A leading environmental writer looks at the unexpected effects--and possible benefits--of a shrinking, graying population. Over the last century, the world's population quadrupled and fears of overpopulation flared, with baby booms blamed for genocide and terrorism, and overpopulation singled out as the primary factor driving global warming. Yet, surprisingly, it appears that the population explosion is past its peak--by mid-century, the world's population will be declining for the first time in over seven hundred years. In The Coming Population Crash, veteran environmental writer Fred Pearce reveals the dynamics behind this dramatic shift and describes the environmental, social, and economic effects of our surprising demographic future.
A 2008 Indie Next Pick In Confessions of an Eco-Sinner, Fred Pearce surveys his home and then sets out to track down the people behind the production and distribution of everything in his daily life, from his socks to his computer to the food in his fridge. It's a fascinating portrait, by turns sobering and hopeful, of the effects the world's more than six billion inhabitants have on our planet-and of the working and living conditions of the people who produce most of these goods.
It is the most extreme, the most complex place on Earth, perhaps in the whole universe. But is it a green hell or a green heaven? A place of exquisite beauty or unimaginable horror? The cradle of humanity or our most alien terrain? Something to be destroyed or treasured? We seem always to have had an ambivalent relationship with this most brilliant manifestation of our planet's natural wealth.
Big ideas made simple -- six books in an incredible new series that explains important scientific ideas more clearly than ever before. Climate change resulting from an increase in greenhouse gases is perhaps the greatest threat to our planet's future. Here, Fred Pearce examines the causes and dramatic effects, and what can be done to remedy the situation -- before it's too late. This stimulating new series uses an innovative mix of graphics, artwork, and photographs to explain and illuminate the most important scientific topics of the day. Unique in popular science guides, Essential Science uses bright, full-color images to make traditionally "difficult" subjects more accessible. Each title focuses on a scientific or technological topic that is currently provoking debate and is likely to have a widespread impact on our lives. Lively, readable text from top science writers ensures all readers -- from 14+ schoolchildren to academics -- gain a full understanding of the facts and related issues. Under the direction of renowned science writer John Gribbin, expert authors describe, in lively, jargon-free text, the principles and discoveries behind each subject, summarize what is currently known, and predict future issues and trends.
Water has long been the object of political ambition and conflict. Recent history is full of leaders who tried to harness water to realize national dreams. Yet the people who most need water--farmers, rural villages, impoverished communities--are too often left, paradoxically, with desiccated fields, unfulfilled promises, and refugee status.It doesn't have to be this way, according to Fred Pearce. A veteran science news correspondent, Pearce has for over fifteen years chronicled the development of large-scale water projects like China's vast Three Gorges dam and India's Sardar Sarovar. But, as he and numerous other authors have pointed out, far from solving our water problems, these industrial scale projects, and others now in the planning, are bringing us to the brink of a global water crisis.Pearce decided there had to be a better way.To find it, he traveled the globe in search of alternatives to mega-engineering projects. In Keepers of the Spring, he brings back intriguing stories from people like Yannis Mitsis, an ethnic Greek Cypriot, who is the last in his line to know the ways and whereabouts of a network of underground tunnels that have for centuries delivered to farming communities the water they need to survive on an arid landscape. He recounts the inspiring experiences of small-scale water stewards like Kenyan Jane Ngei, who reclaimed for her people a land abandoned by her government as a wasteland. And he tells of many others who are developing new techniques and rediscovering ancient ones to capture water for themselves.The solution to our water problems, he finds, may not lie in new technologies but in recovering ancient traditions, using water more efficiently, and better understanding local hydrology. Are these approaches adequate to serve the world's growing populations? The answer remains unclear. But we ignore them at our own peril.
