In his tenth book, Ashworth urges ecologists to concede that economics is as natural as an old-growth forest and ought to be utilized, not despised. His tone of mild admonition begins with a cautionary tale: the Anasazi's abandonment of their Mesa Verde complex in Colorado. Ashworth presents the Anasazi case as a microcosmic lesson in the costs of overusing one's local resources, which immediately interests the readers and brings them toward the larger lesson he hopes to instill. Ashworth is a supple stylist who injects his facts, anecdotes, and assertions in a constantly enlivening manner. His unreserved empathy for the environmental cause may not convert his readers, for he challenges such staunch beliefs as "buying green" or imposing more regulation begets a better ecology. What they will appreciate and ponder, though, is the force of his explanations that digesting a few economic notions serves their goals better than the moralistic rejection of economic growth--a great way to sugar the pill. This could shoulder its way among the green classics, so libraries beware.
According to Ashworth, a solution to the seemingly conflicting values of a healthy environment and a thriving economy lies neither in wilderness preservation nor free market economic growth, but in a third goal of adaptability and change. Written in a lively, engaging style and blending history and science with his own experience and considerable research, Ashworth argues that if we really want to save the earth, we have to stop viewing environmental destruction as morally wrong and start treating it as fiscally irresponsible. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)