The Future by Al Gore – review

John Gray in The Guardian:

ScreenHunter_86 Feb. 03 21.56Applying a formidable mix of history, science and common experience, Gore has produced a luminously intelligent analysis that is packed with arresting ideas and facts. The peaking of global conventional oilproduction that occurred some 30 or more years ago, the risks to fresh water supplies posed by fracking, the rapid ongoing evolution of cyber-warfare, the dangers and potential benefits of biotechnology and the possibility of genetic engineering of human brains are only a few of the facts, likely developments and possibilities that the former American vice-president explores. Summarising this rich and ambitious book in any detail is impossible. You simply have no alternative to reading it.

Some themes stand out as being especially salient. Unlike those – pious bien-pensants as much as religious bigots – who fume and splutter whenever the subject of population is mentioned, Gore recognises the increase of human numbers as one of the world's largest challenges. “During the last century alone, we quadrupled the human population. By way of perspective, it took 200,000 years for our species to reach the one billion mark, yet we have added that many people in just the first thirteen years of this century.” With unchecked population growth and worldwide industrialisation, humankind has embarked on “an unplanned experiment with the planet”.

Despite the incessant machinations of climate deniers, there is no scientific basis for doubt as to the reality of anthropogenic climate change. Some who accept the evidence suggest that rather than attempting to halt the activities that result in global warming we should adapt to the process as it goes along; but in Gore's view, muddling through is not an option.

More here.

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