The pace of human progress accelerated profoundly in the twentieth century, spawning revolutionary advances in medicine, agriculture, and industry. Between 1900 and 2000, the world's population quadrupled, and production and consumption of goods increased by a factor of twelve.
In The State of the Earth, award-winning historian Paul K. Conkin offers a balanced, nuanced, and ultimately hopeful assessment of the major environmental challenges that must be met after a century of torrid growth and development. Unlike many recent polemics that reduce serious environmental debates to partisan political arguments, The State of the Earth provides a thorough and scientifically informed introduction to current environmental concerns.
Conkin demonstrates how the explosion in population, production, and consumption has begun to deplete critical resources such as soil nutrients and fresh water, leading to potentially widespread shortages in the world's poorest regions. Fossil fuel emissions have assured a rapid increase in greenhouse gases and contributed to rising surface and ocean temperatures, a warming that is almost certain to continue throughout the twenty-first century. Conkin explains how the complex interactions between pollution, warming, and resource depletion may threaten the planet's biodiversity and endanger innumerable species.
The State of the Earth, however, is much more than a summary statement of potential catastrophes. Conkin details the long history of global conservation and environmental protection movements and places their efforts in accessible historical, theoretical, and scientific contexts. He anchors his analysis with the awareness that environmental concerns are simultaneously hotly debated political issues, variables in economic decision making, and matters of extraordinary social and cultural significance.
Conkin's mission is neither to proclaim certain doom nor to suggest blithely that technological innovation and other free-market solutions will soon repair the damage already done. Rather, The State of the Earth explains the realities and consequences of ecological disruption, unsustainable growth, and environmental degradation. Conkin provides a sober and comprehensive introduction to the science and history of the environmental challenges facing humans in the new century, highlighting the need to act now on a global scale to reverse these troubling trends.
""The best assemblage of all the basic scientific information about our ecological problems and about how we have reacted, especially in the U.S." --Alfred W. Crosby, author of Children of the Sun: A History of Humanity's Unappeasable Appetite For Energy " --
""Conkin's somber account of the ecological dangers facing humanity today raises deep and painful moral questions. Can the two-centuries-long banquet of the affluent nations continue without damaging the biosphere and ruining the prospects of our children's children? A distinguished American historian, Conkin shows that we live at a critical turning point in human and planetary history. This is a powerful and timely introduction to global ecological issues. It deserves to be read alongside other recent ecological classics such as J. R. McNeill's Something New Under the Sun or Jared Diamond's Collapse." --David Christian, author of Maps of Time: An Introduction to Big History" --
""Conkin offers a concerned but calm, scientifically informed but reader-friendly, guide to both today's environmental quandaries and recent policy responses. His is a most timely book that deserves wide attention." --J.R. McNeill, author of Something New Under the Sun" --
""I know of no other book that tries to tease out the implications of the modern industrial age into the twenty-first century for a non-specialist audience. I think that this one will find an audience well beyond academia and that it will stand the test of time." --Mark Cioc, author of The Rhine: An Eco-Biography, 1815-2000" --
""Paul Conkin is a sober, mature historian with a breadth of vision and understanding that gives his encyclopedic assessment of the human condition credibility, depth, and poignancy." --Richard Heinberg, author of The Oil Depletion Protocol" --
""Earnest, honest and readable. Recommended for those looking for a new perspective on environmental issues." --Northeastern Naturalist" --
""It's a 21st century attempt to rectify the major environmental issues resulting from the excesses of the 20th century." --Central Kentucky Lifestyle" --
""Paul K. Conkin provides a comprehensive analysis of the many environmental hazards that humans must face in this still-young country. The State of the Earth is an invaluable resource for those who desire a broad yet thorough and scientifically informed introduction to present environmental challenges." --www.ebookthief.com" --
""Anyone interested in the environmental condition of our planet will find Conkin's book enlightening.... Conkin provides an instructive, well-researched, and easy-to-read work." --John T. Ackerman, Strategic Studies Quarterly" --
""Surveys the road that led to the current environmental situation... appropriate for the general reader."-- Material Culture" --