The one-sentence summary
It is possible to fix the planet if we acknowledge the megathreats facing us and take global action to mitigate against them.
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- This book describes the ten catastrophic risks that menace civilization and our planet, and what we can all do to overcome or mitigate them. It explains what must be done to avert each megathreat, and personal action we can take to help. Taken in total, it claims to be the first truly integrated plan of action for a more sustainable society – applicable for everyone from governments to citizens.
- The 10 megathreats are:
- 1. Extinction: of species and ecosystems on a huge scale.
- Resources: we are running out of vital resources for living.
- Nuclear: the threat of conflict is higher than ever.
- Climate: we are reaching the point where it may tip out of control.
- Global poisoning: chemical emissions are out of control.
- Food supply: this is teetering on a knife edge.
- Pandemics: we are unable to identify and prevent future ones.
- Overpopulation: it is growing at record speed.
- Technology: it is largely unregulated and out of control.
- Misinformation: widespread delusion, denial and failure to recognise the reality of our plight.
- Big picture solutions for these megathreats are:
- Outlaw all nuclear weapons, eliminate stockpiles and safely recycle them.
- End all extraction of fossil fuels by 2030 and rewild half the earth’s land.
- Create a circular global economy where nothing is lost.
- Develop a renewable global food system.
- Return half of the earth’s farmland to forest or wilderness.
- Create a Human Right Not to be Poisoned to eliminate toxic pollution.
- Introduce a world plan to reduce the human population.
- Prevent pandemics by ending environmental destruction and banning dangerous scientific experiments.
- Give women a greater role in world and community leadership.
- Draw up an Earth System Treaty and integrated survival plan.
WHAT’S GOOD ABOUT IT
- Apart from the usual suggestions about putting the forests back and changing the world’s diet, there are some advanced ideas that demand attention, such as sustainable grazing, also known as precision pastoralism, deep ocean farming – aquaculture based on farmed algae and recycled nutrients – and the strengthening of global biosecurity.
- If you use an infinite commodity, money, to exploit a finite planet, you will run out of planet long before you run out of money.
- We need to price natural resources at their true value, eliminate subsidies, and decouple economic growth from material resources by focusing growth on the knowledge economy from the inexhaustible human mind.
- Specific things that individuals can do include understanding that our own personal future is at risk, not despairing (we are good at meeting challenges, although less so at acting together), and reining in our demand for energy and material goods.
- The author proposes that Homo Sapiens should be renamed and reclassified because it is scientific nonsense. Sapiens means wise, and our present behaviour does not justify the word. The way we behave is anything but.
WHAT YOU HAVE TO WATCH
- Not much. This is a short, well-informed book which pretty much takes the form of a manifesto for change.