Tuesday, 25 August 2015

George Soros On Globalization

Environmental Book Review
George Soros

On Globalization 
Perseus Books 

This book actually invites some interesting reflection on the changes and discussions wrought around the subject of Globalization in the past decade. The prolific George Soros is, of course, a billionaire investor, Number 7 on the Forbes list of America's most wealthy, and is the world's richest hedge-funds manager, with a net worth estimated in 2012 to be approximately 20 billion dollars. He is the founder of the philanthropic think tank, The Open Society Institute, which has given billions to various projects. The OSI was named in reference to the book, Open Society and its Enemies, by philosopher Karl Popper. Soros was a student of Popper at The London School of Economics, and is a supporter of progressive-liberal causes. His selective philanthropy has been credited, among other things, with playing a significant role in the peaceful transition of Hungary from Communism to Capitalism. Soros is also controversial for investing and removing his money from various nations in ways that have destabilized their economies, including his role in creating the economic crash in East Asia in 1997, and he won his reputation as “the man who broke the Bank of England,” after he profited 1 billion GBP during the 1992 Black Wednesday UK currency crisis. His 2002 book “On Globalization” was followed the next year by a book titled “Supremacy; Correcting the Misuse of American Power,” and in 2006 by “The Age of Fallibility: Consequences of the War on Terror.” He has also published innumerable articles on his ideas, can be frequently read in magazines such as The Guardian, and is a lecturer with a number of other books of similar tone.

His first point is that the domination of international finance markets we see today occurred during similar conditions prior to WW1. “Clearly,” comments Soros, “the process is not irreversible.”

