Summary and book reviews of The Suicidal Planet by Mayer Hillman

The Suicidal Planet

How to Prevent Global Climate Catastrophe

By Mayer Hillman

The Suicidal Planet
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    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Hardcover: Apr 2007,
    304 pages.

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Book Summary

Climate change is the single biggest problem that humankind has ever had to face, as we continue with lifestyles that are way beyond the planet's limits. Mayer Hillman explains the real issues: what role technology can play, how you and your community can make changes, and what governments must do now to protect our planet for future generations. In The Suicidal Planet, he proposes:

  • A ceiling on greenhouse gas emissions by the world's governments

  • Global carbon rationing to reduce our individal carbon outputs to a fair and ecologically safe level

  • Helpful guidelines for the home, travel, and leisure

  • And much, much more.

Featuring the very latest information on global warming completely revised to include U.S. facts and figures, The Suicidal Planet takes us out of the problem and into the solution of our international crisis.

Chapter One

Beyond the Planet’s Limits

Climate Change: Why, How, and What Next?

Climate change is the most serious environmental threat that the world has ever faced. The dangers can hardly be exaggerated. Climate scientists predict that by the end of this century, temperatures could rise 10°F worldwide. But even if they rise by “just” 5°F, major parts of the earth’s surface could become uninhabitable and many species on the planet could be wiped out. Just within the next fifty years, there will be more heat waves, higher summer temperatures, fewer cold winters, and rising sea levels. As a consequence, hundreds of millions of people will be at serious risk from flooding, there will be a huge loss of life from excessively hot weather, diseases from warmer regions will become established, some species and habitats will be lost forever, and patterns of agriculture and business will have to change radically. And then, before too long, the whole world ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse

The Suicidal Planet is not an enjoyable read, but it is, arguably, a necessary one. In the first section, the authors lay out the problem as they see it. If we continue on our current course, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that average world temperatures will rise between 2.5°F and 10.4°F between 1990 and 2100. Temperature rises in currently colder areas would be more extreme, with Alaska, Canada and Northern Asia rising by 18°F.

To put things in perspective, the global temperature shift between the last Ice Age and now is believed to be 10°F; and an estimated 11°F increase in world temperatures was sufficient to wipe out 95% of species at the end of the Permian Period 250 million years ago.

Rationing cards could save our planet's environment, but it's difficult to see the world's governments ever agreeing to such drastic levels of rationing in time to make a difference. However, perhaps the threat of rationing cards will be enough to drive new technologies, encourage sensible cutbacks in consumption.

We have rated The Suicidal Planet a "3" (average) because of the narrow focus of its solution. In their efforts to evangelize carbon rationing, the authors downplay the potential for technical solutions that can go at least part way to solving global warming.  Worse, they effectively ignore population management as part of the solution.  Even though population growth (up six-fold in 200 years from one billion to six billion people) surely must be recognized as a key contributor to global emissions, population management plays no part in Suicidal Planet's proposed solution.   (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).

Full Review Members Only (957 words).

Media Reviews
Booklist - Colleen Mondor

Clearly a lot of work went into the crafting of this book's arguments and the gathering of its wealth of information, however off-putting the perspective and conclusion may be for some readers.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. [A] comprehensive, concise and beautifully organized overview of an undeniably important issue make it a must-read for anyone even slightly concerned about our future on this planet.

The Guardian (UK)

Hillman's political thinking might be disputable, but he provides vital, practical information to help individuals adopt an energy-thrifty lifestyle.

The Independent (UK)

Mayer Hillman advocates radical changes that would ensure a future for our children.

New Scientist (UK)

A small classic on a big topic. Practical but visionary . . . Mayer Hillman has a way of getting to the heart of things.

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Beyond the Book

According to The Suicidal Planet:

  • On a per capita basis the USA contributes 5-times the global average of carbon emissions. The European Community's per capita contribution is half that of the USA. China's per capita contribution is less than 1/5 of the USA. At the bottom of the league table are countries like Afghanistan that contribute less than 500th of the USA's levels on a per capita basis.

  • If everybody consumed as much as individuals in the USA, we would need 5 planets from which to provide the resources and deal with the waste.

  • Global temperatures rose by 1.1°F in the last century, with two-thirds of this in the past 40 years. Alaska has seen an average temperature increase of 4°F since ...

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