Book summary


The Earth and Us seeks to connect the way we treat nature and the natural environment with what we understand about the human personality. After an overview of environmental damage, the result of thoughtlessness and ignorance, it looks at the difficulties that arise in trying to communicate scientific ideas through the media and into political debate, with particular reference to carbon dioxide emissions and climate change. It then examines the drivers for the consumer society that is the cause of the damage and at how the growth of the global population, which exacerbates the problem, can be restrained.

Part 2 of the book looks at the human personality in the context of how we think about and relate to the environment. Part of our brain, our thinking and our behaviour are inherited from our pre-human primate ancestors. This works very well. The part of our brain and thinking that is unique to humans, however, is relatively new, in evolutionary terms. It has enormous potential: self-knowledge, self-control, goal-setting, moral thinking, spirituality, creativity, adaptability, communication, looking ahead, and intelligent, critical and analytical thinking. It fails to live up to this potential but it is capable of improvement.

Part 3 looks ahead, at the way we might live sustainably: our personal lifestyles, politics, land use, food, technologies and economics. An Epilogue gathers together what the book has shown about the poor quality of thinking in the public arena through much of the twentieth century.

The book is written in a readable style, accessible to anybody who likes to read about subjects of current concern.