“Globalization is an overused term that has been given a wide variety of meanings,” Soros remarks in his opening chapter. Concerned by protests and “widespread resentment,” Soros raises the alarm, stating that “unwitting coalitions between the far Left and the far Right have succeeded in weakening the few international institutions we have.” Soros asserts, “The two propositions that underpin this book have a common denominator: Both the provision of public goods and the improvement of internal conditions require some resource transfers from the rich countries to the poor. This goes against the grain of market fundamentalism, which claims that markets, left on their own, will ensure the optimum allocation of resources.” Soros does not agree. Soros beleives that capitalism left on its own to provide for the populace will fail. He also believes that financial institutions have a duty to fulfil, and that they are failing in many important ways. Proposing SDR's (Special Drawing Rights) at the IMF as a method of creating fair international assistance for applicant nations, assistance would be offered to nations chosen by a board of “eminent persons,” and the assistance would then be audited by a commission. This intriguing plan is only one of many ideas that make Soros truly readable. Refreshingly, Soros remarks that public protest against the mechanisms of Globalization should be heeded, and, as an international finacier interested in supporting progressive policies, he agrees that the market in its present form does not enhance the wealth of the poor in an equitable way. However, while he heeds protest, he objects to protests which attack, in particular, the WTO, and “IFTI's,” (international trade and financial institutions). These he believes “need to be strengthened,” as the resource transfers offered by the existing IFTI’s are inadequate. Most of the IMF’s money is used to rescue countries after a crisis had erupted. The main business of the World Bank is lending, its grant-making capacity is largely limited to the profits generated by its lending activity. The WTO is not concerned with resource transfers at all. The IFTI’s could play a more constructive role than they do at present…but there is a need for a new form of international resource transfer.” Soros reminds us that he has been engaged in providing foreign aid to the amount of $425 million in the last 5 years. Despite, or perhaps because of this, he sees foreign aid as considerably flawed, and outlines five specific reasons for this. His first reason, “it serves the interest of the donors rather than the recipients.” His second reason, “recipients rarely have control over development projects, which are designed and implemented by outsiders. When experts leave, not much remains.” Good point, and were he merely a despicable billionaire, he would not have made it. Soros further points out that, “foreign aid is usually intergovernmental. In some cases aid becomes the main form of support for otherwise unpopular governments,” a rather elegant way of stating the painful truth, that foreign aid supports antidemocratic regimes. His fourth point to me somewhat reiterates his first, in that “donors insist on maintaining national control over the aid they provide, resulting in a lack of coordination,” is basically a somewhat more detailed remark on his opinion that donors do not give up control. Finally, Soros comments, “it is not acknowledged that international assistance is a high-risk enterprise. It is much harder to do good than to run an enterprise for profit.” Honest words from an international businessman and investor. Here at last, Soros introduces his own fresh take, based on his wish to foster the development of open societies. This approach, Soros claims, is intended to serve the interests of the recipient, and be managed by nationals rather than donors, who decide on priorities. In explaining Karl Popper's ideas, he remarks, “open society is often confused with civil society,” clarifying, ”it is one of the components.” Soros defends the WTO as “a very valuable organization,” he considers both misunderstood and misused. “Conventions established through the WTO are under-enforced,” Soros remarks. From this vantage point, there are several issues that concern him for reform within the WTO, and these are labour rights, environmental protection, and intellectual property rights. As well, he calls for reform to “TRIPS, or trade relation investment measures,” as well as “competition, anti-corruption, and tax policies.” Soros proposes international reserve assets that are issued by the IMF, tagged to implement international assistance and sees this as an important missing component. He also supports structural reformation through multilateral development and suggests low interest, long maturity loans to the poorest, educational spending and micro-lending. In his concluding section of the book, the author states that since 911 that the US is the dominant hegemony, and “greater than ever,” but Soros objects strongly to individuals such as Kissinger, and ideas involving US hegemony as having a “practical” aspect requiring the control over resistance movements in smaller nations and the militarism that followed 911. Soros offers “two alternative visions of the US role in the world” that of ”Geopolitical realism” based on the interests of the state, and “open society idealism” based on the interests of humanity. Describing various governments which embody one or the other in their leanings, he explains that Theodore Roosevelt “can be taken as the protagonist of American hegemony,” while Woodrow Wilson might represent the idealist approach. Interestingly, Soros defines the Cold War as an era when the US “successfully combined the two roles of being one of the two superpowers and the leader of the free world.” Because of this, other democratic countries “voluntarily submitted” to US leadership in face of a common danger, and the United States emerged victorious. “Following the collapse of communism… the choice between the two presented itself more starkly.” Both history lesson and optimistic proposal, the book explains past events in a way that is neither rhetorical nor apologist in tone. Soros writes that the general public did not see “under the influence of market fundamentalism” the need for the US to consider reaching out to former communist countries in the way The Marshall Plan reached out to Europe after WW2. Soros calls this a moment where “an historic opportunity was lost.” Speaking further on 911, he points out that ”relations with China and Russia have undergone a remarkable transformation. This is one of several positive by-products of one of the most devastating tragedies in American history.” Regardless, “although no state can challenge American supremacy, we are at risk if we fail to live up to the responsibilities that our leadership position imposes...The responsibilities I am talking about are moral responsibilities. That is the missing ingredient in US policy. It is of course not entirely missing; it is only shunted to the sidelines by the prevailing doctrines of market fundamentalism and geopolitical realism.” Soros defends the vision of an open society as counter to present policy in the United States. “The principles of open society find expression in a democratic form of government and a market economy...One way to foster open societies without running afoul of the sovereignty of states is to offer... incentives for voluntary compliance with international rules and standards.” In his closing statement, an invitation to build a society his ideas, Soros claims, “the difference between global capitalism and global open society is not so great.” Insightful perspective by an international financier, one who counsels us to listen to protestors and to learn from the lost opportunities of the past, Soros is a man with an eye to transforming policies and progressively, even radically improving (rather than dismantling) existing international organizations seen by so many as cause rather than cure.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Consumptionomics: Asia’s Role in Reshaping Capitalism and Saving the Planet by Chandra Nair.

Environmental Book Review
Consumptionomics: Asia’s Role in Reshaping Capitalism and Saving the Planet
by Chandra Nair
Wiley, 2011

