From The Telegraph:
One of the many grave problems our planet faces, according to Al Gore – or rather, one of the many, many problems, each of them graver than the last – is overpopulation. On which score, his new book will definitely help address that particular concern. For it would be a brave man or woman, after reading this extensive jeremiad, who dares to bring a child into a world so set on self-destruction. It is easy, particularly on this side of the Atlantic, to dismiss Gore as a bloated blowhard – a swag-bellied hypocrite who campaigns against Big Oil while selling his Left-wing television network (the little-watched Current TV) to the gas barons of Qatar, in a deal that has reportedly left him richer than Mitt Romney. The trouble is, he makes a worryingly convincing case. Gore’s essential argument is that the world is rapidly spinning out of control – that we have entered a turbulent new age, in which technology is running amok, the planet is being pillaged ever more rapaciously, and governing institutions have been suborned by vested interests obsessed with short-term gain rather than long-term sustainability. To give a sample of the issues he raises: economically, global outsourcing and “robo-sourcing” – the replacement of human workers with computers – threaten to leave the middle and working classes jobless, while the rich reap the gains. Our financial markets are at the mercy of algorithms whose high-frequency trades are carried out in microseconds. We are engaged in the wholesale manipulation (genetic and otherwise) of the environment, and of our own bodies. Even if you ignore the millions of tons of carbon being pumped into the air, we are losing vital resources – such as water and topsoil – at an unsustainable rate.
…Indeed, perhaps the most striking aspect of this book is the sheer scorn Gore has for the practice of politics. “Not since the 1890s has US government decision-making been as feeble, dysfunctional and servile to corporate and other special interests as it is now,” he thunders, a sentiment repeated elsewhere at length. It is impossible to imagine the man who here bewails a “crippling of democracy” coming within a million miles of the Oval Office, let alone having lost it thanks to a handful of dangling chads; certainly, one senses some personal trauma being worked out.