Book Review – One with Nineveh by Paul & Anne Ehrlich

Yet, if humanity is to deal successfully with issues of population, consumption, and power, the governance of the world clearly needs to be reorganized. Impractical? Not at all; nothing could be more practical to do. Unrealistic or even politically impossible? Maybe. Once again, nothing is bound to prove ultimately more impractical than ignoring the global maldistribution of power, since it is one of the main driving forces of the human predicament. Corporate behavior, we have seen, is directly responsible for much of the deterioration of the human environment, has played a major role in the generation of resource wars, and is indirectly responsible for many of the world’s consumption patterns. Corporations have begun to slip out of civilization’s control. These fictional individuals, functioning as the tools of very real individuals and the governments they often control, are becoming a law unto themselves in their effects on Earth’s environmental systems. Those who worry about the world being taken over by computer robots actually should have a more immediate concern.

Paul Ehrlich
Bing Professor of Populations Studies, Department of
Biological Sciences, Stanford University

The thing that most characterizes the Ehrlich’s book for me is their balance and depth, in that they touch on virtually every issue I’ve listed in the issues section. They tackle all of the major issues and trace each to their causal roots with unblinking clarity. Paul Ehrlich has been involved with these issues since he wrote The Population Bomb in 1968 and his long years of familiarity with the subject matter show in the completeness of this book.

The Ehrlichs begin by comparing where we are now in history with where Mesopotamia was just before it imploded from abuse of its formerly abundant natural resources. Today, the area is a wasteland and we have a lot to learn from their hubris.

They believe that the major causes of the global environmental crisis are global population growth, over consumption by the rich, and the distorted distribution of power (which is the main force preventing us from moving towards more humane and sustainable societies.)

In addition to their strongly balanced coverage, this book stands out because of the additional focus they’ve placed on corporate power and malfeasance in the world of globalization today and because of their insightful suggestions for reforming the US government as part of what needs to be done to establish global sustainability.

It is ironic that in the United States there are legal constraints on what corporations can claim with regard to their products, services, and operations, but no legal limits on what they can whisper in politician’s ears about policies that will either threaten or enhance their bottom lines. Many corporations constantly strive to have environmental or safety regulations rolled back (although some have taken a more socially responsible course). Perhaps most egregious has been the support by some corporations of a campaign of misinformation to persuade the U.S. government and the public that global warming is unimportant and doesn’t warrant any policies to curb energy use.

Another area they covered which the other books did not was the subject of the risks of technological complexity.

To the book at Amazon:

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