Monday, September 08, 2008

RE:VIEW - Confessions of an Eco Sinner, Fred Pearce

The things I end up doing.

Here I am (well, there I was, so long, so very long ago now), on holiday, chilling out, and yet still one in my literary entertainment armoury was still work.

And there it is. On the table of a Turkish sailing yacht, surrounded by the paraphernalia of a decent sunny break.

Thank heavens for the title, then. It's hard to do a re:view, especially if it is of an eco-tome, without at least giving nod to the fact that where one is, what one is doing and how one got there cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be deemed to be very 'green'. In fact, and this is something I intend to revisit later, during my two week break I had to concede that almost no aspect of the travel industry is designed (even if reasons may vary) to involve much that is reduce, reuse, recycle or anything else that helps the planet. It's all short term, lots of using, going and quick bucks which, when it comes to economics vs. ecology, presses the scales pretty much one way.

Now this book is not only about tourism and, in fact, though there is a lot of travel involved, deals with this aspect rarely (unlike Leo Hickman's 'Final Call', which I have yet to address (and still mocks me over there with all its sticker notes poking out) despite having read it a long time previously - this is just fresher in my mind). It is more to do with the stuff of our day to day lives, and the wheres, whens, whys and hows of how it gets to be here from a lot of there.

First the good news. I learned a lot I did not know before, and it is written in a style that is easy to digest. I do wonder, as I have and will with all such publications, who the audience might be, especially who might fork out £12.99 (now £11.69) for the privilege. Though well researched, ordered and presented, the facts are all pretty much 'out there', for free, thanks to the likes of Tim, Larry, Sergey et al. So you are paying more for the authority of the author to access worthy sources, and his ability to put things in meaningful context. Which, for the most part Fred Pearce does very well.

I'm pondering a book myself, as it is (well, seems) a good way to at least crank some profile and maybe even make a few bob. But there are dilemmas abounding. No matter how recycled the stock, and offset the endeavours, there is no getting around the certain irony of something designed at the very least to stir some critical awareness of the consequences our consumer-driven, travel-addicted ways on the planet and others... pretty much through involving a whole bunch of consuming and travelling. I continually wonder how much awareness Mother Earth can withstand, but only so long as those whose careers and funding depends on them being entitled to go about their business (which can often be a pleasure, too) whilst in essence laying out why it is 'bad' for anyone else to do so.

These are to me the blinkers of the 'green elite', who somehow can't, or won't, get their heads around the fact that most could only dream of being paid to follow a global path over sea, sand or snow, or be called to chat with a multi-billionaire in his castle about his legacy visions.

On balance, the author mostly steers this dodgy path quite well, though there is no doubt his is a career built on saying rather than doing. And not doing a fair bit of what he says others shouldn't, or should at least feel just awful about if they do. At least he does not come across as holier than thou, and more valuably often does raise certain 'truths' as being less great for the planet than some advocates would have you believe.

So, from the gold in your ring to the offset (I didn't) not on your conscience, if this is the kind of thing you like to read to raise your awareness/information levels sensibly, I'd say it's a good one.

Junkk Rating: JJJJ

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