Catastrophe is inevitable believes Nixon. Climate change, peak everything, destruction of the ecosystem, poverty and economic injustice, violence, war, terrorism and the threat of nuclear annihilation: the combination of them all threatens to engulf our world. The problems are not ones that can be solved by sticking plasters and short term measures, but a change in perspective, a ‘whole system change’ in Nixon’s words.
In this punchy and powerful book, climate change and sustainability activist Bruce Nixon argues that a global perspective of growth and prosperity that focuses purely on money will only lead to disaster. ‘We need a shift from an economy that consumes us to one that serves people and planet’ he states, and it is malaise and ‘system blindness’ that stop real change being made. Despite knowing that we are already consuming 30% more than the earth can provide, that 87% of the UK population believe the country is ‘too materialistic’ (Happy Planet Foundation, New Economics Foundation) and that the global population is set to soar, change is slow in coming. Nixon’s book recognises that alternatives to the current economic and political structures exist, that wealth disparities and debt are not inevitable, and that environmental destruction is not an enabler of human progression, saturating the book with facts and figures to prove this.
With resources and suggestions for action at the end of each chapter, the book offers hope and an alternative to the grim reality, if people are willing to act. What marks this book out as different from many books on the subject of making a better world is the stark clarity with which it displays the interlocking relationships between the various crises faced by humanity, climate, energy, food and financial. Its message that sustainable development and environmental support is not something that can be pursued as a side project or only when convenient, but necessary to meet the needs of generations of people, plants and places is one that is gaining traction, or even becoming ‘fashionable’ and Nixon’s book is an easily digestible discussion on the subject.