Transforming The Global Biosphere
Twelve Futuristic Strategies

By Elliott Maynard, Ph.D

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Author diving off the Rangiroa atoll in French Polynesia

Book based on presentations to the World Future Society, written at the suggestion of UN Assistant Secretary General, Dr. Robert Muller.

Every once in awhile a book comes along that strikes a chord with me. It's hard to explain why. It's not because a book is well written, or because the subject matter appeals to me. It's because it rings a bell in my psyche as being something worthwhile. Reading it reminds me of my purpose in life: environmental activism. No, "Environmentalism" is NOT a dirty word. Yet, as the whole planet seems to be hell bent on destroying itself, us naive few still think we can avert complete ecological disaster. Go figure?

Transforming the Global Biosphere is not an academic dissertation. It's not written because of the "publish or perish" rule of a university professor. In fact it's more or less a self-published effort, a labor of love with so far, less than 1000 copies in circulation. You could call TGB a work in progress and this, its first incarnation. The author has created a book that breathes... a book that shape shifts. TGB slides on the cutting edge of green technologies. Nothing is set in stone as the information it contains keeps coming in. It's evolving as we think...

They once were called non-books, heralded as the up-coming trend in text books. Coiled books with interchangeable pages that would mature as new details on topics became available. No two books of the same title are alike, as more recent editions keep updating previous data. That's what digital type-setting and print as you order brings to publishing in the 21st Century. Books need to compliment the web, not compete with it. They have to. This book is a perfect example of symbiosis between the two.

Author Elliott Maynard walks his talk. He travels and meets with all the inventors, thinkers, biologists, and researchers he showcases in his pages. He keeps in touch with them as their work progresses. This refreshing and uncommon dedication to stay in contact with his sources runs counter to the tired "impartial" role of the science news reporter. Elliott gets down and dirty with his subject. He's what the mass media fears the most, a reporter AND an advocate. A journalist with a conscience.

It's rare to read a writer who can find common ground between a sometimes rather right wing new energy community, which suspiciously eyes most environmentalists as Rockefeller stooges, with technologically conservative environmentalists who have a hard time breaking their addiction to the second law of thermodynamics.

But Elliott can manage. He makes no bones about it saying: "Our mission is to educate the general public... the book is written in a journalistic style which can be understood by everyone, especially individuals who speak English as a second language." And it is, edited just like a music video, made up of to the point chapters, quick paragraphs and short sentences. It delivers its message swiftly and precisely. You breeze right through it.

There are two different type of professional. The specialist and the generalist. The first can't see the forest for the trees, the second can't see a single tree for the forest. There are a lot more specialists in the world than generalists. Generalists have a hard time making ends meet. They get labeled as "futurists" with no discernable or marketable skills. Then suddenly, usually on the whim of a very successful philanthropist or corporation, you get someone like Alvin Toffler or Faith Popcorn who magically starts making thousands of dollars for public appearances, almost like an oracle.

Already Elliott was unfairly pegged as a cult leader by the media a few years ago when Rolling Stone magazine revealed Axl Rose of Guns & Roses chose his farm to get clean and hide out from the hustle and bustle of Hollyweird. But we shouldn't fault Elliott for Axl's shortcomings! You are what you is... it takes a life time to change your stripes.

In the old days, if a ruler did his people wrong, they'd drag him into the street and lob his head off... Now we have to wait till they retire and die. Look for them riding golf cars in Hilton Head. Instant change becomes impossible in such civilized tolerance. Regime Change is only admissible in far away lands. The devil made me do it, and Western society forgives everyone for their corporate transgressions. Nobody is accountable in white collar America anymore... while the planet's life support system, the Biosphere, slowly dies as a result. We look on helplessly while humanity pisses and shits on all of creation! We are like a sissy girl. Our rallying battle cry should be " Martha Stewart!"

TGB is a practical book, full of cool things to do, and new things to learn, new things to follow through. I'm immersed in "solutions technologies", or as the less optimistic calls it: "technofix", and yet, I still discovered things in this book I knew nothing about... even though a lot of them had been right in front of me all this time, a link away, on a familiar website. This is why this book is so important. It will broaden your perspective of options at our disposal. It will widen your palette of technofix colors to chose from. It will expand your horizons. What more can you ask a little book to do?

TGB is NOT your average "100 things you can do to save the earth, huh, duh, recycle!" kind of book. It goes well deeper than that. It dares to venture where other books fear to thread. It provides vivid descriptions of hard tools already applied in limited ways and set in motion around the globe by individuals, countries or corporations willing to take a chance on the untested and unproven.

The book came about after Elliott Maynard gave a presentation to the World Future Society, generally a rather conservative group of futurists, entrenched in post-Asimov 1950 science fiction group think. He brought them some examples of the more radical approaches to environmental restoration he had gathered from his travels.

That's when Robert Muller, former UN assistant secretary general, urged Elliott to collect his findings and put them into a book to circulate easily to the head of Non-Governmental Organizations. This is what Elliott is currently doing now with his text... placing his book in the lap of those he feels best positioned to put the information it contains to good use.

To those of us on the web 24/7 searching the globe for the latest innovation in battery technology, motor efficiency, nuclear remediation, etc... TGB becomes the ideal manual to explain to people what email activism is all about. We can no longer wait or expect our institutions to match solution to problem without intervening in its dissemination. One of my favorite saying is "the catalyst disappears in the solution." This book is all about making unlikely new connections, and plugging the holes where the rain gets in.

I was going to get specific in this review. I made notes in the book, highlighting in day-glo yellow marker what I felt was most important. But then I realized that's what was most important—to me, and I would just be undermining the reader's sense of discovery, like revealing the end to a good movie. So just read the table of contents! The way this book and its author has inspired me can be felt throughout many recent posts I have made to the ET List and my other Yahoo Groups.

TGB is more than just a print out of website downloads. It's a road map to the best options using the latest tools. These options will have a web presence, but Google cannot find them if you do not already know what to look for. TGB becomes a bible of new keywords. We're all good little eco-soldiers... out to save the planet from the bad and the ugly. There's a zillion enviro-books out there, but few know how to inspire, striking responsive chords, making it fun to have homework again.

I'll leave you with this gem from the book:
"...stores with Skylights averaged 40 percent higher sales than stores with solely Artificial Illumination." Earth Island Journal, Spring 2002.

Remy C.
ET ed-at-large and webmaster.