Global Resources and the Environment, by Chad & Fatma Arf Oliver. 2018. Cambridge University Press. 512 pp.
The book puts the many aspects of the environment, resources, and people into perspective. It is based on the premise that much in-depth knowledge can be presented simply, thoroughly, and succinctly. It makes copious use of data sets accrued over the past few decades and displays the information in numerous graphs, regional comparison charts, maps, tables, and photographs.
The book predicts neither a “gloom and doom” nor a “glowing” environmental/ resource future. The future depends on how people manage the present. The book promotes an informed dialogue about future directions for the world’s environment and resources. It is not a motivational book, but it does not shy away from pointing out obvious “dead ends” and possible actions when analyses lead to such insights.
This book synthesizes existing knowledge, amalgamates different fields, and comes up with intriguing observations. The world’s information is now so vast, complicated, and rapidly changing that many things in this book will no doubt be out of date by the time it reaches print – just as many things changed while writing it. Since the book began about ten years ago, the calculated time of a previous Ice Age (not the present one) was changed by over 100 million years; and the time when North and South America joined has been adjusted by a few million years. A colleague at Yale who showed very scientifically why Neanderthals could never breed with Homo sapiens sapiens has been proven wrong. Locations of different landforms are inconsistent among authorities. This is, and will be, the future of science: no person or generation has perfect knowledge. The future will be about learning details, synthesizing, comparing, measuring, and experimenting; forming thoughtful, flexible mental models; and continuing to learn from and adjust them.
We have tried to use the latest, most accurate data. All units are metric.