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Thursday, January 05, 2006

New Review: Plows, Plagues & Petroleum

ExampleThe following is a brief excerpt from a review posted on PopandPolitics.com:

The debate over our environment seems to be split into two camps. In the first camp are uber-conservatives who appear to believe that there is no such thing as pollution or environmental degradation. These are the people who are convinced that humans have no effect on the environment, thus making it perfectly fine and ethical to ignore environmental precautions and regulations. If you’ve ever listened to the Rush Limbaugh show, he perfectly sums up this attitude when he purports that the earth has been here for untold billions of years and no matter what we do to it, it’ll continue to live on, relatively unharmed by the hands of human civilization.

The other camp professes that the above belief is a bunch of hooey. The liberal/eco-friendly/environmentalist crowd believes that the earth is sacred and should be preserved above all else. That sounds just dandy at first, but when you take a closer look at how these people intend to go about bringing on this idea of mass-preservation, it is plain to see that the strict environmentalists are at the very least irrational and unreasonable. Many feel that our modern lifestyles of invention are a sin against this valuable planet. They have suggested, quite seriously, that we abandon our polluting cities and mass manufacturing and go back to the simple life of farming. Live off the land and mother earth will go on unmolested.

Neither side is correct, according to University of Virginia's retired Professor of Environmental Studies, William F. Ruddiman. In his new book, “Plows, Plagues and Petroleum: How Humans Took Control of Climate,” Ruddiman explains in acute detail how humans, since the dawn of civilization, have affected climate and what that means for our future.

What is particularly great about this book is that Ruddiman is not speaking from the pulpit of a particular political platform. By his own admission, he is merely presenting the pure scientific facts of his arduous studies. At the end of the book, he explains rather succinctly that part of the reason he wrote “Plows, Plagues & Petroleum,” was to provide clarity in a debate that has been hijacked by extremists on both sides of the fence. He also uses this text to answer the critics of his previous work on the correlation between climate and human manipulation of the earth in the advancement of civilization. Continued