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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Our Earth is a Trust and a Treasure
We are burdening our fragile environment with waste and tearing it apart to acquire, always, more we than we need. In one lifetime even I have seen the detrimental effects of our careless use of resources and disregard for the fragility of the earth. This book is a wake up call for those who will listen, a call coming barely in time, if not already too late. This book is...
Published on March 12, 2012 by MMH

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46 of 67 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Heavy-handed and somewhat suspect, but important
Al Gore has presented us with one of his famously overblown but compelling discourses on what is actually a very critical subject. What is missing in our approach to this book (based on the reviews I have read here) is perspective. IT'S NOT ABOUT AL, SILLY! Oh, sure, this book definitely benefits Gore in many ways... but the subject matter is what counts. I grew up in...
Published on February 13, 2000 by K. Parsons


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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Our Earth is a Trust and a Treasure, March 12, 2012
By 
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This review is from: Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit (Paperback)
We are burdening our fragile environment with waste and tearing it apart to acquire, always, more we than we need. In one lifetime even I have seen the detrimental effects of our careless use of resources and disregard for the fragility of the earth. This book is a wake up call for those who will listen, a call coming barely in time, if not already too late. This book is comprehensive, but clearly comprehensible.....an absolutely gripping read.
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36 of 51 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Olympic-level Reality Check, November 23, 2006
This work sets an incredible standard for what the overprivileged and uninitiated might call "alarmist" environmental literature. It is a definitive work that comprehensively addresses the state of the environment, tracing its historical aspects and examining its societal dynamics, even to the level of modern psychotherapeutic psychology. He is meticulous in presenting the facts and images without veering into untenable predictions of non-essential disasters, as plagued Paul Ehrlich's early books. He refers carefully to scientific information, and the unavoidable consequences of foreseeable conditions. Global climate change, for example, will likely make some areas uninhabitable. Gore makes a profound analogy by incively comparing the tragic environmental situation with the unprecedented nature of the nuclear arms race, citing how it has changed from a "fight- to a process of destruction." Industrial civilization and world ecology have reached a similar stage, he indicates.

