4 January 2011

My new book makes the Guardian's 'non-fiction choice'

On New Year's Day I was pleasantly surprised to find that A User's Guide to the Crisis of Civilization: And How to Save It was given a pretty positive, if short, review by Steven Poole in the Guardian, alongside two other books, which you can read here. Here's the excerpt about mine (some of it might not entirely make sense without reading the other reviews):

If you still need something to worry about, how about a grand conflagration of climate, financial, energy, food, and civil-liberties crises, which might destroy the world as we know it before the century is out? Such troubles, Ahmed argues, are not blips in our civilisation but "integral to the ideology, structure and logic of the global political economy", which therefore needs to be changed if humanity is to survive.

Ahmed could be charged with a certain ebullience in his delineating of potential catastrophe, which will necessitate "the dawn of a post-carbon civilisation". But his arguments are in the main forceful and well-sourced, with particularly good sections on agribusiness, US policies of "energy security", and what he terms the "securitisation" of ordinary life by western governments. Finally he offers a rather catholic range of recommendations, including treating water and energy as "part of the Global Commons" and eliminating the lending of money at interest. Building more car-parks for philosophers and novelists to frolic in, sadly, doesn't seem to be on the world-saving agenda.

Short and sweet.


  1. I heard your interview on Ecoshock, Nafeez. Excellent. At last someone who sees the big picture!

    For the last five years I've been telling everyone who will listen that resource depletion, biodiversity loss, pollution (in which I include climate change) and -- since 2008 -- the financial crisis, are all coming together into the mother of all catastrophes.

    As a film maker travelling the world recording the sustainability -- or not -- of agriculture, I had become an expert in nothing, but joined the dots in way the specialists didn't seem able. I heard Lester Brown's accurate warning of the food crisis -- but he seemed not to recognise the massive dependency of agriculture on 'easy oil' that dwarfs such things as soil depletion and water shortages. I heard the myriad voices of energy consultants warning of shortfalls in generation and the need for alternatives -- without any thought for the impact on resource depletion. And I heard the economists calling for growth, without reference -- for instance -- to the pollution and biodiversity loss that inevitably results. I also noted the reluctance of people to recognise the 'multiplier' that makes all the other problems worse; over-population.

    So, at last, someone emerges who can brings it all together.

    I look forward to reading the book and seeing the film. I'll bring it to the attention of as many people as I can.

    Best wishes,

    John Russell

  2. Thanks for kind words John. Glad you appreciate the effort, and very grateful for your support.


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