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The Great Disruption: Why the Climate Crisis Will Bring On the End of Shopping and the Birth of a New World Paperback – January 31, 2012
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From Publishers Weekly
Gilding, former director of Greenpeace International and now on the faculty at Cambridge University™s Program for Sustainable Leadership, proposes that global warming is just one piece of an impending planetary collapse caused by our overuse of resources. According to the Global Footprint Network, we surpassed Earth™s capacity in 1988, and by 2009, we needed the resources of 1.4 planets to sustain our economy—and any increases in efficiencies that some claim will solve the problem are likely only to encourage us to use more. Gilding argues that, like addicts who need to hit bottom, we energy users will deny our problem until we œface head-on the risk of collapse, but when we do, we will address the emergency with the commitment of our response to WWII and begin a real transformation to a sustainable economy built on equality, quality of life, and harmony with the ecosystem. Gilding™s confidence in our ability to transform disaster into a œhappiness economy may astonish readers, but the book provides a refreshing, provocative alternative to the recent spate of gloom-and-doom climate-change studies. (Mar.)
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“We’re in the rapids now, heading for the falls, too late to swim for shore. But Paul Gilding offers some excellent insights into how we might weather that which we can no longer completely prevent--and how we can still prevent that which we won't be able to weather. If you’re planning to stick around for the 21st century, this might be a useful book to consult.”—Bill McKibben, author of Eaarth, founder of 350.org.
“Gilding offers a clear-eyed and moving assessment of our predicament but more importantly, he offers a plausible way forward and good reasons to think we will rise to the occasion. His message is that our situation is dire, but we will act because we must. Essential reading.”—David W. Orr, Paul Sears Distinguished Professor, Oberlin College, author of Hope is an Imperative and Down to the Wire
“One of those who has been warning me [about a climate crisis] for a long time is Paul Gilding, the Australian environmental business expert. He has a name for this moment — when both Mother Nature and Father Greed have hit the wall at once — ‘The Great Disruption.’”—Thomas Friedman in the New York Times
“A refreshing, provocative alternative to the recent spate of gloom-and-doom climate-change studies.”— Publishers Weekly
“A remarkably optimistic view of the brave new world in our future”—Kirkus
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Top customer reviews
Gilding draws upon the science of climate change to warn us, again, that the end of civilization ‘as we know it’ is upon us. The clues are all around us: economic crashes, unstable oil prices, depleted soil injected with poisons to produce cancerous food, revolutions, refugees, war, and an addiction with economic growth. It is this addiction, that in the end, will drive us over the cliff. Infinite growth is a mathematical impossibility in a world of finite resources. Consumerist-Capitalism is dead, and it’s time to bury it.
Gilding doesn’t just rely on the ‘science’ to make his case; even the ‘forefathers’ of our capitalist system, John Maynard Keynes, John Stuart Mill, and the man who arguably started it all, Adam Smith, all pointed to the end of growth and a time when we would exploit our resources beyond what they would supply. That time has come. To argue otherwise might make you feel better, but it won’t change the facts. The only real question left is, “What the hell do we do now?”
Luckily, Gilding isn’t just a doom n gloom kinda guy—neither am I, anymore—he’s actually an optimist. Gilding does NOT think we will slip into chaos. Gilding draws on the example of WWII, when freedom-loving peoples all over the world banded together to defeat the threat from fascist dictators. Even then, our grandparents and great-grandparents waited till it was almost too late, as we have done. But just like them, Gilding argues that when the crisis finally hits home, we will be moved to swift action to deal with the real dangers of climate change, and that during that process, we will find a way to build a better, more balanced, happier world.
If you want my opinion—and I’m sure you do since you’re reading this damned review—I think he’s dead on. We WILL wake up in time to save the Earth, and our place on it. How will that happen? Mostly, it will be the job of you and I, the little people of the planet, just like it was for the Greatest Generation, when Hitler came knockin’. Yes, our governments, and the business sector will play a major role in the early process, because they won’t have a choice; they’ll either get it done, or be replaced. But most of the work falls to us, the ordinary, average people of the world. Read the book! Then let’s get to work!
But he nevers says what is going to happen, and he provides absolutely no factual basis for his belief that it will take place within the next ten years. The other points he makes in the book are already common knowledge for people interested in the subject.
The second half of the book is farcical romp through alternative energy options that will save the survivors. Of course, he never critically examines whether any of these options are feasible (e.g., a solar panel in every yard). In fact, if he had read the sources he cites in the first half of the book (The Long Emergency and The Vanishing Face of Gaia) he would realize alternative energy will not save us.
This is not even pseudo-science. It's merely the musings of an environmental activists. Read the aforementioned books and skip this one.
If you are looking for a better view of changes in the environment and climate I would suggest reading Fred Pearce's book "With Speed and Violence". It is thoughtful and tackles the subject thoroughly rather than this weak attempt. The state of the art seems to be deep concern amongst researchers, but this problem is so large and so complex that researchers do not have solid representations in their models of how the system actually works and will react. What appears to be consistent, despite inadequate modeling capabilities, is that researchers are coming to the conclusion that climate change could be far more abrupt and impactful on human populations than anyone can currently fathom.
Because the first third of the great disruption is so weak, the rest of the book is a real struggle and reads as a waste of time. I would look elsewhere for thoughtful comments or reading on climate change.