His solutions are strong given his level of perception and analysis as a government policymaker. They are not much good for rapid change, however, or for grassroots action. While health food stores already existed back in 1992, it is amazing to witness how many efforts have lead to more sustainable products since then. Unfortunately, the green business trend is new, and, perhaps protectively, he appears to leave out any significant mention of environmentalists and entrepreneurial efforts, especially the initiating of Greenpeace by its Sierra Club founders, health food stores and food cooperatives, Anita Roddick and the Body Shop, and Greenpeace's promotion of non-chlorine bleaching techniques. Since then, of course, have come windpower, hybrid cars, organic clothing, Hawken's and Lovins' Natural Capitalism, Interface and CEO Ray Anderson, Greider's Soul of Capitalism about the ownership crisis in capitalism and the need for employee and cooperative reform, and so on. In conjunction with these grassroots constructive efforts, Gore's work continues to provide an excellent source to remember exactly what is occurring, what is at stake and why learning to take multiple consumer, entrepreneurial, technological, educational, protest, and legislative action are all the more crucial all the time.
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars environmental politics at its optimistic peak, January 5, 2003
By 
Brian Miller "b-rian" (Evanston, IL United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I am unsure what frightened me more, the ominious environmental facts presented in this book or the dangerous impermeability of several Amazon reviewers. If one enters this book with an open mind, the result will be a re-evaluation of how one relates to the natural world. Gore is not pushing for the destruction of the American economy but instead a more fair juxtaposition of today's benfits versus future consequences. For someone to curse this book without even remote heed to what it states scares the living daylights out of me. I am not saying this book should be converted into American policy verbatim. However, if we do not use the knowledge and experience of this book as part of an international effort to achieve balance between the present and the future, then we are in trouble. Or let me rephrase that, our kids are in trouble.
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well informed, but not necessarily well-written., November 20, 2000
When reading this book (and listening to Al Gore speak), I see that he is an intelligent man and has done quite a bit of research. I know he was a journalist, but you wouldn't think it by reading this book.
I felt he had a lot of good ideas. The idea of a new form of the Marshall Plan to help guide the world to more environmentally safe commerce and production was great. Some of his plans, although simplistic at times, make a lot of sense. Many of the ideas he gives are ones that are still being debated today (like trading clean air credits).
When I noticed that this was written in 1992/1993 when he was first running as the vice president, I was suprised. It is not often that a politician will make such pro-environment and long-reaching statements if they are trying to get elected. He also used the book to take punches at former President Bush. I am sure he had more than one goal with this book.
I mention that it was not well-written. This is because many of his analogies make no sense. His comparison of parallel computing with democracy, although a bit more understandable, left me wondering why he brought it up. The book could use some tightening up.
He brought a bit of spirituality into the text, but not a lot. I am assuming that he targeted the average American for this book which would explain his language and his constant use of metaphors and analogies. Unfortunately, they don't always work and people may wonder why he is telling them about the scientific study of the sandpile.
I found it an enjoyable read and showed me that Al Gore will think like a leader. He will not always (he is a politician) choose the best path for the future and not the best path for the present.
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71 of 103 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well Thought Out and Provocative, October 2, 2000
By 
Lon Grabowski (Los Angeles, CA United States) - See all my reviews
I have read this book two and a half times - during the 1992 and 1996 elections and am reading it currently - and have found it fascinating each time. Al Gore seems to truly understand the environmental issue to a depth that is shocking to find in a politician. Common criticisms of the book include:
1. It is dully written - This is true to some extent. If I were not fascinated by the subject I may have found it rough going. This is the reason it gets 4 stars rather than 5 from me.
2. That the facts stated are unsupported - Balderdash. The book is not foot-noted like an academic monograph because it is not an academic monograph - it is a "popular science" book much like Carl Sagan's work or Isaac Asimov's nonfiction. Sources are frequently mentioned within the text and the figure captions. Add this to the copious chapter notes and bibliography and his sources are well credited.
3. Current Science doses not back up the text - Fully answering this would mean writing another book, but, for example, I have yet to see a reputable atmospheric scientist outside the pay of conservative think tanks deny the existence of the global warming phenomenon anymore. Gore simply researched this book to death and got the science right.
4. An excuse for more big government - Yes, some more environmental regulation would be necessary to forward the Vice-President's goals - current corporate structure is not at all conducive to putting the good of the world ahead of the bottom line no matter how small the sacrifice is. On the other hand, Al Gore was one of the first proponents of free-market solutions too, such as transferable carbon-emission credits.
All in all, a very good if not great book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars IS THE GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL CRISIS AN OUTER MANIFESTATION OF A SPIRITUAL CRISIS?, August 29, 2014
By 
This review is from: Earth in the Balance (Hardcover)
Al Gore was still a Democratic senator from Tennessee in 1992 when this book was published. He ended up that year as the Vice President, and since leaving office in 2001 has written other environmentally-minded books such as Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis and The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change, as well as his Nobel Peace Prize lecture Our Purpose, and of course his Academy Award-winning documentary, An Inconvenient Truth.

He wrote in the Introduction, "Writing this book is part of a personal journey that began more than twenty-five years ago, a journey in search of a true understanding of the global ecological crisis and how it can be resolved... it has also led me to undertake a deeper kind of inquiry, one that is ultimately an investigation of the very nature of our civilization and its relationship to the global environment... At some point ... we lost our feeling of connectedness to the rest of nature. We now dare to wonder: Are we so unique and powerful as to be essentially separate from the earth? Many of us act---and think---as if the answer is yes... I am convinced that many people have lost their faith in the future, because in virtually every facet of our civilization we are beginning act as if our future is now so much in doubt it makes more sense to focus exclusively on our current needs and short-term problems... we seem to share a restlessness of spirit that rises out of the lost connection to our world and our future." (Pg. 1-2) He adds, "The more deeply I search for the roots of the global environmental crisis, the more I am convinced that it is an outer manifestation of an inner crisis that is, for lack of a better word, spiritual." (Pg. 12)

