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Like Jared Diamond's "Collapse", Clive Ponting's book studies the relationship between the environment and human history. It examines world civilizations from Sumeria to ancient Egypt, from Easter Island to the Roman Empire and it argues that human beings have repeatedly built societies that have grown and prospered by exploiting the Earth's resources, only to expand to the point where those resources could no longer sustain the societies' populations and subsequently collapsed. He shows, for example, how the fall of Rome has particular and vital importance for our modern global civilization.
Destructive environmental behaviour today takes place on a much larger scale than ever before and the consequences will be correspondingly greater. Ponting argues for a higher sensitivity to the finite nature of our resources and the catastrophic impact on our modern world, should we continue to squander those resources. This new edition of Clive Ponting's international bestseller has been revised, expanded and updated. It provides not only a compelling story of how we have damaged the environment for thousands of years but also an up-to-the-minute assessment of the crisis facing the world today - and the problems that have to be faced in the search for solutions.
Clive Ponting was until recently Reader in Politics and International Relations at the University of Wales, Swansea. Available in Pimlico are his most recent books: Gunpowder: From the Alchemists of China to the Battlefields of Europe; The Pimlico History of the Twentieth Century; World History: A New Perspective; Thirteen Days: The Road to the First World War; and The Crimean War. He recently took early retirement and now lives on a small Greek island where he is creating a Mediterranean garden and cultivating olives.
A welcome change from the scatter-gun apocalypse-mongering which has become standard fare in green literature. With luck and foresight, and more books like this, we may yet learn our lesson. ("The Sunday Independent", London)