While in favour of nothing more than economic vigour for Asia, Nair is in favour of a future, and if indeed Asia is to have any future, it is a future that requires appropriate resource planning against massive environmental collapse. A reputed economist, Chandra Nair opens the files on the lie that Asia is poised to reap the rewards of unsustainable, consumption-driven growth. 
“Given the failure of Western countries to take a responsibility for the future of the planet,” comments Nair, “it is now time for Asia to step up to the block. This is not to suggest Asia has all the answers. But it is to say that Asia has a central responsibility for determining the world’s fate.” 
Nair explains clearly that growth will occur more quickly than many have projected, and that water resources will be extremely hard hit throughout India and China if planning does not respect this dire limitation. 
In Chapter One, “Asia arrives- And wants it all” Nair presents the actual numbers -“Today, the average American uses 250 kilowatt hours of power a day. In China, the average is 40 kilowatt hours, and in India it is 20 kilowatt hours. If Asia’s population were to use as much energy per person as Americans, then they would consume 14 times as much energy as the United States does now. Even if Asia were to restrict itself to European energy levels- around 150 kilowatt hours per person per day- it would still use eight to nine times as much energy as America." While, as Nair remarks, this may seem exciting for business, “be they car makers or coal miners, in insurance or IT, it would seem that Asia’s huge market potential is finally materializing, ” while in reality, imposing American values on Asia represents a deadly endeavour. “If we push the world’s economy towards being six or seven times bigger than now… we can be sure that more and more of those resources will be driven to the point of collapse. The region where these collapses will have the most immediate and greatest impact will be Asia.” 
Nair discusses water. “Water is its most pressing resource issue. Almost without exception, countries across Asia are seeing the amount of water available to each of their citizens fall sharply.” Most extreme is Pakistan’s situation, where agriculture accounting for 96 percent of all water withdrawals, causing per capita water resources to fall by “more than half in the first five years of this century.”
 Not one to deviate to emotional writing, Nair, in creating a solutions-based blueprint for an economically-healthy Asia, leaves perhaps the most important note of the book obvious but unspoken. The act of emulating the Western lifestyle represents treason against the nations impacted, and is an act of war against the people of India, China, and surrounding Asian nations. Most curious about those investors who focus their energies on a “fast-buck” Western-lifestyle approach to the Asian market, is the offensive attitude that suggests appropriate growth cannot be developed upon the pre-existing Asian world when the societies there have been functioning sustainably for thousands of years. The notion that growth requires a model life-destroying to Asia and, by association, the rest of the planet, speaks volumes about the lack of awareness regarding current models of sustainable economic restructuring. Nair comments, “if the countries of the region press forward with turbo-charged, consumption-fuelled growth, always looking to expand their economies at the maximum possible rate, then the environment will be overwhelmed. There is not the water, the land or the air to support such an economic programme. If it were attempted, billions of people would be badly affected. Many would die – tens of millions? Hundreds of millions? It is impossible to say…And regardless of whether they die or not, billions of people across Asia can only be condemned to live in horrendously depleted environments…Asia, because of the scale of its populations, will run into the question of how to maintain the productivity of these systems in ways that nowhere else will.”
 The negative effects of this process have already provided ample demonstration of their force in recent water conflicts, enough to sound a warning everywhere. While the governments of Asian nations and corporations invested in Asian trade may appear to be acting too slowly around resource sustainability, “governments are, however, finding it difficult to ignore the almost inevitable conflicts that will arise over resources." Reminding us that for two centuries Asia did little choosing, and was a subject of Western colonial power and exploitation of people and resources, Nair comments that a “choice” of capitalism or communism was thrust upon them after the Second World War. “In the 1980s and 1990s, it seemed that finally countries could choose whether to embrace free markets. Except this was not really a choice; it was accepting orthodoxy.” Nair states that already policy arising from the “urging of growth on the one hand and restraint on the other” are pushing Asia to delineate real sustainability. As well, where such markets emerge, intense competition between domestic and multinational interests causes business to disregard their responsibility to the Asian environment in order to ensure short-term advantages. 