He states, "Human civilization is now the dominant cause of change in the global environment. Yet we resist this truth and find it hard to imagine that our effect on the earth must now be measured by the same yardstick used to calculate the strength of the moon's pull on the oceans or the force of the wind against the mountains. And if we are now capable of changing something so basic as the relationship between the earth and the sun, surely we must acknowledge a new responsibility to use that power wisely and with appropriate restraint. So far, however, we seem oblivious to the fragility of the earth's natural systems." (Pg. 30)

He suggests, "Yet science itself offers a new way to understand---and perhaps begin healing---the long schism between science and religion... the Heisenberg principle established that the very act of observing a natural phenomenon can change what is being observed... the very act of intellectually separating oneself from the world in order to observe it changes the world that is being observed---simply because it is no longer connected to the observer in the same way." (Pg. 253)

He proposed five "strategic goals," such as "the stabilizing of world population," "the rapid creation of environmentally appropriate technologies," "the establishment of a cooperative plan for educating the world's citizens about our global environment," etc." (Pg. 305-307) He adds a "Strategic Environment Initiative," "that would discourage and phase out these older, inappropriate technologies and at the same time disseminate a new generation of sophisticate and environmentally benign substitutes." (Pg. 319-321)

This is a remarkable book (given that it was originally written by a practicing and ambitious POLICITIAN!), and it is to Gore's credit that he has continued to support the environmental policies advocated in this book (even though he has now eschewed running for political office).
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46 of 67 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Heavy-handed and somewhat suspect, but important, February 13, 2000
Al Gore has presented us with one of his famously overblown but compelling discourses on what is actually a very critical subject. What is missing in our approach to this book (based on the reviews I have read here) is perspective. IT'S NOT ABOUT AL, SILLY! Oh, sure, this book definitely benefits Gore in many ways... but the subject matter is what counts. I grew up in New York's Adirondack region... and I know firsthand the silence that acid rain brings. Twenty-five years ago I would thrill to dozens of fish jumping for insects in Adirondack lakes... twenty years ago, at the apogee of the acid rain crisis, I could pass an entire day at Lows Lake or Upper Saranac without seeing a fish jump. I also remember the stench of Lake Erie in the west wind and as a young boy being amazed that people were driven from their homes at Love Canal. Fortunately, there are now jumping fish in the north country, Lake Erie has been resurrected from the dead and many Superfund sites have been cleaned up. Presently living part-time in Orange County, California (no stranger to pollution problems), I see concerted efforts to repair some of the damage our society has done. The value in works like Algore's book, or more powerfully, Rachel Carson's Silent Spring is that they have FORCED people to PAY ATTENTION to these things. When my ex-girlfriend was diagnosed, at 37, with lymphoma, I drew a parallel to her residing and working in an area known for airborne pollutants and industrial solvent contamination. Eyes opened, I decided to make the small. personal changes which cumulatively lead to sweeping changes if adopted by large numbers of people. OK, so I drive a truck (and a gas-hog at that)... I am not a vegetarian, and I definitely am not an activist... but if a man like me can be moved to adjust my consuming ways by reading this book, then I must endorse it on a practical level. Come on folks... those who reviewed and wrote that this is silly, or not really a problem, are the real ostriches here.
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13 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You really must study this book carefully, January 29, 2004
By 
Senator Al Gore won high praise for this book from Bill Moyers because he "faces honestly the unremitting evidence of science"; from M. Scott Peck for "clearly pointing the way we need to change to assure the survival of our grandchildren"; and from Carl Sagan who tells us that "mitigating the crisis will require a planetary perspective, long-term thinking, political courage and savvy, eloquence and leadership - all of which are in evidence in Al Gore's landmark book." As a child the author watched eight acres an hour of top soil being carried away in the Mississippi River while his mother explained the implications of Rachel Carson's 'Silent Spring'; as a student his professor explained the profound and disruptive change in the global climate due to the carbon dioxide build up in the atmosphere measured at Mauna Loa; as a serviceman in Vietnam he learned of the results of using Agent Orange; as a Congressman he investigated hazardous waste dumps such as Love Canal and learned of our leaders' powerful and determined opposition to the truth and their unwillingness to think about the comprehensive nature of the response needed. After reflecting on his own personal role in determining the course of his nation and civilization he ran for President focusing his campaign on global warming, ozone depletion, the ailing global environment and nuclear arms control only to discover that no one was interested in these issues and that the media would not provide coverage. It was a lesson in how political motives and government policies