Sunday, December 2, 2007

An eye-opener

Our new book Earth Then and Now: amazing images of our changing world by Fred Pearce is many things. It is a graphic representation of the effects of climate change. Pearce presents 'then and now' photos of receding glaciers, melting ice caps and shrinking lakes. It is a sobering documentation of the result of industrialization and urbanization. There are photos of urban sprawl taking over forests, towering skyscrapers replacing two-story houses, and dry riverbeds downstream from dams. It is testimony to regrowth and healing as photos of rebuilt and restored towns replace the bomb debris left over from World War II. One particularly sad photo is the gouged fields of the Somme. Green grass has grown over the mud and trenches of the first World War, but you can still see the impact that was left. The photographic evidence of Mother Nature's ability to wipe us off the map is very chilling (earthquakes, landslides and floods), but there's always hope for mankind. Pages 74-75 show the ability of civilization to change, as Mexico City shrugs off its notorious smog after 20 years of clean-up efforts. Mostly, though, this book is hugely depressing. It's one thing to hear about our negative effect on the environment, its another to look at big color pictures of our destructiveness

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