Our Planet and the Future

In honor of Earth Day, our Review of the Week features a fresh take on - and a road map for - global climate change

Earth at risk : natural capital and the quest for sustainability

Henry, Claude. by Claude Henry and Laurence Tubiana Columbia, 2018
360p bibl index, 9780231162524 $35.00, 9780231544917 $34.99

Many books written about the global natural environment go in one of two directions. They describe in intricate detail why things are so bad (and are not likely to get better), or they describe a picture in which humans can reverse the problems of the past. In sum, human beings are villains or heroes. Henry (Columbia) and Tubiana (Sciences Po, France) offer a more balanced approach. On the one hand, they do not hold back in describing how devastating things are across the globe. We are undermining our natural capital at a brutal clip. There are almost no good stories to be told. On the other hand, the authors make a detailed argument that our best chance for survival, and rethinking human existence, is through a deep commitment to sustainability in all of its facets. They acknowledge mistakes that have been made so far in the shift to a sustainable global system. And they see a number of bumps along the road ahead. But theirs is a grounded and ambitious road map that helps us think not only about climate change, but about related concerns such as biodiversity and soil erosion.

Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through professionals.
Reviewer: M. C. Stephan, Washington State University
Subject: Social & Behavioral Sciences – Political Science
Choice Issue: Jul 2018