10 Billion by Stephen Emmott: Book Review

10 Billion The main message that Stephen Emmott seeks to communicate through his short book 10 Billion is that we are currently living in an ‘unprecedented planetary emergency’ as the Earth’s population grows ever closer to ten billion. He argues that ‘our cleverness, our inventiveness and our activities are now the drivers of every global problem we face’. Humans have created the problem and now it is time for us to fix it.
Emmott, the leading scientist at a laboratory in Cambridge researching new approaches to tackling fundamental scientific problems, has written an accurate depiction of our world in the face of climate change. Information is communicated in clear, bite-sized chunks alongside visual statistical data to ensure that his book is accessible to all.
We are an intelligent race and it is through our own discoveries and revolutions; agrarian, scientific, industrial, Green; that we have expanded our ability to produce resources and our population. However, these great leaps in human development have resulted in a severe change in our relationship with our planet. Emmott argues that the Green Revolution of the 1960s was a failed attempt at solving our problems with food availability and that its failure has made our present day predicament worse.
As an entire human population we are consuming more and it is this problem with consumption that is exacerbating the climate change problem. Our over-consumption of food and water has put considerable pressure on land use and it is unsustainable at current levels. Emmott argues that as well as developing more efficient and environmentally friendly technologies, we need to change our behaviour in order to combat climate change.
Climate change is our fault and it is our problem to solve. For the sake of the longevity of the planet and the prospects for future generations we should be tuned in and determined to make a difference. Whilst Emmott’s stark reality of the world we live in is somewhat depressing and difficult to digest, it is important that we do not give into complacency and strive towards combating the problems on our planet.


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