Presenting the idea of “Risk Minimization” as a “useful precautionary principal,” Nair cites examples regarding fisheries as a particularly helpful template, based on evolving policy that already exists. Asia would “identify the biggest threats to fisheries” while embracing “smaller steps that might lead to greater goals” including “the setting up of marine reserves, the funding of local eco-tourism projects, the use of quotas or the imposing of bans for part of the year, as China now does. Where economic returns (are) already low, it might offer compensation and proposals for alternative jobs.” Nair comments that China already “has been promoting the idea of a “harmonious society” rather than “the pursuit of growth at all costs” and that “through its take-off, Japan successfully shared its wealth equitably, avoiding the huge disparities in the United States.” Another hopeful example moving away from a dire water crisis is that of India, “far better positioned to continue with labour-intensive farming than to push hundreds of millions of people from the countryside into the cities.” Furthermore, “in Indonesia, relatively small revaluations of rainforest would be enormous incentive for their communities to develop businesses centered around caring for trees and their products rather than felling them.” Nair comments that while governments in Asia identify “those parts of Western economic and political orthodoxy that do not work for them, they should also be drawing strength from the fact that despite the relentless onslaught…they have all, albeit to varying degrees, resisted market capitalism’s consumption-driven model.” Asian planners have maintained significant trade barriers, China has the economy under state control, and “many Indians, especially among the poor and tribal people...view globalization largely as a source of intrusion, dispossession and pollution.” 
Speaking further on the economic policies which must be implemented to address the specific nature of the challenges facing Asia, and the Asian incentive to develop “their own distinctive forms of the state,” the author explores the way that the countries of Asia, despite their exposure to global ideas and economics, have not seen their political forms converge with those of the West. Outlining three tenets: “that resources are constrained, that use must be shared equitably between current and future generations and that re-pricing them would be the key to producing change, leading to sustainable societies and economies,” Nair constructs a framework to these tenets. “Fiscal measures: This calls for stiff tax on greenhouse gas emissions and all uses of natural resources. “ However, it is “crucial that these taxes be applied across the board—from agriculture and mining to manufacturing, and, where appropriate, service industries.” Citing some of Al Gore's tax ideas, the author emphasizes that “all payroll taxes be eliminated and replaced with pollution taxes aimed at collecting the same amount of revenue.” If there is a technofix, a myopic idea which annoys Nair, the economist believes it will arrive in the form, of ’Dematerializing’ production –making things with far less or even no material,” such as digital products-books or music, as well as advances such as “‘coldzymes’ in detergents, allowing clothes to be washed in cold instead of hot water.” He praises China’s ‘Circular Economy Law’ as “part of the measures aimed at lowering its resource usage per unit of economic output.” In terms of Land Management Practices, “With total demand for food and animal feed expected to double in the region by 2050…at the top of the agenda are investments to protect soil, water resources and biodiversity, and their continued protection through establishment of land-use practices that have the least ecological impact.” More simply, “the industrialization of agriculture needs to be reversed.” Consistent with the pragmatic ideas of writers such as Vandana Shiva, Nair expands on the idea that “agriculture must move towards a regime of low chemical fertilizer, herbicide and pesticide use, replaced where possible with value-adding, labour-intensive techniques,” advising that Asian governments raise the tax on agro-business, reform land-ownership rights, and provide better jobs to prevent the migration of rural people to the cities. Chandra Nair also advises access loans for farmers and the availability of insurance to transform rural economies. As climate change affects weather and food prices inevitably rise, GE crops must necessarily be subject to strict controls, “to ensure that reserves of traditional crops are maintained and countries do not become beholden to agri-business.” While overfishing, illegal trawling and blast-fishing with explosives has severely depleted fisheries, Nair recommends moratoriums, strict monitoring, and “quotas, regional agreements on no-fish zones,” especially “in the productive waters of south-east Asia.” Social resource practices, where “government must rework the rules” requires “sustainable urban and rural environments where people can flourish.” Social management systems with “a particular emphasis on transport, energy and education,” are advised, while “in transport, it is vital to escape the grip of the automotive industry and its interest in having privately owned cars as people’s principal means of mobility.” Elegantly put, but in the context of the rest of the book, sublimely understated. 
It is Nair's view that Asian countries must stop waiting for the West to lead, or to allow the West to define them, “as ‘emerging markets’ or ‘investment destinations,’ as ‘export-oriented’ or as ‘pent-up’ source of enormous consumer demand. Now they must identify and pursue their own long-term sustainable development strategies.” Nair suggests that all countries will be hurt by climate change, and that international negotiations may have little prospect of progress. “It is incumbent, therefor, for countries to act unilaterally and to do so sooner rather than later, in order to strengthen themselves.” Here Nair echoes the optimism of writers such as George Soros, who remind us that nations are unilaterally pursuing inspiring change regardless of climate change conferences. Nair finds calls for the West to take responsibility for greenhouse emissions, such as that at the Copenhagen climate change conference in 2009, by Brazil’s president, indicate a “disturbing” tendency to constantly look to the West for answers, “something the West is all too happy to go along with.” In the aftermath of Copenhagen conference, China was widely held responsible for failing to meet a binding agreement. Nair sees some irony in this, as “resistance to change is more deeply rooted in the West than in Asia.”

