paid $19 billion more in debt and interest than they received in aid." And America's consumerism, in addition to its environmental impact, has dramatic effects on everyday life: "Americans... spend, on average, about six hours shopping each week. This is more time than Russians spent in the late 1980s, when Soviet shopping queues were world famous." Overall, the book's breadth becomes distracting with topics shifting rapidly. The prose itself is often academic and thus difficult to follow. Author tour. (Apr.)
Library Journal
Environmental writer and activist Athanasiou has written a grim account of the world's environmental condition. Declaring that not one negative environmental trend has been reversed in the past 20 years, Athanasiou pins the blame on timid politicians, obstinate business owners and managers, and wrong-headed environmentalists. In six long chapters, he makes his case that population is not the cause of the ongoing ecological crisis, that corporations "greenwash" their records to make themselves seem more friendly to the environment than they actually are, and that environmentalists made a critical mistake by embracing deep ecology. Athanasiou is candid about his use of apocalyptic language and imagery, claiming that unless concerted action is undertaken immediately, there is no way to avoid worldwide ecological collapse. This book breaks little new ground; most of the issues he raises will be familiar to readers. While he paints a bleak picture, Athanasiou offers few solutions. For comprehensive collections.-Randy Dykhuis, Michigan Lib. Consortium, Lansing

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780316056359
Publisher:
Little, Brown and Company
Publication date:
07/20/1995
Edition description:
1st ed
Pages:
416
Product dimensions:
6.46(w) x 9.50(h) x 1.19(d)

Meet the Author

Tom Athanasiou has been active in environmental and technology politics for more than two decades. He has written for the Nation, the Ecologist, and many other publications. He lives in Berkeley, California.

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