From Publishers Weekly
In a travelogue heavy on statistics but disappointingly pale in atmospherics, Kostigan (The Green Book
) invites readers to accompany him on a trip into the thick of the most environmentally tenuous places on the planet to observe the havoc caused by human behavior, from Jerusalem, where acid rain and global warming–induced salt weathering are wearing down the Western Wall, to the sewage-logged Great Lakes. He visits the future: the orgy of color, mayhem, flash modernity, and squalor of Mumbai; Linfen City, China, the dirtiest place on Earth; and the Eastern Garbage Patch, a mid-Pacific lethal marine habitat of trash twice the size of Texas. Post-trip, Kostigen exclaims, Now I see people in my actions.... I feel differently about what I do and what it does to the planet. Unfortunately, his feeble powers of description convey little feeling to the reader (the Amazon jungle is definitely a bit of Survivor
out here) and his naïvely optimistic claim that We have changed the Earth's natural course of development and we can just as easily change its course again—for the better is less than convincing. (Oct.)
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Kostigen travels the globe to connect the dots between countries, cultures and personal choices. He opens in Jerusalem, pointing out the damage done by excess greenhouse gases to icons like the Western Wall. From there he visits Mumbai, which is threatened by rising water levels, and Linfen City, China, whose air pollution, a quarter of it caused by manufacturing goods for the U.S., negatively impacts California. Relentless demand for palm oil is destroying Borneo forests, and excess trash is forming floating garbage patches in the Pacific. Kostigen bears witness to the adverse impact of wasteful environmental practices, then writes riveting passages about how our consuming lifestyles are causing monumental catastrophes. We suffer, he writes, “from a sense of immunity.” Certainly we need crash courses like this one, from knowledgeable authors who educate instead of preach. A Paul Theroux type with an environmental agenda, Kostigen doesn’t tell us to save the world; he shows us the price already being paid for our failure to do so. --Colleen Mondor