Now I'm getting the chance to read books I didn't have time for before. Think of me whenever you see the slogan "So many books, so little time!" Now I've got the time.  Cheers, Fred.

Hope on Earth: A Conversation

Book Number: 
Date Fred Read: 
February 2018
Fred's Rating: 
Total Pages: 
Chicago Press

Paul R. Ehrlich is the Bing Professor of Population Studies and president of the Center for Conservation Biology at Stanford. Michael Charles Tobias is an ecologist, author, filmmaker, and president of the Dancing Star Foundation. He focuses on biodiversity conservation, global environment education, and animal protection. This was a gift book.

I was given the hardcover book but I give here the Amazon website for the Kindle edition:

[None of the ISBN-10, ISBN-13, or ASIN numbers on Amazon’s websites for the three editions (Kindle, hardcover, or paperback) are recognized by Amazon, thus the ‘no image Circle' appears. I think this new change by Amazon is not good. However, you can see the images of this books' covers at the website above.]

The home page has some good reviews. The first home page review is good (click on ‘Read more’). Two very good reviews are the first two under the heading of Top Customer Reviews. These three reviews should suffice to tell the interested reader what this book contains. My friend who sent me this book told me it provides an excellent summary of current concerns of the authors. In 1970 I had read the explosive bestseller by Paul Ehrlich: Population Bomb, The * Population Control or Race To Oblivion. It was a source of very many heated comments, both pro and con, in the early 70s. It raised questions in the minds of many people, from those who had never heard of the term ecology before to those who were ecologists. I have never read any books by Michael Tobias, although his name was familiar to me, probably from the science magazines and/or the various science emails that I have been getting for the past few decades.

To see the style of this conversation book, I suggest you use Amazon’s ‘Look inside’ option and read the beginnings of this book. The 2-pp Prelude is not included in the hardcover edition but several pages of the 57-pp Chapter 1 – Ethical Ambiguities – are included in the hardcover edition. I suggest you read the Kindle edition; it skips nothing until you come to page 9 where it ends. However, the first nine pages of Chapter 1 are sufficient to indicate the style of their conversation. As one should expect, Paul Ehrlich says more about the rapid world’s population growth and Michael Tobias says more about the rapid decline of many species of flora and fauna. But there is overall agreement about the importance of these topics for planet earth. As my friend told me, this book is a good summary of their fields of study.

I found some surprises in the greater diversity of flora and fauna but little new about people, except for the lack of adequate policies for humans to learn to live by. In their Afterword, the authors propose “the following few personal steps that would, if fully embraced by the majority of those alive in this human generation, go a long way toward ensuring a future for at least some viable portion of our species, and for populations of other species well into the future.” Some of the following bullets are a single sentence, but others are longer. I edited the longer ones to make the following bullets more concise:

• Have no more than one child, or none at all.
• Try to reduce your consumption, one item and one day at a time.
• Try to reduce your taste buds to eat more plants; walk or ride a bicycle whenever you can.
• Ignore those who would ridicule some old clichés about living as nothing other than stupidity.
• Plant a native tree or shrub that will enrich the soil and the quality of life for others.
• Become environmentally informed before casting your vote or in your next purchase.
• Remember we are social animals; join an environmental or social justice group.
• Above all, do something. Don’t face a deteriorating future with equanimity.

The last paragraph has an important word: hope. “And to end on a happy note, the scientific community has begun to shout out about the human predicament. A recent example is the Consensus Statement of Global Scientists (reprinted in the [3-pp] appendix). We, too, add their shout here – let’s hope the public and the politicians are listening. They are in China at least, as demonstrated by Michael’s article in the [5-pp] recommended reading."

The main topics of discussion would seem to suggest that hope is wishful thinking. There is little in this book to support the existence of a large enough fraction of the world’s population to give us hope. So it seems to me that the authors are overly optimistic in this book entitled Hope on Earth. I would surmise that their using the word hope in the title of this book would attract more people to read it.

I’m glad I was given this book. I hope more people will get the messages in it (or in many other sources) in time to assure the future of humanity. I rate it at four stars.