Friday, August 5, 2011

iPhone Diaries #388 and Book Review: "You Are Here" by Thomas Kostigen

Subtitled: Exposing the Vital Link Between what We Do and What That Does to our Planet.
The first thing that comes to mind after reading this book is this: this book should be required reading in every Public School. As a matter of fact, courses on this subject (let's give it a name with more immediacy like "Saving our Planet" to differentiate it from, let's say, "Environmental Studies") should be mandatory from Grade Six and onward. Heck, if History is offered, why not this. After all, there may not be anybody left to study history.
The Foreword by Kevin Bacon, of six-degrees-of-separation-kevin-bacon fame, is quite appropriate in that our  actions on one side of the world are only a few degrees (less than six, for sure) separated from the effect on the other side of the world.
You Are Here illustrates the Butterfly Effect (the flapping of the wings of a butterfly has an effect on the strength of a tornado) to a much more significant degree! Our planet has crossed the threshold of global warming and into climate change. The "direct relationship between our actions and the earth is too often ignored" and the "seemingly insignificant things we do every day have the power to literally alter the landscape of our planet". Through ignorance, naivety, and outright denial, we (and our children, because the point of no return is only 3-5 generations away) are doomed if we don't incorporate into our daily routine the "eco-measures" that alleviate the pressures on our planet.
Kostigen writes of ten "living narratives", ten places around the world that illustrate the cause-and-effect of our actions: Jerusalem, Mumbai, Borneo, Linfen City (China), Shismaref Village (Alaska), the Amazon Jungle, New York, The Eastern Garbage Patch (Pacific Ocean), The Great Lakes (Duluth, Minnesota), and Santa Monica, California. 
It's been a few decades since pictures were taken of the Earth from outer space. Those pictures show our blue planet looking lonely in the inky black vastness of the universe. More than anything else, it shows that there is nothing beyond the razor-thin layer of atmosphere that supports our life. We need to  be reminded, no, make that shaken and jarred out of, of our genetically-embedded selfish natures to think beyond our average 50-80 years on this planet, to do the right thing.
But Kostigen is not all doom-and-gloom; he presents us with "opportunities for change and shows us how to take action on the spot, wherever we are". Kostigen fervently believes in knowledge to set us on the right path; given the right knowledge, people will do the right thing.
I bought this book in the discounted section at Chapters-Indigo for $5.99 (reg. $27.95). That's less than half the price of a movie. This book will increase your awareness of our plight and should prod you in the right direction. We shouldn't wait for governments and special interest groups to do it for us. You, we, can get on with it!

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