We’re slow but not stupid

by | 27 Apr 2012 | Reviews | 0 comments

The Great Disruption, cover of

Whimsical Wave to Hokusai: Not only is the cover of the United Kingdom edition a delight, its subtitle is in succinct contrast to its United States counterpart—Why the Climate Crisis will Bring on the End of Shopping and the Birth of a New World. Cover image Bloomsbury Press

This book’s got it all.

The Great Disruption explains why and how two huge crises will hit the world at virtually the same time—rather imminently—and how, author Paul Gilding believes, we can not only survive, but thrive.

Gilding reckons global climate change and global economic crisis are now inevitable. The good news is we already know how to fix it, mostly, but it’s not widely distributed, yet:

We are heading for a crisis-driven choice. We either allow collapse to overtake us or develop a new sustainable economic model. We will choose the latter. We may be slow, but we’re not stupid.

Now the bad news: Not all of us will survive—we will loose many endangered species, heaps of humans—and our world will be vastly different after we pull through. Before reading this I thought global warming was the biggest challenge facing us, but I was surprised to learn that it is only a symptom of a deeper malaise—unlimited economic growth on a finite planet. One chapter that deals with this is titled: Yes, There is Life After Shopping—Gilding’s sharp wit and street-wise smarts enliven a heavy message.

The author often likens these impending double crises to the World War II era. The denials, the ‘great awakening’ to an inevitable global crisis, the swift unity to marshal all forces necessary to defeat the enemy and the huge changes to our lives afterwards. This time, however, it is a war for everyone’s survival and we are all on the same side. He calls for a ‘one degree war’ in three phases, and introduces us to the power of ‘creative destruction’ on steroids. Churchill is oft quoted, as are many experts from an astonishing array of sources. Gilding recommends 12, but I easily listed 25. The thorough index is valuable tool for an inquiring mind.

Paul Gilding is described as an international thought leader and advocate for sustainability, a former head of Greenpeace International, creator–builder–boss of two green consulting firms to top chief executives, as well as non-governmental organisations. He is member of Cambridge University’s programme for Sustainability Leadership, etc. He blogs and has a nuggety wee newsletter: The Cockatoo Chronicles. He comes from good Aussie-battler stock, worked for the builders labourers union, then the military, and now lives in Tasmania with his wife and kids, growing blueberries and hope.

The Great Disruption, cover of

Another Great Disruption: Paul Gilding appears to have been powerless to resist using the title chosen by repentant neoconservative The End of History and the Last Man Francis Fukuyama for his, since self-questioned, 1999 work. Cover image Barnes & Noble

This is a highly readable book, an excellent primer for novices—challenging for sure, but persevere as it’s worth it, if you are keen to get on top of this stuff.

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