Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit

Al Gore (author)

By Rose A Dyson (reviewer)

In his discussion of the environment Gore argues that the engines of human civilization have brought us to the brink of catastrophe. He is convinced that only the radical rethinking of our relationship with nature can save the earth's ecology for future generations. Only by re-examining out spiritual beliefs which have led us into a gradual disconnection with our natural environment can we recover a common purpose for responsible stewardship. Gore helps to clarify various ways and means for the dysfunctional human family to heal itself, both psychologically and spiritually, so that we can, in ruin, heal our ailing natural environment.

While some politicians and business leaders continue to deny that the threat is real, Gore demonstrates otherwise by using the latest research. He discusses the extent to which the quality of our air, water, and soil are at grave risk with problems that were once local or regional now reaching global proportions. Urgent and alarming issues such as rising carbon dioxide levels, the deteriorating ozone layer and the rapid destruction of the world's rain forests must now be considered from a strategic point of view.

In a forceful analysis Gore traces the roots of our crisis by reaching into every aspect of society ranging across politics, history, science, economics, psychology and religion. Like many before him, he assigns a sizable portion of the blame to our political leaders, many of whom ignore the long-term consequences of timid policy choices. Similarly, he is critical of traditional economists who have failed to calculate the true cost of our ravenous consumption of nonrenewable resources. He calls for new definitions of concepts such as gross national product, debt and productivity and stresses that international treaties and agreements must in-corporate standards to protect the natural environment.

Gore is incisive in his call for bold, worldwide mobilization and offers a comprehensive plan for action by addressing issues that involve not only the earth's ecology but also population trends, appropriate technology and environmental education. One weakness emerges, however, in his very limited reference to the current global cultural environment. Countervailing forces in contemporary mass media such as violence in entertainment mitigate the results he calls for from the standpoint of greater public awareness, sensitivity and spiritual rebirth. It is, nevertheless, required reading for all of us who perceive the urgent need to bring the earth back into balance. He emphasizes the need for the development of a strategic environmental initiative under the auspices of a Global Marshall Plan. The militaristic tone of his language notwithstanding, he offers a blue print for change that can provide many of us with a basis for bolder cultural and educational policies than are readily apparent at the present time.

Reviewed by Rose A. Dyson, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto, Canada

Peace Magazine Jun-Jul 1993

Peace Magazine Jun-Jul 1993, page 28. Some rights reserved.

Search for other articles by Rose Dyson here

Peace Magazine homepage