have helped to create the crisis and frustrate finding solutions; it was a lesson about leadership and evasion of responsibility, timidity of vision, avoiding important issues, and postponing difficult choices. He concluded that "Each of us must take a greater personal responsibility for this deteriorating global environment; each of us must take a hard look at the habits of mind and action that reflect - and have lead to - this grave crisis. The more deeply I search for the roots of the global environmental crisis, the more I am convinced that it is an outer manifestation of an inner crisis that is, for the lack of a better word, spiritual." Gore concluded that the search for truth about the crisis and the search for truth about himself are in fact the same search. Mahatma Ghandi said "We must be the change we wish to see in the world" but Gandhi could say that only after he was asked to tell a boy to stop eating sugar, stopped eating sugar himself for two weeks and only then spoke to the boy. Gore concluded that he had to deal with his own hypocrisy in such things as using CFCs in his automobile air conditioner before he could hope to convince others of the hypocrisy in their lives.
Gore examines the crisis from the perspective of the earth sciences, economics, sociology, history, information theory, psychology, religion and from his vantagepoint as a politician. Although very difficult changes in established patterns of thought and action will be required, success is within our capacity and desirable in the interest of social justice, democratic government and free market economics. But we must adopt an attitude similar to that which brought success in World War II where the central organizing principle was total commitment to the defeat of fascism. Following the war and through 1989 the central organizing principle of government policy and society was total commitment to the defeat of communism; this was the reason for the Marshall Plan, MacArthur's blueprint for Japan, the 1947 decision to give massive aid to Greece and Turkey, NATO, foreign aid, the Korean and Vietnam wars, the nuclear arms race, and arms sales to dictators opposed to Soviet communism - all served the same central purpose of defeating communism. Even the interstate highway system, federal aid to education and the space program were tied to the defeat of communism. The Marshall Plan concentrated on fixing bottlenecks impeding growth. Today we need total commitment to a Global Marshall Plan concentrating on five strategic goals - stabilizing world population, environmentally appropriate technologies, changes to the economic rules, renegotiated international agreements, and educating the world's citizens about our global environment - and emphasizing actions and programs aimed at removing the bottlenecks to creating a healthy global economy.
This book gives much more than the environmental facts; it helps us understand why our leaders fail in their responsibilities even when presented with indisputable evidence; it helps us understand that we need more political savvy; it helps us understand that you and I are the problem and we have to do as Gandhi tells us - WE must be the change we want to see in the world. Finally it helps us to understand that if we are to take greater personal responsibility, we must be committed. Gore quotes W. H. Murray who is actually partially quoting Wolfgang Goethe who I quote in full because it is only when we accept Chico Mendes' level of commitment that we will work the miracle that is needed to save our world.
"Concerning all acts of initiative and creation,
there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which
kills countless ideas and splendid plans;
that the moment one definitely commits oneself,
Providence moves, too.
All sorts of things occur to help one,
That would otherwise never have occurred.
A whole stream of events issues from the decision,
Raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and
Meetings and material assistance, which no person could
Have dreamt would have come his or her way.
Are you in earnest?
Seize this very minute!
Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it!
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it."
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sophisticated & Authentic, November 23, 2014
This review is from: Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit (Paperback)
I bought up this book on a whim from a thrift store. Years later, I got a chance to begin reading it – and over some weeks, I read it to the end, because it was great. I was actually surprised. Al Gore is really authentic – given that he is a politician... he alludes to all kinds of great things from Erikson's theory of psychological stages to the Bible to complexity theory in physics. He is a smart guy. Essentially the main point of this book is that the Earth is comprised of interconnected systems, of which we are a part. We are not separate from the Earth, but part of it. Great read.
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26 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive overview of our impact on the environment, December 9, 2006
By 
G-Cubed (Granville, Ohio USA) - See all my reviews
Al Gore has compiled a comprehensive overview of our impact on the environment. You may not agree with everything he says, but it is clear that he has thought broadly and deeply about the subject. He makes a good overview of the science and where we are today, and provide a broad plan get us to sustainability.
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Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit
Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit by Al Gore (Paperback - October 31, 2006)
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