In his final chapter, titled, How Might Societies Looks? Nair states, “efficiency will be defined by how little material and how few resources are used in the manufacture of a product or the delivery of a service, not how quickly it is made or its cost reduced. Productivity will be measured by resource conservation instead of output volume.” Further detailing the necessary coming shift in terms of conservation in “soil, water and forests” and 'dematerialization' of manufacturing, his closing chapter is the synthesis of a keen economic thinker with a frank social visionary and policy-designer. In his final remarks Nair concludes, “Asians can engage the world on these issues. They have the means. They have the tools. And increasingly, they have the ideas. They have an opportunity to harness development in ways that can meet their needs and desires and produce a global environment that is worth living in.” Tackling what other economists have acknowledged but with an unparalleled scope, this important work represents a direct line-of-sight on the future of an unfolding Asia.

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Soil Not Oil

Environmental Book Review 
Soil Not Oil 
Vandana Shiva
South End Press, 2008

Truly essential reading, Soil Not Oil is a slender, inviting book that generates several lasting impressions. First of all, within a few paragraphs, it becomes evident that environmental activist author Vandana Shiva is in the fields, talking to the people who work the land, talking to the people who dwell by motorways and suffer exposure to pollutants, talking in person to a collection of everyday heroes presented throughout the book. On July, 8, 2008, the government of India looked at the dire situation Shiva describes throughout the book, (still an on-going environmental catastrophe) and found it to be of such concern to India that a policy was established “which prioritizes food crops over biofuel crops” and resulting in a public declaration that industrial biofuels lead to ecological and economic impoverishment. Shiva, an able essayist, shares in this book a love of India and her deep empathy for her life-threatened subjects, followed up by hard-ass fact and well-researched references. Articulate and clear, it represents a highly-readable crash course in a number of topics, but in particular, readers can expect to emerge with a thorough understanding of several noteworthy environmental discussions. You may have heard that since 1995, more than 270,000 farmers have committed suicide in India, an absolutely chilling figure which begs an individual like Vandana Shiva to speak up. In her elegant voice, rising above the efforts by PR spin doctors from Monsanto and other corporations (corporations the rest of the world holds responsible for the tragedy), Shiva begins the discussion in a refreshingly open style- “at the beginning” with the story of the automobile in India. A charming description of the traditional modes of travel there, the story of “modernizing” a way of life built upon foot and animal paths soon reveals untold damage to remote places where a culturally-rich infrastructure has for thousands of years delivered commendable, healthy and sustainable communities. The removal of quotas from the automobile sector, political corruption, and the banning of the rickshaw, “fossil-free, climate-friendly transportation” in Kolkata and Delhi, quickly resulted in disaster. Compared to other writers explaining the impact of globalization and agriculture, (such as the essays in Hungry for Profit by John Bellamy Foster, or Marie-Monique Robin's The World according to Monsanto, positively reviewed by Shiva) Shiva sets the standard in her genre. This is not only through the warmth conveyed in her writing style, but for her scientific reliability when using facts to support solutions. Casting light upon India’s shining modernization process, “the superhighway and automobile are the ultimate cultural symbols of non-sustainability and ecological exclusion,” Shiva even unearths an eerie historic parallel in Hitler’s highway propaganda of an earlier era. Here the volume is also praiseworthy in detailing the extent to which deliberate misinterpretation of carbon trading and the Kyoto Accord’s now infamous Clean Air Mechanism have (as mirrored in other parts of the world) served a destructive purpose in India.

Soil Not Oil then turns its attention to the fiasco of the biofuel sector globally, and in particular, the Biofuel and Jatropha industry in India. Now we are moving into the territory of Shiva’s favorite discussion, sustainable agriculture, but not before a detailed and enlightening exploration of the Biofuel sector as creating an agricultural crisis. Biofuels, for anyone who may not be up on such things, have for some time now been understood as destructively negative net, (it takes more petrol to produce ethanol than ethanol produced). Shiva expertly articulates Biofuel’s role as “non-sustainable monocultures that serve to increase greenhouse gas emissions” and “a major cause of hunger and landlessness” as an assault on “the livelihood security of the poor.” It is important to understand the reality of negative net, because while governments all over the world have been promoting the Biofuel industry, Biofuel has also become a basis for legitimizing the spread of genetically modified (GM) Soy, which has decimated the rainforests of the Amazon for soy, (22.2 million hectares) at the time of writing (2008). Shiva notes that since January 2003, nearly 70,000 kilometres of Amazon rainforest have been cleared for Biofuel production.

