Denis Hayes,
The Official Earth Day
Guide to Planet Repair

(Island Press, 2000)

Three decades after the first Earth Day, the bald eagle is no longer endangered and the Great Lakes are returning to life. Air pollution has decreased by more than a third, even though we are now driving almost twice as many cars more than twice as many miles per year. The Cuyahoga River no longer catches on fire, and hundred of streams, lakes, and bays are swimmable. Millions of people choose to recycle, conserve water and energy, eat lower on the food chain, and limit their family size for environmental reasons. Earth Day has become a movement, not just a once-a-year event.

The environmental movement, including Earth Day, has enjoyed great success over the past 30 years. In fact, according to Denis Hayes, this movement may be too popular. "Too much save-the-earth chatter can drown out truly urgent messages and leave people feeling confused. They view these problems as too huge, too complex and too abstract for them to do anything about. This Earth Day Guide was designed to overcome that inertia."

The Official Earth Day Guide to Planet Repair is a book that every single one of us should read. Like the author says in the forward, it's very easy to become overwhelmed and to think that one person's contribution and activism is too small to count. This guide counters that attitude by offering information, ideas and resources designed to help all of us live a cleaner, healthier, and "earth-friendly" life.

The book begins with "Global Warnings." This chapter details the many global changes that have taken place, many over the last decade or so, that are danger signs we should all pay attention to. Global warming is a very real and serious threat, and it's hard to ignore the facts compiled together in this chapter. The drastic changes in the weather patterns of the world are only one sign. This section talks about the disappearing rainforests, the instability in the Antarctic ice shelves, the rise of catastrophic weather conditions around the globe. If the intention of this chapter is to scare, it succeeds.

Fortunately, the ultimate purpose of this book isn't just to frighten readers. It also provides an incredible array of information about what we can do in our everyday lives to help repair our planet. The other sections are "Refueling: Clean Energy," "Operating Basics: Clean Living," "Troubleshooting: Clean Power" and "Extended Warranty: Resources and Activism." Whether comparing the pros and cons of different energy sources to a guide to best cars available to offering a checklist of things you can do around your home to make it more energy efficient, The Official Earth Day Guide to Planet Repair can become an invaluable tool in your life. The writing is straight-forward, with plenty of facts and tips for adapting the outlined strategies. And as you read the book, you begin to realize that there are small, simple things that you can do to help save the world. Many of the suggestions don't require large investments or radical changes to your lifestyle -- all it takes a desire to wake up, look around and take small steps to help ensure a healthy planet for all of us. And if every one of us made these small changes, then the larger problems wouldn't seem so insurmountable. And that is a very good thing indeed.

[ by Crystal Kocher ]

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