A Moment on Earth: The Coming Age of Environmental Optimism

The state of the environment is widely assessed to be very poor and worsening, despite the contribution of chemists and other scientists to the understanding and the amelioration of mankind's influences. In this controversial book, Gregg Easterbrook argues that the environment of most of the Western world is improving and that there is no reason why the application of science and technology cannot lead to a future in which nature coexists with a larger and increasingly technologically-dependent population. In attempting to fashion a uniformly optimistic argument, I think that Mr. Easterbrook underestimates the significance of both anthropogenic atmospheric modification and the secondary effects of tropical forest destructiion. He also tends to view the environmental prospects of the Third World in a more favorable way that I think is justified. Nevertheless, I found his analysis of the national and international politics of the environment to be most interesting. If Easterbrook is Polyanna, perhaps we have had too many Cassandras.

Pick Attribution: 

Gregg Easterbrook

Publication Date: 
Sunday, January 1, 1995