While not exploring the details behind the governmental decision-making that is responding to these horrors such as the 2008 policy placing India's food production ahead of other agriculture, in this book Shiva takes a stance that criticizes the Indian government for failing to protect their wheat surplus in 2006. A failure to fight for a fair price for their surplus resulted in India actually importing inferior, pesticide-laden wheat back in to their nation, causing Indian food security to suffer.

Emphasizing India’s ability to heal, Shiva explores a brief but fascinating history of India’s (and largely Indian women’s) impressive protest movement regarding GE. In particular, she praises resistance against recent attempts to replace traditional mustard seed oil with GM soy oil. India’s proud history of Satygraha, or non-cooperation with destructive policy, is a current of hope running throughout the book. “In biology, the term development refers to self-directed, self-regulated, self-organized evolution from within.”

A no-bullshit, elegant piece of writing, it's a book rich with solutions contrasting present-day crisis.

Expanding our understanding of the life-destroying effects of agribusiness and monoculture, the last third opens with a comparison pitting ancient knowledge against the spin doctors of cash and land grab. Ancient knowledge wins hands down. Describing soil fertility, (her favorite realm) as something that has never been generated by chemical fertilizers, “the Green Revolution has resulted in soil toxicity by introducing excess quantities of trace elements into the ecosystem,” she helpfully reminds us that “micronutrient deficiency leads to metabolic disorders” emphasizing that to destroy the soil is to destroy human health.

Shiva explains that “fluorine toxicity from irrigation has developed in various regions of India. 26 million hectares of India’s land are affected by aluminum toxicity” also commenting upon boron, iron, molybdenum, selenium toxicity, all wrought through Green Revolution practices. Examining the impact of long-distance globalized food systems and their disastrous toll in greenhouse gas emissions, the book actually specifies just how much food miles have increased due to globalization. While we all know that 1 k of food can generate 10 k of CO2 emissions, Shiva also reminds us of a famous 2003 study in Toronto which demonstrated that our food travels an average of 3,333 miles, while a Swedish study recently determined that a typical breakfast has traveled the circumference of the earth in food miles.

Here Shiva’s solutions-driven writing again takes charge. Emphasize sustainable agriculture, based upon the sustainable use of natural resources, land, water and agricultural biodiversity directs the author. Great news for India, Shiva’s preoccupation with creating a comparable agricultural model have resulted in some interesting business statistics as, “conservation of native seeds and biodiverse ecological farming have yielded incomes two to three times higher than monoculture farming.” “Seeds of hope instead of seeds of hopelessness and despair” are how Shiva terms her solution for India’s future. She comments, “humanity has eaten over 80,000 edible plants over the course of its evolution. More than 3,000 have been used consistently. However, we now rely on just eight crops to provided 75 per cent of the world’s food.” She recalls for us that Cargill and ADM, Monsanto, and others are the same companies that destroy the Amazon while attempting to make protesting Indians switch over to their GM soy. Quoting Michael Pollan, the book asks, “how do they match the stories told about them?”

Not a naiive writer accepting any gesture towards organic agriculture, Shiva rejects the idea of pseudo-organic agriculture that substitutes chemical input with organic input, “this is not agroecology” and explains that pseudo-organic agriculture have created “large export-oriented industrial farms in which farmers are viewed as labourers and serfs, instead of sovereign producers,” a system “built on the destruction of the self-organizing capacity of human communities and agro-ecosystems.”

To close, Vandana Shiva perceives opportunity in what she terms the “emergent option.” This option does not destroy the planet but diverts away from entropic laws through the evolution of a living system that are bio-diverse, ecological, and places value on local food systems. By bringing people back to the reality behind agriculture, the energy of compassion takes the place of destruction and greed. Ecology and sharing, counter to the present system of scarcity producing market demand, inevitably win over what she describes as a “scarcity of work, scarcity of happiness, a scarcity of security, scarcity of freedom” and (finally) “a scarcity of the future.”

Rallying us all to cease “sleepwalking to extinction” the book accomplishes an inspiring call for humanity to “unleash our creative energy” and “make systemic change and reclaim our future as a species, as part of the earth family.” 
A writer with a flair for relevant and even entertaining political and historical facts, Shiva neatly combines with an ecological viewpoint reinforced as only a scientist can, making Soil not Oil an essential choice for any progressive-minded reader wishing to engage even a basic discussion of India's current environmental state of affairs.