How to Read…The End of the World


Since humans became self-aware enough to acknowledge our own mortality, we have spent an inordinate amount of time speculating on the end of the world. This momentous event has been predicted to coincide with every major piece of history, from the recent Millennium debacle to the re-emergence of the New Kids on the Block. And, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, we’re all still here.

Now the big day people are getting antsy about is December 21, 2012 on the Mesoamerican Long Count Calendar used by the ancient Mayans. The concept that this date represents our demise has been popularized in contemporary media while being derided by most scientists as a complete fabrication and misinterpretation.

Compelling, intelligent and heartbreaking, these authors offer realistic views on the state of the world as well as cautious optimism for the future. None discuss December 21, 2012 as a watershed date for the fall of civilization, only that action now will prevent tragedy in the future. With that in mind, it’s doubtful that John Cusack or Nicholas Cage will be playing a part in the feature film adaptations…

Thomas L. Friedman, Hot, Flat, and Crowded
4.5 Stars out of 5
A three-time Pulitzer Prize winner, Thomas L. Friedman discusses how the direction of the global community, with the predominant factors being climate change and an ever-growing consumer middle-class, is rapidly destroying the planet. He points out that despite the rise of other nations, the U.S. is still the most likely country to lead the charge in saving the planet by bringing back the creativity, boldness and focus it lost after 9/11.

Taras Grescoe, Bottomfeeder
4.5 Stars out of 5
How do we eat seafood ethically? The journey to answer this question is the core of Taras Grescoe’s book. What he finds are a series of absolute horrors the world over, driven purely by a global consumer base that wants what it wants no matter the consequences. This book exposes the simple reality of aquaculture the world over; it is poorly managed, corrupt beyond belief and, simply put, savage to a point that you might never eat seafood again.

Raj Patel, Stuffed and Starved
4.5 Stars out of 5
Without qualification, this book is nothing less than an indictment of the global agribusiness structure and its thoroughly negative effects on the world. He discusses the irony that one part of the world suffers from obesity while the part of the world that supplies it with food is quite literally starving. Patel, in addition to analyzing the sick realities of modern food distribution, also discusses the means by which we can correct these imbalances.

Fareed Zakaria, The Post-American World
4.5 Stars out of 5
An author, journalist and television personality, Fareed Zakaria has made a career discussing international relations as well as the effect of globalization on America. This book does a superb job analyzing how the world as a whole is moving away from an American dominated existence and what the United States needs to do to thrive in, if not lead, this new world order.

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