An unprecedented land grab is taking place around the world. Fearing future food shortages or eager to profit from them, the world's wealthiest and most acquisitive countries, corporations, and individuals have been buying and leasing vast tracts of land around the world. The scale is astounding: parcels the size of small countries are being gobbled up across the plains of Africa, the paddy fields of Southeast Asia, the jungles of South America, and the prairies of Eastern Europe. Veteran science writer Fred Pearce spent a year circling the globe to find out who was doing the buying, whose land was being taken over, and what the effect of these massive land deals seems to be. The Land Grabbersis a first-of-its-kind exposé that reveals the scale and the human costs of the land grab, one of the most profound ethical, environmental, and economic issues facing the globalized world in the twenty-first century. The corporations, speculators, and governments scooping up land cheap in the developing world claim that industrial-scale farming will help local economies. But Pearce's research reveals a far more troubling reality. While some mega-farms are ethically run, all too often poor farmers and cattle herders are evicted from ancestral lands or cut off from water sources. The good jobs promised by foreign capitalists and home governments alike fail to materialize. Hungry nations are being forced to export their food to the wealthy, and corporate potentates run fiefdoms oblivious to the country beyond their fences. Pearce's story is populated with larger-than-life characters, from financier George Soros and industry tycoon Richard Branson, to Gulf state sheikhs, Russian oligarchs, British barons, and Burmese generals. We discover why Goldman Sachs is buying up the Chinese poultry industry, what Lord Rothschild and a legendary 1970s asset-stripper are doing in the backwoods of Brazil, and what plans a Saudi oil billionaire has for Ethiopia. Along the way, Pearce introduces us to the people who actually live on, and live off of, the supposedly "empty" land that is being grabbed, from Cambodian peasants, victimized first by the Khmer Rouge and now by crony capitalism, to African pastoralists confined to ever-smaller tracts. Over the next few decades, land grabbing may matter more, to more of the planet's people, than even climate change. It will affect who eats and who does not, who gets richer and who gets poorer, and whether agrarian societies can exist outside corporate control. It is the new battle over who owns the planet.
A provocative exploration of the "new ecology" and why most of what we think we know about alien species is wrong For a long time, veteran environmental journalist Fred Pearce thought in stark terms about invasive species: they were the evil interlopers spoiling pristine "natural" ecosystems. Most conservationists and environmentalists share this view. But what if the traditional view of ecology is wrong--what if true environmentalists should be applauding the invaders? In The New Wild, Pearce goes on a journey across six continents to rediscover what conservation in the twenty-first century should be about. Pearce explores ecosystems from remote Pacific islands to the United Kingdom, from San Francisco Bay to the Great Lakes, as he digs into questionable estimates of the cost of invader species and reveals the outdated intellectual sources of our ideas about the balance of nature. Pearce acknowledges that there are horror stories about alien species disrupting ecosystems, but most of the time, the tens of thousands of introduced species usually swiftly die out or settle down and become model eco-citizens. The case for keeping out alien species, he finds, looks increasingly flawed. As Pearce argues, mainstream environmentalists are right that we need a rewilding of the earth, but they are wrong if they imagine that we can achieve that by reengineering ecosystems. Humans have changed the planet too much, and nature never goes backward. But a growing group of scientists is taking a fresh look at how species interact in the wild. According to these new ecologists, we should applaud the dynamism of alien species and the novel ecosystems they create. In an era of climate change and widespread ecological damage, it is absolutely crucial that we find ways to help nature regenerate. Embracing the new ecology, Pearce shows us, is our best chance. To be an environmentalist in the twenty-first century means celebrating nature's wildness and capacity for change.From the Hardcover edition.
In this groundbreaking book, veteran science correspondent Fred Pearce travels to more than thirty countries to examine the current state of crucial water sources. Deftly weaving together the complicated scientific, economic, and historic dimensions of the world water crisis, he provides our most complete portrait yet of this growing danger and its ramifications for us all.
In this groundbreaking book, veteran science correspondent Fred Pearce travels to more than thirty countries to examine the current state of crucial water sources. Deftly weaving together the complicated scientific, economic, and historic dimensions of the world water crisis, he provides our most complete portrait yet of this growing danger and its ramifications for us all. "A strong--and scary--case that a worldwide water shortage is the most fearful looming environmental crisis. With a drumbeat of facts both horrific (thousands of wells in India and Bangladesh are poisoned by fluoride and arsenic) and fascinating (it takes 20 tons of water to make one pound of coffee), the former New Scientist news editor documents a "kind of cataclysm" already affecting many of the world's great rivers." -Publishers Weekly, starred review. "Oil we can replace. Water we can"t-which is why this book is both so ominous and so important." -Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature
Although he considers himself a skeptical environmentalist, Pearce (a former news editor and current environment and development consultant with New Scientist) is highly alarmed about the prospect of global climate change induced by human activity, warning that, instead of the gradual climate change modeled by the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, we are quite likely to experience abrupt and violent change triggered by the crossing of hidden tipping points such as the release of huge amounts of methane from the melting Siberian peat, the end of the Asian monsoon as a result of aerosol emissions from China and India, or the shutdown of the ocean's conveyer belt regulating global temperatures. In addition to explaining the science of these tipping points to a lay audience, Pearce profiles the scientists involved in investigating global climate change in the past and predicting its future. Annotation ©2007 Book News, Inc. , Portland, OR (booknews. com)
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