Stephen Emmott. July Find this book:. It took the form of a lecture with presentation slides, and by all accounts people including critics left the theatre informed and worried about the effect of rising population and the stress the planet is under, if a little hopeless about the lack of options.
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Stephen Emmott, who has produced a book of apocalyptic demography to make Robert Malthus blush, reckons she need not have bothered. As a species, he suggests, we are inclined to do just that — turn away from the reality, shield our eyes from the consequences of our actions and our appetites. Perhaps that is why his short book is wrapped in a DayGlo orange cover.
Like a golf ball for the wayward driver, he suspects that his message of doom is prone to getting hit into the long grass. Clad in such a colour, however, 10 Billion is not easy to lose or ignore. The whole thing is set out in large, often bold type, with bullet points taking up less than half of each page, sometimes as little as a line. It can be wolfed down in barely more than an hour.
On occasion, this is detrimental to his argument, as any concept longer than a paragraph gets segmented and disjointed over several pages. And it can also feel hectoring, as though Emmott views the rest of us as recalcitrant children: self-obsessed, shallow, and prone to running amok. Ten Billion, Royal Court Upstairs, review. In writing about death, all life is there.
Earth and all the hot topics. But as he himself admits, this is not far short of the truth. For though 10 Billion might have started out as a work of scientific enquiry, it increasingly appears to be driven by anger. In this he is hardly alone. But the cumulative effect of his uncluttered, unadorned prose, buttressed with graphs and illustrations, is significant.
Even if one is a fully signed up climate-change believer, this can be hard to take. After all, one likes to think that when faced with critical and immediate challenges, man is able to change his behaviour radically and rapidly. Think of the Second World War — needs must. The difficulty with this response is that while most of us need no convincing that environmental problems are of critical importance, we struggle to digest the idea that they are immediate.
The cataclysm is always to come, while the behaviour fuelling that apparently future fallout — outrageous consumption — is, for those of us doing the consuming, very present, and very fun. Emmott, however, does not struggle to bridge this gap between cause and effect. He does an excellent job of showing how we are changing the world around us for the worse, right now. Which is why he has no faith in us changing our behaviour.
It is not lack of evidence, he writes, that is preventing us changing our ways. But what about human ingenuity, one cries? What about our ability to engineer our way out of our predicament. His answer to this is that previous revolutions have depended on using resources in a more intensive way, for example by using fertilisers to increase yields. But such behaviour is now part of the problem. In this, he is like an Old Testament prophet, shaking his head at the iniquity of man and looking to the skies, waiting for the rains to fall.
It is a tribute to the clarity of his message that, as a result, anyone not immediately expecting to meet their maker, and certainly anyone with young children, will start thinking about the need to build an ark. Follow TelegraphBooks. Love puzzles? Get the best at Telegraph Puzzles. Books on Amazon. A collection of the best contributions and reports from the Telegraph focussing on the key events, decisions and moments in Churchill's life.
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Book Review: 'Ten Billion' by Stephen Emmott | 'Countdown' by Alan Weisman
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10 Billion, by Stephen Emmott, review
Look Inside. Sep 10, 74 Minutes Buy. Species extinction. Global warming. Growing threats to food and water. The driving issues of our times are the result of one huge problem: Us. As the population continues to grow, our problems will increase.
Stephen Emmott born 3 June is a British scientist, entrepreneur and chief scientist of Scientific. Emmott studied at the University of York , where he completed a B. Having been deeply influenced and inspired by the work of David Marr and David Rumelhart , Emmott's doctoral research focused on modelling and understanding the computations the brain performs to produce vision. He chose the visual processing of text because it is the canonical example of a physical structure designed around how the brain works, rather than the other way round. After obtaining his PhD.