I feel so lucky when I read a book that truly strikes a chord with me. Books have the ability to move me and motivate me to continue to live life the way that I do. The Great Disruption: Why the Climate Crisis Will Bring on the End of Shopping and the Birth of a New World by Paul Gilding is one of these books.
When my life began changing due to what I was eating, I never imagined how my views of the planet would change as well. I always recycled and hated litter but other than that I was never passionate about environmental issues. What I soon discovered after becoming vegan, however, was that the earth plays a huge part in the process of our lives, perhaps the biggest part, because where would we be without the planet?
Most of us understand the ways in which we humans have been causing destruction to the earth, yet many of us don’t know the extent of the damage or what we can do to stop it. As Gilding states in The Great Disruption, “there are limits to the earth’s ability to cope with our abuse…we can be proactive and begin making changes today or we can wait until we are forced to make changes – those are our only options.”
Format I Read: Audiobook
The Great Disruption is one of the first environmental books that I have listened to or read. With that said, I was expecting to hear about all of the ways the earth is slowly perishing, which the book does provide. To my surprise, however, the main crux of book is its theory that environmental problems are the result of the world’s addiction to economic growth. Gilding states that the original purposes of economic growth were to encourage and assist individuals out of poverty. However, this origin has been forgotten by many and today economic growth is almost like a drug for many, using and abusing the earth’s resources at unsustainable rates to maintain growth.
Gilding had predicted the 2008 recession well before it happened and as you may have guessed, many were skeptical of his prediction. Gilding is an environmentalist and after realizing that he did not connect to people much when he simply laid out environmental issues, he discovered that when he could relate these issues to money or the economy people became more interested. This is one of the reasons why The Great Disruption is so intriguing.
The book goes into great detail on how in order to save the planet our entire market and economical system will need to be completely revamped. Money and growth will no longer be the goals of businesses. Sustainability and preservation of our resources will be the new models of business. Gilding makes powerful arguments that our need to react will be the same as the need we feel when called to war or a natural disaster. He also remains notably hopeful and optimistic that the world will rise to the occasion and do what needs to be done in order to save the planet and ultimately civilization.
The Not So Good
My only warning regarding this book is that if you are already a skeptic on environmental issues, you will likely find Gilding’s arguments extreme or unbelievable.
The book is written from a scientific perspective, which my mind does not always comprehend well. If you are the same way, some of the information may go over your head a bit like it did mine, however you still understand the book’s purpose. Gilding also sites a ton of studies and references which make it hard to keep track of. If you have an academic mind you will likely enjoy this book very much.
I strongly agree with Gilding’s conclusion that it is inevitable that humankind will need to make great changes in order to preserve our planet and our livelihoods. Certain animal species have already gone extinct or close to extinction because of human actions to the earth. We can’t expect to be invincible to the damage we are creating.
If you agree with this conclusion in even the smallest of degrees I would highly recommend you read The Great Disruption. It will provide you with a multitude of evidence and resources that will confirm that we can no longer sit back and wait for others to solve these environmental problems. We must be a part of the solution.